From CA to CEO

What does it really take to rise to the top of an organization?

By Leon Goren, CA

CA magazine recently published Leon Goren’s view of what it takes for CAs to become CEOs. Due to space limitations, only a summary could appear. This month, on the CA website, the full article appears. Here are some introductory paragraphs—for the full article, click the URL below:

For CAs, it’s only natural to wonder what it might take to become a CEO. But there’s no map for getting to the top. Chief executives rise through organizations in many roles and with a multitude of backgrounds. Former Xerox CEO Anne M. Mulcahy started off at the company with a degree in English and journalism and worked for 16 years as a sales rep before being named president in May 2000. McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner sailed right from the US Navy to a position as a restaurant manager trainee with no postsecondary education in between. And Cable & Wireless CEO Jim Marsh started at KPMG as an accountant.

That said, a CA designation can definitely advance your prospects when the opportunity arises. A Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants study (see “C-suite CAs continue to deliver returns,” CAmagazine, June/July 2009, p. 7;, notes that nearly 10% of CEOs and presidents of Report on Business 1000 companies were CAs. It says ROB companies with a CA at the helm also performed better on several key financial measures, including return on equity and return on capital. Naturally, financial expertise, professional conduct and the ability to work with the board of directors can be trump cards if you are looking to the top spot. (I actually went from working as a CA to being an entrepreneur to serving as president of an executive mentoring and coaching organization.)

Beyond financial savvy, what does it take to make the leap to the executive suite? First and foremost, it requires an understanding of what the position  involves. Here are the two key elements of the president/CEO’s role…For more click here:

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