Leading Talent

Research shows background of company leaders.

Leading Talent

Australia & New Zealand

Research from Robert Half, which has found ASX 200 CEOs are typically male, based in Sydney and likely to have a postgraduate degree, a background in finance as well as international work experience. 

The company’s research into the background of the current ASX 200 CEOs also found half (50 per cent) have held prior roles in finance, financial services or accounting, which illustrates a common understanding of the value that financial experience  brings to senior leadership positions. Having a background in finance enables professionals – across all seniority levels – to develop an understanding of the financial environment that in turn can provide unique business insights.

David Jones, senior managing director of Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “It is not surprising to see that half of Australia’s ASX 200 CEOs have financial backgrounds. Companies are constantly under pressure to improve profit margins and deliver increased shareholder value. Business leaders with strong financial capabilities are highly valued as they can easily interpret the financial ramifications of business decisions, adding a practical, financial perspective to a strategic one.”

The overall majority (96 per cent) of ASX 200 companies are based in Australia, with New South Wales being the dominant business domain as almost half (47 per cent) are based in the Sydney metro area. More than one quarter (27 per cent) are based in the Melbourne metro area, followed by Brisbane (9 per cent), Perth (9 per cent) and Adelaide (3 per cent). Only 4 per cent of ASX 200-listed CEOs are based internationally in North America, New Zealand and the UK. 

Being able to put management skills and business acumen into practice in a different countries helps C-suite professionals gain a broad understanding of the cultural and geographical influences that impact business operations. The current ASX 200 CEOs recognise the value of having international work experience as almost six in 10 (59 per cent) ASX 200 CEOs have worked abroad, with 66 CEOs having worked throughout the Asia Pacific region, 59 in Europe, 54 in North America, 17 in Africa, 11 in Latin America and five in the Middle East. 


David Jones added: “In today’s globalised world, obtaining experience of different working cultures is an important way for business leaders to differentiate themselves. As technology continues to develop and make it easier for more businesses to work across international boundaries, being able to demonstrate success in different countries and global assignments is a credential in business leaders that is highly sought-after.”

The research has found that the top position in the workplace is still male-dominated, as the average ASX 200 CEO is male (94 per cent). Only 12 ASX 200 CEOs are women.

Loyalty has its rewards as 41 per cent of FTSE 100 CEOs have been promoted to the top position from within the company, while 11 per cent have been in the company for their whole career. One-third (33 per cent) were hired as CEO externally, and 5 per cent of the ASX 200 listed CEOs are the original founder of the company. 

The majority (61 per cent) of CEOs have been in the role for less than five years, more than one in four (26 per cent) have been in their position for six to 10 years and 13 per cent for more than 11 years, with the longest tenure currently held at 44 years.

“The DNA of the modern CEO continues to evolve as businesses operate in an increasingly competitive and changing environment,” says David Jones. “Naturally, it takes a very driven individual to become CEO – of any type of company. As organisations operate in uncertain times, they need to proactively identify the right talent for the top job. With the advancement of automation, digital transformations, regulatory frameworks, and globalisation, companies need leaders who can not only meet business goals, but also successfully leverage these changes, whilst possessing a strong people focus as well as financial and business acumen in order to keep their organisation afloat and prosperous during continuously fluctuating economic conditions.”



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