Diverse backgrounds popular with CEO appointments: report

How many CEOs are hired internally?

Diverse backgrounds popular with CEO appointments: report

CEO appointments in 2023 remained stable in the Asia-Pacific region despite an unpredictable global landscape.

There were 225 CEO appointments made between 2022 and 2023 in the region, according to a report from Heidrick & Struggles, which analysed 1,221 CEO placements at the largest publicly listed companies from 27 markets.

"Amidst the dynamic global landscape, out data highlights the continued stability in CEO appointments across the APAC region," said Jiat Hui Wu, partner-in-charge at Heidrick & Struggles Singapore, in a statement.

The report revealed a slight growth in gender diversity among CEOs, with eight per cent of global appointments going to females.

The APAC region logged a higher 12% of female representation for CEOs.

Australia and New Zealand led the world with the highest share of female appointments with 15%, while Singapore saw a 13% share of women appointments.

Diversified backgrounds among CEOs

Another trend is the growing value of CEOs who have cross-sector expertise and regional exposure to their roles, according to the report.

"Organisations are strategically identifying experienced leaders with diverse backgrounds and cross-border experience, recognising their ability to navigate complexities across multiple geographies and drive innovation across various business lines," Wu said.

Globally, the share of CEO appointments that considered cross-border experience is at 34%, with APAC inching slightly higher with 38%.

Singapore logged the highest rate among APAC markets with 47%; Australia and New Zealand also recorded 44%.

"Our research underlines the growing importance of CEOs who have diverse backgrounds and international exposure, in order to navigate challenges and drive innovation in today's globalised business landscape, given the volatile environments driven by geopolitical tensions and the evolving ways of working," said Rodney Ng, Principal at Heidrick & Struggles Hong Kong, in a statement.

"When appointing CEOs, many organisations often look at the candidates' ability and experience to deal with international matters. Incoming CEOs should be able to understand global complexities and adapt to local context."

Recruiting executives internally

Internal talents were also most preferred than external recruits when it comes to appointing CEOs, according to the report.

Globally, the share of CEO appointments that were pooled from an organisation’s internal talent was at 63%, with APAC registering 65%.

Singapore had the highest share of internal appointments at 77%, surpassing global and APAC averages, the report found. The country also had more preference to CEOs with more C-suite experience, with 90% of appointments there having prior C-suite experience and 83% previously holding the position of CEO.

Australia and New Zealand also reflected this trend, as their CEO appointments had prior experience as CFO (32%) and COO (28%).

Organisations from Hong Kong were more open to appointing CEOs without prior C-suite experience, according to the report.

CEO appointments in the financial hub also placed less emphasis on the candidate's age compared with other markets in the report.

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