Do You Have What It Takes to be a CEO? - Senior Executive
Quiz

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a CEO?

by Dan Burrows on March 9, 2022

So you aspire to lead a company as CEO. Wondering whether you’ve got what it takes to lead — the right mix of skills, education and experience? Take our 10-question quiz to see how you stack up.

Question 1 of 10

True or false: It's necessary to speak a second language — or several of them — to be a CEO.

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It's estimated that only about 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs speak at least one foreign language. As the Harvard Business Review has noted, the global business world speaks English.
Question 2 of 10

True or false: Loyalty pays. Companies overwhelmingly tend to promote from within when filling open CEO roles.

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At Russell 3000 companies, two-thirds of 2020 CEO hires were insiders who had been with the company for at least a year — and for an average of 10.5 years. Among S&P 500 companies, insiders have an even greater advantage, landing 74.5% of open CEO gigs in 2020.
Question 3 of 10

True or false: You have to climb the ladder, rung by rung. In other words, to become CEO, you first must lead your company in some other executive capacity.

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Aim high! In 2020, 23% of CEO hires among Russell 3000 companies came from outside the executive ranks — the fourth straight year that rate has climbed.
Question 4 of 10

True or false: Women face an uphill climb to the top. Among Fortune 500 companies, male CEOs still outnumber their female counterparts by nearly 10-to-1.

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In 2021, 8.2% of Fortune 500 companies — an all-time high of 41 firms — had a woman in the role of CEO, up from 6.6% in 2019. Women of color make up only 1% of chief executives at Fortune 1000 firms.
Question 5 of 10

True or false: You need an Ivy League education to be a CEO.

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Although undergraduates of Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other prestigious Ivy League institutions are well-represented in the upper echelons of Corporate America, you don't actually find that many of them leading the nation's largest companies. Indeed, a mere 11% of CEOs at Fortune 100 firms graduated from Ivy League schools. In fact, almost half of this elite list of 100 corporate leaders went to state schools. Undergraduate institutions matriculating the most Fortune 100 CEOs include Texas A&M University and the University of Michigan. Among the Fortune 500, Boston College and Michigan State, too, contributed more than their fair share of CEOs.
Question 6 of 10

True or false: You need an MBA to become a CEO.

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Even at the Fortune 500 level, it's estimated that roughly only one-third of CEOs have an MBA. Nationwide, that figure is even lower, with only about 30% of America's 202,000 chief executives holding an MBA. Incidentally, research shows that CEOs with MBAs perform no better than chief executives who lack a graduate degree in business. A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that the best-performing CEOs were more likely to have a degree in engineering than a Masters of Business Administration.
Question 7 of 10

True or false: But surely you must need a four-year college degree!

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A bachelor's degree is generally a prerequisite for getting on the career track to CEO, but not every chief executive has one. Perhaps most famously, Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates and Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg are both (Harvard) college dropouts.
Question 8 of 10

True or false: Being an athlete helps your chances of becoming a CEO.

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Go team! A survey by Fortune magazine revealed that 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs played college sports. Likewise, Ernst & Young found that 94% of women in C-suite positions played sports at some point during their academic careers.
Question 9 of 10

True or false: CEOs, on the whole, are getting younger and younger these days.

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The average age of a CEO in the U.S. is 54.1 years, and it's a figure that's been trending upward for more than a decade. In 2005, the average CEO was 45.9 years old.
Question 10 of 10

True or false: First-born children are more likely to become CEO.

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Studies show that first-born children have higher IQs than their younger siblings — and are 30% more likely to be CEOs or politicians, according to research from Sweden's Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy. It's thought that first-born kids have a leg up over their brothers and sisters in part because they get more undivided attention from their parents.

 

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