Friday 19 July 2019

American chief executives most likely to have gained an MBA

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The top CEOs in America are far more likely to hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) than their counterparts in other parts of the world, according to new research.

The research, carried out by Study.EU, looked at the CEOs of the largest public companies on each continent as per the Forbes Global 2000 company ranking, and found that in North America 37pc of the top CEOs held an MBA degree, while just under one in two of the top CEOs in Central and South America held MBA degrees, suggesting they are more relevant in the Americas region.

The share of top CEOs with MBA degrees was significantly lower in Europe, with just over one in five of the top CEOs in Europe holding an MBA degree.

However, the share of CEOs in Europe with a different type of Masters degree is higher, at 76pc.

Technical, scientific or legal degrees were found to be the norm among European company leaders.

In comparison, 59pc of top CEOs in America had a Masters or Doctorate, while just 38pc of the top CEOs in Australia held a Masters or Doctorate degree.

Globally, 97pc of the top CEOs were found to hold at least an undergraduate degree. This is despite some very high-profile CEOs having failed to complete their undergraduate degree including the late Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, and Microsoft's Bill Gates.

Closer to home, Ireland's Collison bothers both dropped out of University - Harvard and MIT respectively - to focus on building up their online payments company Stripe.

Studying abroad is becoming more common among the top CEOs, with the data showing that approximately one in three of the world's top CEOs studied abroad for at least one semester.

This number is increasing as CEOs get younger, with 41pc of the youngest third of the sample of CEOs having studied abroad.

This trend is expected to continue in the future, as student mobility in the general population has increased dramatically over the past decades, according to the OECD.

In terms of CEOs having studied abroad, North American companies may have to catch up, with only 16pc of their company CEOs having studied at university abroad - the lowest number in any region in the sample.

"Studying abroad is one of the best ways to get to know foreign cultures and different perspectives," said Study.EU CEO Gerrit Bruno Blöss.

"While international study and work experience can't replace actual diversity, it enables top management teams to look at strategic challenges from different points of view."

"Of course, this is true at all hierarchy levels of a company, not just in the boardroom," Blöss added.

Despite increased emphasis being placed on diversity in the boardroom, the chief executive post remains generally male-dominated.

Only 3pc of the CEOs surveyed were female, all of whom are in the US or India.

Overall, 18pc of CEOs are foreign nationals, the highest share being found in Australia, where just under one in two CEOs were foreign - mainly from New Zealand and the UK.

In addition, Australia was also home to the youngest CEOs, although their average age of 54 was not far below the global average of 57.

In total, the curriculum vitae of 231 CEOs of the largest public companies on each continent were analysed by Study.EU during the research.

Irish Independent

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