Want to be a chief executive of a FTSE 350 company? Here’s the route to follow

Want to be a chief executive? Here’s the route to follow

Hit the sweetspot to becoming a company boss by being male, 46 years old, with a university – ideally Oxbridge – education.

By Rebecca Burn-Callander

6:01AM GMT 31 Oct 2013

The average chief executive of a FTSE 350 company is a 46-year-old male, who attended Oxford or Cambridge University, according to research by business intelligence company QlikTech. The company crunched background data on all of the current FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 CEOs, as of August 2013, to find out where they were born, where they went to university, and details around the subjects they studied and key points from their later career.


If you plan to be a FTSE CEO, you only stand a fighting chance if you’re born in the UK. Some 58pc of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 CEOs hail from Britain. In second place is America: 7pc of the 350 CEOs were born in the US.

The findings also show that despite the government’s efforts to get more women into blue-chip boardrooms, males still dominate as chief executives. Only 4pc of those heading up FTSE 350 companies are female.

A university education is an essential for any individual hoping to progress to the CEO level in these firms. Only 10pc didn’t attend university at all and 15pc attended either Oxford or Cambridge.

Drilling down further into the university education of FTSE bosses, the research found that after economics and business, law was the most popular subject studied, with engineering close behind. Interestingly, 26pc of chief executives studied arts subjects – and only 17pc specifically graduated in business. Science is also a hugely popular subject for future CEOs: 98 of the 350 graduated with science disciplines.

Although the Oxbridge institutions came out as the most popular universities, the University of Manchester also educated 14 FTSE chiefs. Interestingly, 8pc of the FTSE 100 also went to Harvard.

Having an MBA has proved very helpful on the road to becoming a FTSE boss as nearly a fifth (18pc) of the FTSE 350 chief executives have this qualification.

And while the role of FTSE boss may not be one for life, the average tenure is still fairly lengthy at six years.

“With this research, we want to make available data easy to analyse for ambitious employees to find out what the ‘key ingredients’ are to become a FTSE 100 or 250 chief executive,” said Sean Farrington, QlikTech’s UK managing director.

“The main takeaway has actually been how little the average CEO has changed over the past 50 years. Although the business landscape has moved on significantly from the ‘Mad Men’ boardrooms of the Sixties, the FTSE 100 and 250 CEO lists are still surprisingly dominated by males of a certain age and from an Oxbridge background.”

If you want to investigate how to follow in FTSE bosses’ footsteps, take the tour of QlikTech’s app.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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