MBB -> ??? -> CEO Fortune 500

astros4ws's picture
Rank: Monkey | 30

What fills the ??? in the career path?

It seems as though upon leaving MBB most people either go into finance of some sort (PE, Hedge Funds, Asset Mgmt etc) or corporate strategy (i.e. internal 'consultants') or start-ups.

However, of these, none seem to be great experience for eventually landing a senior management role in a F500 company. It seems that in order to do that you need to go from MBB to some type of operational role at an F500 but I haven't seen that happen very often/ever.

So, what is the best path to try and follow to one day become a CEO?

Comments (24)

Jun 6, 2013

MBB-> Get Lucky as Hell -> CEO of Fortune 500

F500 CEO is not a realistic end goal. You can say you want to put yourself in Senior Leadership with a chance at making CEO, but a goal of F500 CEO is just ridiculous.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Jun 6, 2013

Consulting --> internal corp strategy/corp dev group --> get promoted to head up a functional area of the company as an executive --> get promoted executive/management committee level --> President/COO/CEO/CFO/CTO*

That's how I would see that unfolding.

*Assumes you live in a perfect world

Jun 7, 2013
idragmazda:

Consulting --> internal corp strategy/corp dev group --> get promoted to head up a functional area of the company as an executive --> get promoted executive/management committee level --> President/COO/CEO/CFO/CTO*

This is closest. You would usually enter as corp dev and lateral to line management then move up from there. Consultants rarely get hired directly as line managers outside of internal strategy / development.

From there it's the same corporate ladder as if you had gotten there without consulting.

Jun 6, 2013
accountingbyday:

MBB-> Get Lucky as Hell -> CEO of Fortune 500

F500 CEO is not a realistic end goal. You can say you want to put yourself in Senior Leadership with a chance at making CEO, but a goal of F500 CEO is just ridiculous.

What kind of attitude is that? There are 500 F500 CEOs and someone's got to have each of those jobs. Yeah it's an ambitious target and you'll need a slice of luck but you might as well aim big otherwise what's the point.

Anyone with more helpful comments?

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Jun 6, 2013

Unfortunately there is a lot of truth to what accountingbyday said. There is no best path, but I suppose this may represent a "best shot at CEO" path:

HYP->MBB or Top BB/Elite Boutique->MBA from M7->Snr Manager Corp Dev->Director Corp Dev->VP->SVP-> CEO

Getting to the VP position requires very little luck. Your talent alone can get you that far. The criteria for hitting the next rung changes dramatically.

Getting from VP to CEO does take a fair amount of luck. You do need to be in the right place at the right time whether you want to believe it or not. If you're an SVP and the CEO role magically opens up you're only going to have one shot at. After that you have to look for external promotions to other F500s looking to fill the CEO role.

I worked for a F50 and it's a fucking logjam of talent once you get beyond the VP level.

Jun 6, 2013

It worked for Jeff Skilling.

Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

Jun 6, 2013

As someone who has spend their entire career in the corporate (F500 world) you rarely see corpstrat or corpdev folks make it to CEO from corpstrat or corpdev directly as they have 0 experience in managing an organization or company...the typical path for a banker or a consultant who makes it to CEO tends to be something like this:

MBB / BB bank (2-3 years) --> internal corpstrat or corpdev (for 2-3 years) --> operational, sales, or product management role (move up the ranks for 8-10+ years) --> promoted to lead operating, sales or product group / division (as in you are now on the executive team and do that for 3+ years) --> CEO

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Jun 6, 2013

I once looked into all this and it seems every company has it's own way of selecting the top 25-30 people in the organization.

FMCG firms like P&G - brand management/marketing
General Electric - FMP program
Defense firms - senior rank veterans from the army
aerospace - engineers (even CFOs are engineers sometimes)
Oil and gas - engineers and geologists

This is only true for F50 and all, companies which have been around for a LONG time and have internal systems which promote talent rather than hire outsiders (such as consultants). Others just poach talent from these ones.

I haven't seen many firms have a bias for consulting folk. The best option would be to jump into marketing/brand management if possible and fight your way to the top. Going from consulting directly into a high level operational role is unrealistic.

@kingtut - You sure about that? VP is a VERY senior position, often right below a C level exec, depending upon a firm's hierarchy and titles.

Jun 6, 2013

Doesn't McKinsey and GE have the highest placement into F500 CEO positions, meaning more come from these two places than any other. I recall an article that mentioned this. Former Ebay CEO was from Bain and Amex CEO was from Bain.

of the top of my head, McKinsey:

Gerstner - IBM
Skilling - Enron
Kevin Sharer - Amgen (formerly GE as well)
McNerney - 3m, Boeing (formerly GE as well)

Jun 6, 2013

I think it depends on industry. In consumer, brand managers / sales people always grow faster than corp dev/strategy

Jun 6, 2013

Thanks for all the comments, very helpful and confirms what I was thinking. Seems that it is getting into an operational role from consulting (possibly via a corporate strategy/bus dev role) that is the key and then it is a combination of talent and a lot of luck to work your way up to the top.

Nov 7, 2013

.

Jun 6, 2013

Don't forget Rajat Gupta

Jun 7, 2013

The McK Copenhagen office talks about this in their FAQ (although Europe is a little different):

Q: What does it mean that you have an "up-or-out" policy, and how do people normally quit?
A: The up-or-out policy basically means that you constantly have to develop to be successful in McKinsey. The rate of development will typically go up and down over time for the individual consultant, as some development needs will be more difficult than others to meet, the pace is very different from person to person, and everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. But as long as you demonstrate that you have the potential to grow further, you can stay in McKinsey. Most people who leave McKinsey leave because they are offered a position where they find opportunities more appealing.

Q: How long do people stay?
A: On average consultants stay two to three years with McKinsey in Copenhagen.

Q: What is the typical career after McKinsey?
A: People leaving McKinsey after two to three years typically get product/market manager positions in larger companies, or management group positions in small or medium-sized companies (business development). People leaving McKinsey after five to ten years often go directly to top management positions.

http://www.mckinsey.com/locations/Copenhagen/Apply...FAQ.aspx#q30

Jun 7, 2013

Obviously it's difficult. When I think about people at my MBB firm who have become CEOs, a lot of them stayed in consulting until partner level, as it's easier to rise (less political/luck based, more meritocratic). Then, they impressed a client and moved over to either take a CEO role at the client or a role one level down and got promoted to CEO.

Jul 2, 2013

Did you by chance also dream of being a professional baseball player or president when you were a kid?

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Jul 2, 2013
LR1400:

Doesn't McKinsey and GE have the highest placement into F500 CEO positions, meaning more come from these two places than any other.

The current CEO of GE is a BCG alum.

(Also, oddly enough, JRI likes sweater vests)

Jul 3, 2013

BCG alum? You mean he interned there his MBA summer then chose GE full time?

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Jul 3, 2013
kote:

BCG alum? You mean he interned there his MBA summer then chose GE full time?

I'm pretty sure he means that he worked at BCG for a while and then (eventually) joined GE.

Jul 3, 2013

He joined GE straight from HBS in 1982. I can't find what he did in the 2 years he worked prior to HBS, so I may be remembering incorrectly if he was an intern or analyst. Anyone have a link on this?

Jul 3, 2013

Memory wasn't wrong... Immelt was only at BCG for an MBA internship.

http://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2012/0...

"He worked in Procter & Gamble's brand management operation before heading to Harvard Business School to earn his MBA."

Jul 3, 2013

Just read where Whitney Tilson worked at BCG for 2 years as well.

I don't get the sweater vest comment other than the fact that a lot of that generation sport the dbag sweater vest look.

Jul 3, 2013
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