What Paths You Can Take to Become a CEO

A CEO is usually the highest ranking employee within any business. They are responsible for all operational, strategic and financial performances. There are a number of routes to take to become a CEO, from starting your own business to moving up the career path and establishing yourself as the CEO of a business.

In this post, we will detail a checklist for getting into the role.

Firstly Though, What is a CEO (Chief Executive Officer)?

The highest-ranking individual in a corporation or organisation is the CEO, which stands for Chief Executive Officer. The CEO is in charge of a company’s or organization’s overall success as well as making top-level management choices. They may seek advice on major matters, but they have the last say when it comes to making decisions. CEOs can also be referred to as chief executive, president, or managing director.

The Chief Executive Officer is directly responsible to and accountable to the Board of Directors for the company’s performance. The Board of Directors (BoD) is a group of people who have been elected to represent the company’s shareholders. The CEO is frequently a member of the board of directors, and in some cases, the chairwoman.

The Roles and Responsibilities of the CEO

The CEO is responsible for managing the formulation and execution of long-term strategy with the goal of generating shareholder value, in addition to the general performance of an organisation or firm.

The functions and responsibilities of a CEO differ from one company to the next, and are typically determined by the company’s organisational structure and/or size. In smaller businesses, the CEO takes on a more “hands-on” role, making lower-level business decisions, for example (e.g., hiring of staff). He or she usually solely handles with high-level business strategy and important company decisions in larger companies. Managers or departments are in charge of other responsibilities.

The typical duties, responsibilities, and job description of a CEO include:

1. Communicating, on behalf of the company, with shareholders, government entities, and the public
2. Leading the development of the company’s short- and long-term strategy
3. Creating and implementing the company or organization’s vision and mission
4. Evaluating the work of other executive leaders within the company, including directors, vice presidents, and presidents
5. Maintaining awareness of the competitive market landscape, expansion opportunities, industry developments, etc.
6. Ensuring that the company maintains high social responsibility wherever it does business
7. Assessing risks to the company and ensuring they are monitored and minimized
8. Setting strategic goals and making sure they are measurable and describable

The Paths to Becoming a CEO

Typically, you can land the role of CEO through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • years of working towards the role
  • numerous management training courses
  • experience of successful entrepreneurship


You’ll often need a degree, postgraduate or professional qualification related to the organisation’s work. For example, in areas like business management, finance or law.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in any subject for a postgraduate course

Through an Apprenticeship

You can get into the CEO role through a senior leader master’s degree apprenticeship.

This will usually take 2 to 3 years to complete.

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

Through Hard Work

You could move into the CEO role if you’ve got several years’ experience of working at senior management level, along with commercial expertise.

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • business management skills
  • the ability to use your judgement and make decisions
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to motivate and manage staff
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • financial management skills
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What You’ll Do Day to Day

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • set out the organisation’s aims and priorities and how to meet them
  • work closely with a senior management team to put policies in place
  • manage relationships with business partners
  • make sure the organisation meets its legal obligations
  • report to the organisation’s chairperson or owner
  • promote the organisation at conferences, events and in the media
  • control budgets

Career Path and Progression

You could move between organisations or businesses, or work as a management consultant, advising clients on commercial strategy and policy.

The most common steps up to CEO include: CFO (Chief Financial Officer) and COO (Chief Operating Officer).