Belgian CEOs are younger, highly educated and stay longer at the top – study

Belgian CEOs are younger, highly educated and stay longer at the top – study

The heads of Belgium’s top companies are young, highly educated and have been at the top of their fields for longer than the average of 885 CEOs from 15 other countries, according to an annual study carried out by executive search company Heidrick & Struggles (H&S).

Every year H&S carried out a study of the profile of top executives, and its study this year includes the 21 top executives of the Bel-20 companies (real estate firm WTP has two chief executives) for the first time.

Nearly four in ten Bel-20 CEOs (38%) were appointed under the age of 45, putting Belgium in second place after Norway (44%). The average age at which Belgian CEOs are appointed, 47 years, is well below the average of the study as a whole (49.5 years).

Belgian CEOs are also the most well-educated of all the countries looked at, with 86% having graduated from higher education, compared to 58% on average. However an MBA seems to be less of an essential qualification, with only 33% of CEOs holding one. Having said that, the average for the entire sample was only 25%.

Belgium’s CEOs spend the longest in their post, with an average of nine years on the job, compared to an international average of six years. And in fact in some countries – China, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland, the average is only four years. The average current ago of Belgian CEOs is 55 years, almost the same as the international average of 56 years.

The report – “Route to the Top” also reveals that diversity in company leadership is still lacking, with only 5% of CEOs being women, compared to 4% last year. Chief executives, the report says, “remain overwhelmingly male and Caucasian”.

While CEOs themselves are not yet as diverse as their workforces or customer bases, given future demands on organizations where diversity will grow in importance as a key differentiator that contributes directly to the bottom line, boards and CEOs have established diversity—of gender, ethnicity, nationalism, and industry background, among others—as a key criterion for developing next-generation leaders,” the report concludes.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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