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FTSE 100 CEOs Younger and More International than CEOs in the U.S., France and Germany

Heidrick & Struggles' Route to the Top explores path to the corner office

LONDON, April 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The CEOs of the UK's largest companies are both younger and much more likely to be international than their counterparts in the United States, France and Germany, according to the annual Route to the Top study from Heidrick & Struggles (NASDAQ: HSII), a premier provider of executive search, leadership consulting and culture shaping worldwide.


According to the study, FTSE 100 CEOs are on average five years younger than their counterparts in the U.S., with more than half (53 percent) under 55 years old compared to 17 percent in the U.S. The large age gap is also highlighted by the fact that four out of 10 (42 percent) of U.S. CEOs are age 60 or older, compared to just 13 percent in the UK. In Germany, 42 percent of CEOs are under age 55 and in France the figure is 38 percent.

For the complete 2017 Heidrick & Struggles Route to the Top report, visit

UK CEOs were also considerably younger when they were first appointed, with more than half (54 percent) of FTSE 100 bosses being promoted to the top job under the age of 50. In contrast, just a quarter (25 percent) of U.S. CEOs were under 50 when appointed and the proportion of U.S. CEOs over age 55 when first appointed (36 percent) was also more than double that of the UK (16 percent).

"The average tenure for a CEO in the UK is around six years, which indicates that a significant proportion of FTSE CEOs will not continue in their current roles much beyond the age of 60. This means there will be exciting career opportunities for young and up-and-coming CEOs, but also that their careers as CEOs are likely to end earlier," said Luis Urbano, Heidrick & Struggles' Managing Partner, Europe and Africa. "Likewise, while companies are able to tap into younger, dynamic talent, there is much to be gained from the grey hair of a seasoned CEO. It also poses the question as to what these older CEOs go on to do and whether or not they will be able to find roles that are intellectually stimulating and take full advantage of their particular skills and expertise."

The study also confirmed that FTSE 100 companies are far more likely than those in the U.S., France and Germany to be led by a non-UK national. Four out of 10 (40 percent) of FTSE 100 CEOs are from outside the UK compared to just 10 percent in France, 13 percent in the U.S. and 17 percent in Germany.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • CEOs with MBAs on the decline. Only 35 percent of U.S. CEOs in the study hold an MBA degree, down from 42 percent in 2015 and 49 percent five years previously. In France, 26 percent of CEOs have an MBA, down from 37 percent five years previously. In Germany, where advanced technical degrees are more common, CEOs with MBAs have declined to 11 percent from 16 percent five years previously. In the UK, 30 percent of CEOs have MBAs - unchanged from five years previously.
  • Women CEOs remain rare. While the U.S. had the most female CEOs – 8 percent of the companies studied – this figure is down by one percentage point compared to 2015. In the UK, women account for 6 percent of CEOs, up one percentage point from 2015. Women CEOs remain significantly rarer in France and Germany at only 2 percent and 1 percent, respectively, unchanged from 2015.
  • Internal promotions are the most common route to the top. In the U.S., Germany and the UK, 85 percent, 68 percent and 61 percent of CEOs were promoted from within. By contrast, only 48 percent of CEOs in France rose to the top from an internal promotion.
  • Financial background comes top in the UK, US and Germany. A background in finance is the most common route to the top for CEOs in the UK (36 percent), U.S. (31 percent) and Germany (26 percent), while engineering is the leading functional background in France (24 percent).

The Route to the Top study by Heidrick & Struggles analyses the backgrounds of chief executives at the complete FTSE 100 in the United Kingdom, the largest 100 companies in the United States as reported in the Fortune 500, the DAX 30 and MDAX 50 in Germany, and the SBF 120 in France.

About Heidrick & Struggles:
Heidrick & Struggles (Nasdaq: HSII) serves the executive talent and leadership needs of the world's top organizations as a premier provider of leadership consulting, culture shaping and senior-level executive search services. Heidrick & Struggles pioneered the profession of executive search more than 60 years ago. Today, the firm serves as a trusted advisor, providing integrated leadership solutions and helping its clients change the world, one leadership team at a time.

Media Contact:
Chiara Pierdomenico - Marketing & Communications Manager, EMEA
+44 20 7075 4236,

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