FTSE 100 companies want ‘homegrown technology talent for top role’

Specialist recruitment firm, Robert Half UK, has revealed the number of CEOs with a financial background is falling as firms put more sway into technology skills.

The annual Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker has shown that in the last four years the number of CEOs with a technology background has trebled as businesses prepare to compete in an increasingly digital economy.

In 2014, only three CEOs had a background in technology while today this number has increased to 11. The majority of CEOs continue have a background in finance, although this figure has fallen to 43% from 55% last year and the lowest level in three years. Of those CEOs with a financial background, nearly half (19% of the total) are Chartered Accountants.

>See also: Rolling into the digital age: inside Rolls-Royce’s tech transformation

The research revealed that there is a generational shift occurring in the FTSE 100. There are now just eight CEOs under the age of 50 on the FTSE 100, a quarter less than in 2010 when there were 33 CEOs under the age of 50.

The typical age of a CEO is 55 years old and the average tenure is five years and two months. Organisations are also looking to nurture homegrown talent as the number of CEOs being promoted from within has doubled in the last three years.

In total, 41% of FTSE 100 CEOs have been promoted to the top position from within the company, while 11% have been in the company for their whole career. Conversely, the number of CEOs who have held the top position at multiple companies has dropped to its lowest level in three years, standing at 16%.

>See also: Is there a lack of digital leadership in the world’s biggest firms?

“With digital transformation, automation and GDPR offering challenges and opportunities, growth remains the number one priority for all businesses – small and large,” commented Phil Sheridan, senior managing director, Robert Half UK.

“Strong leadership that can deliver profitability and create a sustainable advantage against competitors and new market entrants is key. As a result, all businesses are thinking carefully about who is positioned at the helm of the company and if he or she has the skills needed to navigate a complex business environment. Increasingly, CEOs who can combine current industry knowledge with the commercial acumen needed to navigate the fast pace of change is key.”

The study found that it is no longer necessary to have attended Oxford or Cambridge to achieve a CEO position as well. Since 2010, the number of CEOs with an Oxbridge education has declined from 23% to 17%.

>See also: The digital ecosystem: IT infrastructure now on CEO’s agenda

MBAs and other post graduate qualifications are also not a pre-requisite for achieving a top leadership position, with just under a quarter (23%) have an MBA and only four hold a PhD.

However, when it comes to leadership roles at publicly traded companies, it’s no exaggeration to say it’s still very much a male dominated world. Only seven of the CEOs currently leading FTSE 100 companies are women, increasing by from four in 2014.

Additional findings revealed that the average FTSE 100 CEO is from the UK (65%), male (93%) and is likely to have held a senior role in the same industry (64%).

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...