Diversifying Your Experience Is the Key to Becoming a CEO

October 7, 2016

1:30 pm

Everyone’s pictured themselves behind a CEO’s desk at one point or another. Something about the phrase “chief executive officer” makes the hair on the back of their neck stand on end. Whether it’s the perks, the power, or the first class accommodations, being the boss is something a lot of people strive for. And according to a new study, the best way to accomplish that goal is to make sure you aren’t stuck in one sector for too long.

According to data from LinkedIn, the key to becoming a high level executive is to diversify your experience. By taking on as many job functions as possible, you will be exposing yourself to a wide range of business practices that can inform on your future decisions.

“My recommendation for those of you who want to become executives is to work across as many job functions as possible,” wrote Guy Berger, author of the study.

If, for example, you were a marketer that delved into finance for a brief period of time, you would not only have a bevy of new skills to apply to your current position, you’d also cultivate relationships and connections with peers and authority figures that can help forward your career. The more friends you know, the better chances you have of making it to the top of the mountain.

However, while diversification of fields can help propel someone to CEO-status, switching industries can have a negative effect on your chances. Whether it’s because of the loss connections or the notion that you are “starting over,” if you want to be a CEO, you need to stick to your industry.

“Switching industries — perhaps because of the learning curve or relationships lost — has a slight negative impact to moving up the corporate ladder,” wrote Berger in the study.

There is one other factor needed to become a CEO, but you’re not going to like it: luck. Just like professional athletes, popular musicians, and famous comedians, future-CEOs need to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment to do the job. Unfortunately, you can’t plan for luck. What you can plan for is having the right equipment for the job when the right place and right time come along. Because otherwise, you’re going to blow your shot at the big desk.

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Senior Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Senior Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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