An article by authors Botelho, Powell, and Wong, published in the Harvard Business Review explored how people become CEOs by examining their career paths. For CEOs defined as sprinters, there was an average of 24 years from their first job to becoming the chief executive officer of their company. This 24 year time gap was faster when compared to most CEOs in their field. Thus the authors classified these "sprinters" into three categories.
Category A: contained people that went from big firms to small companies or started their own business; this allowed sprinters to gain more experience. Bothelho and colleagues referred to these as sprinters as “go small to go big" and "in each case, they used the opportunity to build something from the ground up and make an outsize impact.”
Category B: contained people that made a significant change also called leapers. These individuals took risks by making a big leap.
Category 3: contained people who inherited a big mess and were able to provide leadership to manage the crisis. This showcased their ability to “assess a situation calmly, make decisions under pressure, take calculated risks, rally others around them, and persevere in the face of adversity.”
Overall, this is a fascinating article which I would encourage any individual thinking about a career pathway to read. Whether from chemist to CEO; considering how to take calculated risks can catapult your career! Opportunities to advance your career exist if you consider unconventional pathways.
The HBR article can be found here: