Is becoming a CEO right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do CEOs do?
Career Satisfaction
Are CEOs happy with their careers?
What are CEOs like?

Still unsure if becoming a CEO is the right career path? to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a CEO or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

How to become a CEO

Becoming a CEO requires a combination of education, experience, skills, and personal qualities. While the path to CEO can vary, here is a general guide on how to become a CEO:

  • Education: Obtain a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as business administration, business management, finance, economics, law, marketing, or a specialized area related to the industry you aspire to lead. Some CEOs also pursue advanced degrees such as an MBA or a master's degree in a related field to enhance their knowledge and credibility.
  • Gain Professional Experience: Build a strong foundation by gaining professional experience in your chosen field. Start by working in entry-level positions and gradually progress through different roles within the organization. Aim for positions that provide exposure to various functions, departments, and aspects of business operations.
  • Develop Leadership Skills: Seek opportunities to develop and demonstrate your leadership skills. Take on leadership roles in projects, teams, or committees within your organization. Look for mentorship and guidance from experienced leaders who can provide insights and advice on leadership development.
  • Build a Diverse Skill Set: CEOs require a broad range of skills beyond their core area of expertise. Develop skills in areas such as strategic thinking, communication, finance, operations, marketing, and people management. Seek opportunities to enhance your knowledge and skills through workshops, training programs, and certifications.
  • Network and Build Relationships: Cultivate a strong professional network by attending industry conferences, seminars, and networking events. Actively engage with professionals in your field, seek mentors, and build relationships with influential individuals who can provide guidance and open doors to opportunities.
  • Demonstrate Results and Achievements: Continuously strive for excellence and deliver outstanding results in your current and past roles. Take on challenging assignments, exceed expectations, and demonstrate your ability to drive positive outcomes for the organization. Showcase your achievements and track record of success.
  • Seek Executive Roles: As you progress in your career, aim for executive-level positions that provide greater responsibility and visibility. This may include roles such as vice president, chief operating officer (COO), or chief financial officer (CFO). These positions can serve as stepping stones to CEO roles.
  • Continuous Learning and Development: CEOs are lifelong learners. Stay updated on industry trends, emerging technologies, and best practices. Seek opportunities for professional development through executive education programs, leadership seminars, and industry-specific certifications.
  • Develop a Strategic Mindset: CEOs need to think strategically and have a holistic understanding of the business. Hone your strategic thinking skills by analyzing market trends, competitive landscapes, and emerging opportunities and challenges. Develop the ability to formulate and execute long-term strategic plans.
  • Display Leadership and Vision: Demonstrate your leadership abilities, vision, and the ability to inspire and motivate others. Show that you can effectively communicate your ideas, build consensus, and rally people around a shared vision. Develop strong emotional intelligence to understand and connect with individuals at all levels of the organization.
  • Seize Opportunities: Be proactive and seize opportunities that come your way. Look for organizations, industries, or situations that align with your career goals and values. Consider taking on challenging assignments, leading turnaround efforts, or joining high-growth companies where you can make a significant impact.
  • Pursue CEO Roles: Once you have gained significant experience, developed a strong skill set, and demonstrated leadership capabilities, actively seek CEO roles. Network with executive search firms, industry contacts, and board members who can connect you with CEO opportunities. Be prepared to undergo a rigorous selection process, including interviews, assessments, and presentations.

Workshops, Training Programs, and Certifications
Here are some examples of workshops, training programs, and certifications that CEOs can consider:

  • Harvard Business School Executive Education: Harvard Business School offers a range of executive education programs, such as the Advanced Management Program (AMP), the Owner/President Management (OPM) Program, and the Program for Leadership Development (PLD). These programs provide comprehensive leadership development and management training for senior executives.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education: Stanford GSB offers programs like the Stanford Executive Program (SEP) and the Executive Leadership Development Program (ELDP). These programs focus on leadership development, strategy, innovation, and managing change.
  • Women's Executive Leadership Development Programs: Various organizations and institutions offer leadership development programs specifically designed for women CEOs and executives. Examples include the Women's Director Development Program by Women Corporate Directors (WCD) and the Executive Leadership Development for Women by Cornell University.
  • Institute of Directors (IoD) Certifications: The IoD, a professional organization for directors, offers certifications such as the Chartered Director (CDir) qualification. This certification focuses on governance, board leadership, and ethical decision-making.
  • Global CEO Program: The Global CEO Program, offered by leading business schools such as Wharton School, INSEAD, and China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), is a comprehensive executive education program specifically designed for CEOs and top executives. It provides insights into global business trends, strategic thinking, and leadership development.
  • Financial Executive Development Programs: Organizations like the Financial Executives International (FEI) and the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) offer workshops and training programs tailored to CEOs and executives focusing on financial management, risk analysis, and corporate finance.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification: While not specifically designed for CEOs, obtaining the PMP certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) can provide CEOs with valuable project management skills and methodologies, which can be useful for leading strategic initiatives and managing complex projects.