Analyst to CEO-type Role?

I'm currently a first year IB analyst in a coverage group I really like. I also do enjoy the work, but don't see myself staying in banking until MD nor moving to PE, and the path that most interests me for a number of reasons is a CEO or CEO type role (i.e. head of business unit). I know this topic has been covered before, but I see a few clear paths to get there, and am looking for some feedback / advice on them:

  1. Stay in banking until VP level (5-7 years) and jump to a senior-ish corp dev position. From what I've read on here the process of then getting into a leadership role likely goes through the CFO type path (which I do not want to do), through leading an acquisition and its integration, or asking to be transferred to a more corporate / management type role. The quick promotion and career progression in banking is definitely a factor here too, so staying for a few extra years makes sense in my opinion. To me, this seems to be the most logical and what I would think my current plan is 

  2. Do 2 years in banking then move to a more junior corp dev role. Similar rationale to 1, but have also gleaned that this is less attractive as joining a corporate younger can mean you get stuck and not promoted as quickly as you might otherwise. This option is also less attractive for the pay cut and also potentially less learning experience in a corp dev role, though it is certainly another option I'm considering

  3. Get an MBA and go to work post-MBA for a strategic in a product management type role. Have also thought about working to get into consulting post-MBA if I decide to do an MBA, then jumping into a corporate role, but would rather avoid another 2 years of resume-padding and just jump straight into the types of roles I want (but at a more junior level). I'm not opposed to getting an MBA, but I want to do it if it makes sense for me, not because everyone else is doing it. Cost is obviously a factor here as well.

I understand a career is also not straightforward whatsoever and there are a million ways to get to where I want to be, but would love some feedback on how I'm thinking about these paths from where I am as an analyst 1. 


Bankers don’t become CEOs. Look at all the bank CEOs


Whatever you say my man. At least I got a life making the same money as you. Not to mention, actually creating value for the client


CEO is not an easy route. PE -> portco CFO is common enough, but it's not exactly glamorous running a small industrials manufacturer in Indiana. You mention you don't want CFO, but unless you want to be head of biz dev or marketing, you need to be comfortable with CFO work to be a CEO...

If you want to be a unit leader at a public F500 type company, corp dev is usually a training ground for leadership. Do some banking, maybe a bit of PE and then a few years at your company of choice, learn the company and strategy, and then move to a business unit. Agree not to jump right away.


Different view is to stay until somewhere in you associate or vp days maximum. You don’t gain any operational skills except you can run a process and have some executive presence. Corp dev to ceo or head of BU is uncommon as is CFO to CEO. You should optimise for industry / sector knowledge and operational skills. You won’t get much of either in banking, PE or consulting (even if in a coverage role) 

Most Helpful

It's fine to have a goal of being a CEO one day. How you would typically get there are two ways:

1. CFO, which to be honest more often happens by being an accountant, CPA than banking, but it does happen. Exit to Corp dev (less likely) or finance function within a larger company (more likely) and slowly climb the ladder.

2. Demonstrate your ability to own and grow P&L. You either need to start your own company (fastest way to become CEO but to be honest one of the hardest to do properly) or get in the ground through a strategy (or chief of staff) or operational role via consulting and then impress someone enough that they give you a piece of the business to start managing. Demonstrate you can grow that busines and they will give you more and more to manage, until you are responsible for a big chunk of their business. Then they make you COO->CEO or direct to CEO if it's such a no-brainer. Sometimes it's almost easier to grow business and P&L by being in sales, some of the really strong banker->CEO types were the best salesmen by far, and really strong dealmakers.

Neither path is easy or as straightforward. I will tell you right now that you will most likely never get there. Not because of any fault of your own or a personal attack on you, but it's like saying I want to be a billionaire one day. It doesn't work that way. So many things will alter the course of your career that you don't have control over such as luck, timing, change of priorities, etc.

Have it as a goal in mind, and use it as your north star vs. using it as a detailed set of directions on google maps and hopefully you'll have a long and successful career. But don't worry if in 20 years time you realize you don't want to be a CEO anymore and just be a VP at some large company somewhere bringing in 6 figures with a solid upper middle class life.


Consequuntur nulla quos eligendi ipsa vero sed impedit. Veniam temporibus sed nulla enim enim saepe.

Vitae tempore a et temporibus optio. Consequatur est rem odit ut omnis aut. Et tempora repudiandae aut occaecati. Sint dolorem porro consequatur. Sed ab cumque aliquam ad.

Voluptatem ratione et qui illum optio. Aut voluptatem distinctio et consequatur incidunt dolores. Cumque dolores quis sapiente.

Career Advancement Opportunities

April 2024 Investment Banking

  • Jefferies & Company 02 99.4%
  • Goldman Sachs 19 98.8%
  • Harris Williams & Co. New 98.3%
  • Lazard Freres 02 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 03 97.1%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

April 2024 Investment Banking

  • Harris Williams & Co. 18 99.4%
  • JPMorgan Chase 10 98.8%
  • Lazard Freres 05 98.3%
  • Morgan Stanley 07 97.7%
  • William Blair 03 97.1%

Professional Growth Opportunities

April 2024 Investment Banking

  • Lazard Freres 01 99.4%
  • Jefferies & Company 02 98.8%
  • Goldman Sachs 17 98.3%
  • Moelis & Company 07 97.7%
  • JPMorgan Chase 05 97.1%

Total Avg Compensation

April 2024 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (5) $648
  • Vice President (19) $385
  • Associates (87) $260
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (14) $181
  • Intern/Summer Associate (33) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (66) $168
  • 1st Year Analyst (205) $159
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (146) $101
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”


From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”