Survey: The most popular early jobs and universities of CEOs

New LinkedIn data shows that the role of a consultant is the most popular first job among CEOs. In terms of the roles they filled before right getting the position for the first time, the research found that 72% were directors or higher up on the corporate ladder.

Photo: Jason Wong

Take a guess. Drumroll, please …

New LinkedIn data shows that the role of a consultant is the most popular first job among CEOs. In terms of the roles they filled before right getting the position for the first time, the research found that 72% were directors or higher up on the corporate ladder.

LinkedIn analyzed the profiles of more than 12,000 CEOs of organizations with a minimum of 50 workers, located in 20 different nations.

The 10 most popular early jobs among CEOs

  1. Consultant
  2. Software Engineer
  3. Analyst
  4. Sales Manager
  5. Project Manager
  6. Account Manager
  7. Manager
  8. Founder
  9. Associate
  10. Software Developer

“Note that these positions and functions reflect the CEOs’ earliest job on their LinkedIn profile — not necessarily their first job ever (our data probably misses out on lots of lemonade stands.),” LinkedIn noted.

Among CEOs of organizations with a minimum of 1,000 workers, 80% indicated that they came from another company, and 20% were “promoted internally.”

The most popular “first job functions” of CEOs were: Business Development, Sales, Engineering, Information Technology, Consulting, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Operations, and Marketing.

CEOs mostly went to these 10 universities

While the site reported that CEOs studied at these places during their undergraduate and post-graduate years, it’s clear that Stanford boasts many graduates.

  1. Stanford University
  2. Penn State University
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. University of California, Berkeley
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. Stanford University Graduate School of Business
  7. Harvard University
  8. INSEAD
  9. The Wharton School
  10. Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

The research found that 33% of CEOs surveyed have earned an MBA or Master’s degree.

These were the most common subjects they studied: Computer Science, Economics, Business, Banking & Finance, Electrical Engineering, Accounting, Marketing, Info. Science & Tech. and Business Management.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.