CEO: MBA and International Experience

QS Top MBA published a story about the role of the MBA degree in becoming CEO of a company. The full story is available through their website, but I'll quickly summarize the main points.

Since 1980, CEO's (on average) are now younger than their counterparts in 1980, have slightly more education (17.3 years compared to 17) and all carry with them some international experience. Among US CEO's, 38% held MBA degrees.

It's not surprising that as younger and younger people make their way up to CEO that their MBA is playing a key role in their move. As more and more baby-boomers move into retirement, CEO roles tend to go to the best qualified candidate rather than those who have been with the company the longest. Candidates with an MBA certainly demonstrate some ability to manage a company.

As for international experience, it's usually a very good way for an up and comer to get major responsibility very quickly. Operating outside of the company's headquarters allows international managers some leeway to try new things and face managerial decisions and experiences that would normally fall to those higher up if they were at home. When it comes to being selected for international assignments, being able to demonstrate some ability to work outside of your home country and/or experience with foreign cultures is a major advantage. Travelling to a foreign country to complete your MBA is certainly a great way to gain international experience. However, for those who live in Canada and want to get a Canadian degree, most schools offer exchanges, study tours, and courses geared towards working abroad.

One of the more interesting options is at the University of Alberta. Rather than complete a single term on exchange, students can complete an MBA in Edmonton and spend a year in France at EDHEC earning a European master's degree at the same time. So for those who are willing to travel, the Double Degree is a great way to earn two degrees on two continents and only be out of the workforce for two years.