Majority of new CEOs are 'insiders': study

May 12 2014, 16:00 IST
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was executive vice president of the company's Cloud and Enterprise group before being promoted to head the tech major. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was executive vice president of the company's Cloud and Enterprise group before being promoted to head the tech major.
SummaryAbout 76 per cent of incoming CEOs were 'insiders' who were promoted from within the company.

A vast majority, or 70 per cent, of CEO turnovers at the world's largest 2,500 public companies in 2013 were planned events, as opposed to forced turnovers or the result of mergers, according to a new study.

About 76 per cent of incoming CEOs were 'insiders' who were promoted from within the company, said the newly released 2013 Chief Executive Study from Strategy & (formerly Booz & Company).

"The high proportion of planned turnovers is a strong signal that companies are continuing to take an active, considered approach to putting in place new leadership," said Gary L Neilson, senior partner at Strategy & and co-author of the 14th annual global Chief Executive Study.

The study examines trends and patterns among incoming and outgoing CEOs of the world's 2,500 largest public companies.

It also looks at women CEOs over the past 10 years as well as overall succession trends with a focus incoming class of CEOs of 2013.

CEO turnover at the world's largest companies in 2013 decreased slightly to 14.4 per cent from 15.0 per cent in 2012 – well within the range of turnover generally expected during non-recession periods.

"While the CEO succession rates in the Middle East continue to be higher than the global average, we have seen a meaningful decline this year in this region as well and are now approaching the global levels," said Per-Ola Karlsson, senior partner at Strategy&, co-author of the report.

The findings suggest that the 'global CEO' as commonly thought of is a rarity- the trend seems to be 'local' and 'native'.

In addition to the fact that 76 per cent of new CEOs in 2013 were insiders (compared to 71 per cent in 2012) – 80 per cent were nationals of the same country as the company's headquarters; 65 per cent did not have experience working abroad.

"Companies continue to select CEOs who are familiar faces, particularly when it comes to nationality and international experience, suggesting that the 'global CEO' is more mythical than real," said Karlsson.

The median age of incoming CEOs was 53.

CEO tenure has remained relatively steady over the past five years - but rose slightly in 2013 to the 14-year median of five years.

The study includes two other findings that illuminate what companies are looking for in a CEO.

First, the percentage of CEOs appointed with joint CEO/Chairman titles decreased for the third straight year

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