How to become a CEO of a fortune 500 company

Written by nicholas katers
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How to become a CEO of a fortune 500 company
(Photo by Jimmy McDonald (Flickr))

The main motivator for executives to chase after CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies is financial security. Forbes magazine reported that CEOs at Fortune 500 companies earned an average of £7.1 million in 2006 with £3.5 million coming from company stocks and options. The total compensation for Fortune 500 CEOs in 2006 was £3.5 billion, demonstrating the financial boon of becoming a chief executive officer. Your goal of becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company cannot be achieved without a sterling resume, the right education and a willingness to work harder than your competitors.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Resume
  • Business attire
  • PDA

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  1. 1

    Start on your path to becoming a CEO by pursuing an undergraduate degree in your desired field. Work hard to complete general education requirements and major coursework with top grades to improve your academic qualifications. Augment your undergraduate education with internships and study abroad opportunities that will broaden your world view.

  2. 2

    Enhance your chances of becoming a Fortune 500 CEO by receiving a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from a respected program. An advanced degree in your academic field will not provide the leadership skills and grounding needed for executive-level positions. MIT's Sloan School of Business and other institutions have educated generations of chief executive, financial and technology officers.

  3. 3

    Write a concise resume that shows your leadership, communication and organizational skills as you apply for mid-level positions. Your resume should highlight managerial and supervisory positions going back to the beginning of your working life that appeal to hiring managers. Attach an extensive list of references to your resume to demonstrate a positive reputation among former employers.

  4. 4

    Amass a wardrobe of black, blue and brown suits and accessories that will impress your managers as you start your career. Your wardrobe should include enough matching shoes, belts, shirts and jackets for an entire week without replication. Continue to add to this wardrobe as you earn your first few paychecks to avoid wearing the same clothes week after week.

  5. 5

    Aim for leadership opportunities at every stage of your career to prepare for a career as a CEO. Mail-room clerks, administrative assistants and salespeople interested in becoming executives should volunteer for project leadership positions. These positions can be cited during job interviews and evaluations to demonstrate your qualifications for management jobs.

  6. 6

    Pursue weekend and night seminars in business management from industry groups such as the American Management Association. These seminars are used by aspiring executives and entrepreneurs trying to integrate traditional management practices with new technology. Look for similar seminars through your company's human resources department to increase your knowledge of business management within plain view of executives, trainers and managers.

  7. 7

    Exploit every opportunity to meet with the current CEO and other officers to learn about the keys to successful management. Attend lectures, optional meetings and company-sponsored events where you can spend a few minutes chatting with executives outside of the office.

  8. 8

    Cultivate contacts within your industry to increase your profile while developing references for future advancement. Meet with managers, engineers and designers from rival companies at conferences to learn about the industry from a new perspective. Stay in touch with former employers, interns and colleagues to learn about executive-level opportunities with different employers.

  9. 9

    Advocate for a particular viewpoint on your industry through traditional and new media outlets. Create a personal blog separate from your company to espouse your views on industry trends, competing companies and other information without damaging your employer's reputation. Ask your employer if you can submit articles to business magazines, such as Inc., on the company's behalf to support new initiatives.

  10. 10

    Look for advancement to the position of CEO within your industry instead of rising slowly through your first employer. Your path to a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company may rest with a competitor instead of loyally toiling away for decades in middle-management positions. Keep an eye out for executive-level openings within your industry to find faster career paths.

Tips and warnings

  • Stay conversant in the latest business and consumer technology as you rise through the ranks of a Fortune 500 company. Ensure your availability to clients and supervisors with a PDA with web browsing functions. Learn social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, along with industry-specific software to improve your skill set.
  • Prepare for a career of long hours, full work weeks and working vacations as you try to become a Fortune 500 CEO. Develop a sustainable workout routine complete with cardiovascular work and stretching to avoid physical health problems. Take moments during your busy day to contact loved ones and pursue hobbies to stave off mental stress.

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