How do I get to become a CEO?

I
am 39, CIPD qualified and in the process of applying for upgrade to MIPD. I am
personnel manager for a law firm – a role which is 90 per cent operational and
10 per cent strategic. I want a greater challenge, more responsibility and the
chance to grow and I find the role of CEO is increasingly appealing. What role
should I be looking for and what qualifications will help me achieve my goal?

Anna
Cook, project co-ordinator, Chiumento

You
have good experience working for a professional organisation and are currently
in a position of strength, with time to explore all the avenues available to
you.

Decide
what you enjoy and try to identify in more detail what jobs would appeal (even
if they are too senior for now). This will help you identify the most logical
route.

You
mention man management – is this managing a team or acting as a guide to line
managers? If you want to manage a team, this will have implications for the
size of organisation you work for. If you mean coaching and developing
partners, this is an area you could develop while working for your current
employer.

Network
with others in HR to establish what experience is required to progress and,
more importantly, what opportunities exist.

Moving
to a CEO role in professional services could be a possibility, although you are
right in thinking that you may need further study and experience.

If
you want a more strategic overview of the general business sector, an MBA would
be worth considering. It is a well-recognised qualification and would open up
different sectors to you. In any case, researching the course will help to give
you some answers as to what you would enjoy doing and why.

Margaret
Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning

The
next challenging post for you could be a more demanding role in a large
organisation – perhaps one with employee-relations issues. This would be good
experience if you want to develop into a CEO role too. In general, such posts
are not advertised, you need to get onto specialist agency lists or use your
networks.

There
aren’t really any specific qualifications for a CEO post, but there are
attributes you need of intrinsic motivation and drive, financial and commercial
acumen and possible leadership qualities. These may give you something to
ponder upon.

Jo
Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

At
this stage, defining the type of role you want is very important and given you are
looking for the opportunity to grow, you may wish to consider a move to a
larger organisation where you can work as part of a team and which will
potentially offer you greater scope for career development.

You
may wish to consider whether you wish to stay in the legal sector. Your
background lends itself to the industry, but that should not preclude you from
considering other environments.

The
current job market is not as buoyant as it has been, but there are
opportunities, so while I am surprised you are finding there are none
available, finding the right role may take longer than you originally
anticipated.

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