- Twenty-nine percent of CEOs hired post-pandemic came directly from the CFO seat, a higher percentage than in the previous 14 months, a survey of 965 global corporations by executive consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles found.
- Companies continue hiring former CEOs most frequently: 63%, up from just over 40% in the months leading up to the pandemic.
- COOs were another top choice: 27%, up from 18%.
The widened path for CFOs is part of a conservative response by companies looking for a steady hand to help them navigate unfamiliar terrain.
"Our findings indicate that companies have returned to the more traditional comfort zone of candidates, appointing more executives with prior CEO experience and a successful leadership track record," the report said.
For the moment, the report said, companies are de-emphasizing racial, ethnic, gender and other types of diversity hires, and also promoting less internally.
"It makes sense that more companies than usual would turn outward for their next CEO," the report said.
External appointments jumped to 57% since mid-March, up from 35% during the previous five months.
"We have seen similar patterns before," the report said. "Most recently following the 2008 global financial crisis, when companies fell back on proven CEO track records in selecting new CEOs. But this is, by far, the most pronounced shift we have seen in this direction."
- Companies slowed CEO hiring post-pandemic, except in the United Kingdom. Companies based in the U.S., Germany and China hired about a third fewer CEOs than during the same period in 2019; in the U.K., companies hired slightly more.
- New CEO hires tend to be older in the U.S. compared to other areas. The average age of U.S. new-hires is 53, compared to 50 globally. New CEOs are youngest in Ireland, where the average new-hire age is 46.
- Ireland also has the highest percentage of female CEOs, at 15%; Brazil has the lowest, at 0%. Globally, the percentage is 5%.