Changing Job Functions Is Good, Changing Industries Is Not So Good -- Working across job functions, like marketing or finance, provides the well-rounded understanding of business operations that are needed to become an executive. Each additional job function provides a boost that’s, on average, equal to three years of work experience. But switching industries -- perhaps because of the learning curve or relationships lost -- has a slight negative impact to moving up the corporate ladder.
MBAs Are Worth The Investment, But Pedigree Matters -- For the average ex-consultant in our sample, having an MBA from a top five program (per U.S. News and World Report) provides a net boost that’s equivalent to 13 years of work experience. In contrast, a non top ranked MBA provides a net boost of only five years. And while other advanced degrees -- like a PhD, Juris Doctor, or Master’s -- have increased in popularity among consultants and help with becoming an executive, they don’t provide the same boost as an MBA in our models. Nearly 80 percent of these non-MBA advanced degrees are some type of Master's -- typically in business, like economics and accounting, or technology, like computer science and IT.
Location Matters -- In the U.S., working in New York City increased the chances of becoming an executive, while Houston and Washington, D.C., decreased the chances. Internationally, Mumbai and Singapore provided the greatest boost, while Sao Paulo and Madrid had the most negative effects. This could be in part due to the nature of the industries that are prevalent in these cities (for example, the financial services industry tends to be more hierarchical than the high-tech industry), as well as the higher concentration of company headquarters in those regions.
Men Have A Slight Advantage -- All of the factors have the same effect on both men’s and women’s careers. But a woman who has the same profile as a man needs an average of 3.5 more years of work experience to reach the same probability of becoming an executive.
How Choices Impact Your Likelihood Of Becoming An Executive
The easiest way to interpret the findings of our model that predicts the probability of becoming an executive is through a comparison of three different former consultant profiles, all of whom have 15 years of work experience:
Person A is male, has an undergraduate degree and no master’s degree, lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and has worked in one job function for three companies in three industries. His probability of becoming an executive is six percent.
Person B is male, has an undergraduate degree from a top international school and a non-MBA Master's, lives in London, and has worked in two different job functions for two companies in two industries. His probability of becoming an executive is 15 percent.
Person C is female, has an undergraduate degree from a top 5 U.S. program and an MBA from a top 5 U.S. program, lives in New York City, and has worked across four different job functions for four companies in a single industry. Her probability of becoming an executive is 63 percent.
Now let’s see what would happen if Person B made the following choices:
If he worked in one industry rather than two, his probability of becoming an executive would increase three percentage points.
If he got an undergraduate degree from a top 10 U.S. undergraduate program rather than a top international school, his probability would increase another three percentage points.
If he worked for four companies rather than two, his probability would increase four percentage points.
If he moved from London to New York City, his probability would increase four percentage points.
If he worked across four job functions rather than two, his probability would increase eight percentage points -- a 1.5X effect.
If he worked for 10 more years, his probability would increase 15 percentage points -- a 2X effect.
If he got an MBA from a Top 5 U.S. program rather than a non-MBA Master’s, his probability would increase 21 percentage points -- a 2X effect.
Had Person B made all of the choices highlighted above, his probability of becoming an executive would increase from 15 percent to 81 percent. Our analysis reveals that getting an MBA from a top 5 U.S. program is the choice that would have most significantly increased Person B’s likelihood of becoming an executive. But getting an MBA from a top 5 U.S. program isn’t feasible for most people. So my recommendation for those of you who want to become executives is to work across as many job functions as possible.
Neil Irwin at the New York Times published this story today featuring our research. It includes an interactive graphic that calculates your likelihood of becoming an executive. The New York Times is offering everyone unlimited access to stories this weekend, so be sure to check it out! I’ve also listed a few common LinkedIn member personas below. See which one is most comparable to your career, and what your likelihood of becoming an executive is. And then check out the more than 10,000 executive job openings on LinkedIn.
For many people nowadays, the first port of call upon discovering an unusual rash or feeling a worrying pain is not the doctor, but rather Google. Figures from Eurostat show the countries which are relying the most on medical information from the internet. In Luxembourg, almost three quarters of respondents said that they had turned to the web for health-related information - an increase of 44 percentage points on 2006. Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands are also among the top European countries turning to Google et al for advice.
This chart shows the share of 16-74 year-olds using the internet for seeking health-related information in 2006 and 2016.