Although less than a third of executives began their careers at the firms where they currently work, top executives are holding onto their seats in the C-Suite. Yes, high-ranking executives are more diverse than they were in the past, but job security is of paramount concern—impacted especially by the 2008 recession.
Again, I’ve turned to a recent study by the same team I cited in a previous blog post: management professor Peter Capelli from Wharton, Monika Hamori from IE Business School and her colleague Rocio Bonet. They tracked “the career paths and qualifications of the top 10 leaders in each of the Fortune 100 companies.” You can read some interesting findings and data in a Knowledge@Wharton newsletter from this February.
How did this recession affect executive jobs, career advancement and flexibility?
The three business professors conclude that the recession affected financial services more than other industries, citing restructuring as the prime mover behind the practice of major finance companies hiring from the outside. “By contrast,” they write, “companies whose businesses are more stable—including Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble and UPS—have tended to promote leaders from within.” That would seem to suggest that if you’re a senior executive looking to make a career move internally, you are better positioned in the manufacturing, consumer products and transportation sectors.
One of the most interesting statistics—and certainly not startling—is that the fastest career path to the top ranks of management occurred at Google, “where it took only 14 years to rise from an entry level position to the executive suite, while it took 32 years at Hewlett-Packard and ConocoPhillips.” Also, the average age of “HP’s 2011 executive team was over 58, while at Google, they were 46.”
Now, we have to make some sense of these findings as they relate to job search and career choices.
Capelli suggests that younger executives who wish to pursue career opportunities in a Fortune 100 organization may find more promise in declining industries, where there is a stronger likelihood of high turnover in managements’ ranks. My view is that this highlights a skill and experience that may be more common among older executives: turnaround management.
The turnaround management industry should be a career option for the most senior executives as they exit their corporate careers. The special expertise that a turnaround manager provides to ailing slow-growth /no-growth companies is advantageous to CEO’s and their teams who are stuck and seek corporate renewal rather than bankruptcy and/or dissolution. Although not restricted to seasoned executives, turnaround management engagements are a win-win for company and senior executive alike, across diverse functions. This is also an industry where more than attorneys and accountants can look for consulting or interim management assignments.
But, it would be an interesting career path for executives starting out if they absorbed Capelli’s advice. Imagine a “hero CEO” role in a major-market company early enough in a career.
Now that is an attractive accomplishment story to tell on a résumé, as well as a coherent point to pitch to a company in the middle market outside of the Fortune 100.
Regard this business headline from January: “Middle Market Expects to Create One Million Jobs in 2014.”