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Decision Making

How To Get a Head Start on Your CEO Career

If you have ambitions of becoming a CEO, then you are not alone. Many people aspire to lead organizations, but the path to the top isn’t always clear and easy, only a few people make it there. To reach the top you need to have the right mindset, preparation, and strategy. You can get a head start on your CEO career and increase your chances of success.

What are the responsibilities of a CEO? 

The CEO (chief executive officer) is the highest-ranking executive in an organization and is responsible for overseeing the overall direction and performance of the company. The CEO has a range of responsibilities that are critical to the success of the organization. The CEO must have a deep understanding of the industry and the company’s competitive landscape, and must be able to make strategic decisions that drive growth and profitability. The CEO must also be a strong leader who can inspire and motivate the team to achieve the company’s goals.

How to start a career as a CEO?

Here are some tips to help you get started for a career as a CEO.

  • Define your goal: The first step to getting a head start on your CEO career is to define your goal. What kind of CEO do you want to be? What type of organization do you want to lead? What are your values and priorities as a leader? Defining your goal will help you focus your efforts and build a plan that is tailored to your needs and aspirations.
  • Develop your skills: Once you’ve defined your goal, the next step is to develop the skills you need to achieve it. CEOs require a diverse set of skills, including leadership, strategic thinking, communication, decision-making, financial management, and more. Take courses, attend conferences, and read books on these topics to develop your skills and knowledge. One type of education that a lot of managers prefer is executive education. Executive education programs equip you with a diverse set of skills and prepare you for the challenges in a C – level position. 

Here are some executive education programs for an aspiring CEO.

Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM)

The Berkeley Executive Program in Management (Berkeley EPM) is a general management program that prepares you for the next level of leadership. This program is created in such a way that it helps transform proven leaders into global executives ready to lead the charge. The Berkeley Executive Program in Management encourages its participants to reflect, enhance strategic thinking, and develop authentic leadership. It is designed to create an immersive, relevant, and dynamic learning experience for senior executives, ready for the next level of the leadership challenge. It includes modules on advanced management competencies, leading innovative change, etc., which are a must for a person in C-level positions to ensure the growth of the company.

MIT Professional Education Technology Leadership Program (TLP)

This is a multi-modular program delivered by MIT faculty on campus and virtually, geared towards the development needs of the next generation of technology CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, and emerging leaders.  The program is designed for technology leaders and experienced practitioners from large corporations as well as startups—innovation-oriented firms that are focusing on leveraging emerging digital technologies to remain relevant and competitive in the marketplace. After completing TLP, you will be part of a cohort of global leaders and practitioners. You will also become an integral part of the global MIT Professional Education network and will be considered an alumni of TLP as well as MIT Professional Education.

UCLA Post Graduate Program in Management for Executives (UCLA PGPX)

It is an extensive general management program offered by the UCLA Anderson School of Management, one of the world’s top business schools. It is a part-time program with a modular format that provides great flexibility for busy professionals, while the UCLA faculty and industry leaders ensure that the program covers all aspects of best-in-class management education expected from a highly respected and globally renowned institution. The UCLA PGPX will put you on the map of global leadership, with a combination of strategies, skills, and acumen that will stretch your thinking and hone your abilities as a leader and manager capable of achieving remarkable growth in your business. This program has been designed to expose the participants to management and business leadership essentials in an extensive general management curriculum that is designed to be experiential in learning and applied in focus. 

Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program (ADP)

The Chicago Booth ADP is a rigorous learning journey across 8 modules spread over 9 months and gives you access to the latest management thinking and tools. It is taught by an award-winning faculty at the Chicago Booth School of Business and accomplished senior business leaders. It creates an amazing opportunity to build a strong personal brand and competitively position yourself and your organization. ADP actively engages you in a collaborative learning environment with accomplished peers in London, New Delhi, and Chicago. The Chicago Booth Accelerated Development Program is designed for the global executive with a focus on delivering impact and leveraging the significant history of the Accelerated Development Program delivered across the globe, including London and India. The program is tailored for the busy schedules of senior professionals and is blended in design, with academic on-campus modules and off-campus experiences with online learning and live interactions to complement the on-campus experiences. You will build a global community of like-minded leaders and will become part of the Global ADP Network for life.

  • Gain experience: To become a successful CEO, you need experience in a variety of roles and industries. Start by gaining experience in your current role or by taking on new projects or responsibilities. Seek out opportunities to work with different teams and departments, and take on leadership roles whenever possible.
  • Build your network: Networking is a critical part of building a successful CEO career. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and connect with other professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Seek out mentors and advisors who can guide you on your journey and provide valuable insights and advice.
  • Be proactive: Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you—be proactive in seeking out new challenges and experiences. Look for ways to innovate and improve processes and procedures in your current role, and take the initiative to solve problems and create value for your organization.
  • Embrace change: The business world is constantly evolving, and successful CEOs are able to adapt to change and thrive in uncertain environments. Embrace new technologies, trends, and ideas, and be open to learning from your experiences—both positive and negative.
  • Build a personal brand: As you progress in your career, it’s important to build a personal brand that reflects your values, strengths, and achievements. This can include developing a strong online presence, publishing articles and thought pieces, and speaking at industry events.
  • Be resilient: The path to becoming a CEO is not always smooth or easy. There will be setbacks and challenges along the way, but it’s important to stay focused on your goals and maintain a positive attitude. Learn from your failures and use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  • Seek feedback: Feedback is critical for personal and professional growth. Seek out feedback from colleagues, mentors, and advisors, and be open to constructive criticism. Use this feedback to improve your skills and address any areas where you may be falling short.
  • Stay informed: As a CEO, it’s important to stay informed about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in your industry. Read industry publications, attend conferences and events, and stay up-to-date with regulatory and legal changes that may impact your organization.

Getting a head start on your CEO career requires a combination of hard work, dedication, and strategic thinking. By defining your goal, developing your skills, gaining experience, building your network, being proactive, embracing change, building a personal brand, being resilient, seeking feedback, and staying informed, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your aspirations as a CEO. In conclusion, a CEO career requires a high level of dedication, effort, and skill, but with the right mindset and approach.


Future CEOs often map their career trajectory through substantial operational roles, sometimes running large or international divisions of the company before taking the top job. In some cases, a strong financial background can be an asset. Nearly half of Fortune 100 CEOs previously served as divisional CFOs.

Spencer Stuart found that over the past 20 years, 85 percent of S&P 500 CEOs came from four roles: CFO, COO, divisional CEO, and what the firm refers to as “leapfrog leaders,” or people promoted from a level of management below the C-suite.

There are several steps in getting promoted to the position of the CEO. These steps involve getting the right education and experience, identifying needs at your company, determining what your firm needs, listening to the needs of your staff, deciding how to help, making employees feel valued, building bridges, and ensuring that you show the company that you are an indispensable asset of the company.

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