Last week I concluded the appraisals for 2019 as well as inducting two analysts into our team at Artha Venture Fund. I attempt to have a conversation with each of the new inductees, and one of the questions I ask them is where they see themselves in the next five years. Most of them have plans on doing an MBA or becoming a manager, but very few have plans to become entrepreneurs.
Therefore when I do their appraisal, I ask them the same question once again, and it isn’t surprising that most of them have had a shift in their five-year goals. Invariably they would like to be in some entrepreneurial position whether that was in a start, proprietorship, NGO or as a fund manager. I hold the entrepreneurial energy that flows within the walls of our office responsible for this shift, and I am confident that I am the one responsible for dropping cans of fuel to flame any evidence of an entrepreneurial spark.
While I have recalibrated the goals for many team members, I have found that like the entrepreneurs that I have met, my team holds misconceptions about the path one should take to becoming a CEO/Founder. I could harp on my own experiences as a case study for them to follow, but it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the team of Nicole Wong, Kim Powell, and Elena Botelho were conducting a study that I could share!
In a ten year study, the trio assembled data on 17,000 C-Suite executive assessments, studying over 2,600 of them in-depth. They wanted to analyze who gets to the top and how and they went onto publish a book based on their findings called, The CEO Next Door.
Their study (aptly called the CEO Genome project) took a close look at the career paths of individuals that they have (once again) aptly called, CEO-sprinters. Their study discovered that on average, it took 24 years from the date of joining their first job to become a CEO. Therefore CEO-sprinters are those individuals that got the CEO title before 24 years.
Some of the data sharing from the study are thought-provoking:
- 24% of the CEOs had an elite-MBA
- 7% graduated from an Ivy League school
- 8% did not complete college
- 45% had had a significant career blow-up
The study concluded that the CEO-sprinters had three types of career catapults that got them to the CEO chair early viz:
- Go Small to Go Big
- Make a Big Leap
- Inherit a Big Mess
Understanding these career catapults and experiencing them is crucial. Their importance is inferred by the fact that:
- 97% of the CEO-sprinters had had at least 1 of those experiences
- ~50% had had at least 2
I will review the book in a future post, but until then you can learn about the career catapults as well as other findings from the CEO-genome project at
- The Fastest Path to the CEO Job, according to a 10-year study
- The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviours That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders
I concur with the findings of the CEO Genome project, and it has once again confirmed what my mentor & ex-boss used to ingrain into each leader that was led by him
The people that solve the most problems make the most money!