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Navigating the path to becoming a CEO

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Welcome to the latest edition of Eton Bridge Partners’ Pathways report series.

Over the last 3 years, our Pathways reports have been a guide for professionals aiming for the top executive positions of corporate leadership. After exploring the career trajectories of Chief Financial Officers and Chief People Officers, we now turn our focus to the most common path to becoming a CEO.

Drawing on data from 1,500 UK CEO appointments in 2022 and 2023, across diverse companies, from SMEs to listed corporations, our report sheds light on the pathways to the CEO suite. For aspiring leaders, it serves as a compass, offering insights into common profiles and typical routes that pave the way to executive leadership.

We answer key questions in the report and highlight crucial insights for both aspiring and established CEOs as well as companies seeking to hire or develop a pipeline for the position.

  • Are organisations leaning towards internal CEO succession?
  • How does the gender gap present in CEO appointments?
  • Are international experience and advanced qualifications prerequisites for the CEO role?
  • Do sectors aligned with the UK’s service-oriented economy present better opportunities for aspiring CEOs?
  • Can Non-Executive Director (NED) experience provide a strategic edge in the selection process?

A notable trend highlighted in our report is the migration of CEOs towards industries at the forefront of digital transformation and innovation. Technology, digital marketing, and biotechnology sectors beckon leaders equipped with digital skills and a vision for sustainability. This shift reflects broader trends toward sectors adapting to technological advancements and evolving consumer behaviours, such as e-commerce, renewable energy, EdTech, and digital content creation.

Our Pathways Report illuminates the roadmap to CEO, offering invaluable insights for aspiring leaders navigating today’s dynamic business landscape. With adaptability and technological proficiency as guiding principles, success in future-oriented industries beckons those who dare to lead the charge.

We invite you to download our report and find out more about the route to the top executive position.


Download your copy of the CEO Pathways report here.


CEO Pathways book cover image