Tuesday 14 May 2019 12:09 am

Rise of the nerds: Why CEOs are more tech-focused than ever

Chief executives of the UK’s top firms have more technological experience than ever before, helping them better deal with a digitally-focused world, a new study has shown.

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The annual Robert Half CEO tracker, released today, has shown that the proportion of FTSE 100 chief executives with a background in technology increased by 27 per cent in the last year, with 14 per cent now having a background in the sector in 2019.

However, diversity among FTSE 100 chief executives has decreased in 2019, with the number of female heads of firms decreasing from seven per cent in 2018 to six per cent.

The average age for a FTSE 100 boss is 55, unchanged from the previous two years, while 18 per cent are Oxbridge educated, an increase from 16 per cent in 2017.

Financial experience has seen a resurgence amongst the UK’s top bosses, with the number of CEOs with a background in banking or similar sectors increasing from 40 per cent in 2018 to over half in 2019.

Finance remains the most common route to the top, but the trend is declining. The number of bosses with a banking or similar background having fallen from 55 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent a year later.

The CEO tracker showed that the number of chiefs promoted internally has surged in 2019, with nearly half of current heads of firms having been appointed as a result of internal promotion. This compares to 30 per cent in 2018.

Charlie Grubb, UK managing director of Robert Half Executive Search, said: “Today’s CEOs require a changing blend of skills and experience to successfully lead their businesses into the future, with backgrounds in technology and finance equipping an increasing number with the ability to do so.”

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“This is a trend that is increasingly becoming a focus for executive and senior leadership hires within a business as well – especially when coupled with invaluable softer skills such as communication, adaptability and resilience.”