Company Formation

How to become a CEO?

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The smooth running of any company, small or large, is dependent on the skills and abilities of the C-level officers. The C-level officers are the chief executives like the CEO, COO, CFO, CPO, etc. The list is a lot. All in all, the management team supervises the day-to-day activities of the company. Whether the company thrives or fails rests in its hands. Now, at the top of that ladder, managing the management team is the CEO.

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Answer adeosun
Oct 25, 22 · min read
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When it comes to the final decision-making, the CEO is in charge of that. This is one of the reasons why companies don’t just make anyone CEO. There are a lot of things put into consideration before making the choice.

In this article, you will find out who the CEO is, what he does, his skill and educational requirements, and how to go about becoming one. It is a package deal. Have an enjoyable read.

Who is a CEO?

The CEO is the Chief Executive Officer of a company and has the unique duty of managing all the C-level officers of the company as well as other employees in the company. 

In short, the CEO manages the senior management. This position can also be referred to as the Chief Managing Officer (CMO) or the Chief Managing Director (CMD).

In the UK, no law states the educational requirements for CEOs per se. However, it is required that the CEO must at least be 15 years old and be eligible to be appointed for the role. 

In other words, the CEO position is based on appointments and may be inherited from a predecessor if it was willed that way in a testament.

As mentioned, there is no specific educational requirement for CEOs. It is advisable though to at least have an MBA degree which is an administrative degree that could equip one with the knowledge of management and leadership skills.

While the CEO may be at the top of the food chain though, he also has to report to the board of directors who are appointed by the shareholders. So, while you seemingly wield a lot of power as the CEO, that power does not go unchecked. 

In fact, the CEO position is by appointment and can be terminated at any time by the board of directors as provided in the company’s articles and memorandum of organisation.

In the next subheading, we will be talking about the responsibilities of the CEO. The list is inexhaustible and you can probably find one or two more to add to this list we have compiled here.

The responsibilities of a CEO

Note that the roles of CEOs differ by organisation. What that implies is that your job description may vary, depending on the company you are heading. The list we have provided here is just the basic roles you have to perform, no matter the organisation you are working with.

  • Manage the C-level management team – this is one important responsibility you must fulfil as the CEO. The C-level officers are also called the C suite. They include the chief financial officer (CFO), chief operations officer (COO), chief procurement officer (CPO), chief production officer (CPO), chief information officer (CIO), chief human resources officer (CHRO), chief marketing officer (CMO), chief security officer (CSO), chief compliance officer (CCO), etc. The name and list depend on the units available in the company. Every unit is headed by a C suite and all of them are managed by the CEO.
  • Draw up the company yearly budget – While this may seem like a job responsibility for the CFO, the CEO must see to its drafting and execution. In fact, each departmental head will create their own budget but the CEO must see to the aggregation of it all. This responsibility is such that, as the CEO, you can either approve or disapprove of some of the budgeted expenses of a department as you see fit.
  • Adequately represent the tenets of the company – A CEO must ensure that he upholds the goals and objectives of the company with no bias. You will be the face of the company. Therefore, you are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the company is well-represented everywhere. The CEO cannot be sabotaging the efforts of his own company. When the CEO is making a personal deal that may affect the profits of the company he is managing, he is duty-bound to either pre-inform the board of directors or let it go completely. Every action you take as the CEO must be representative of the company’s goals and objectives.

  • Serve as a liaison between the company and its stakeholders – The stakeholders of the company include the employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, government, directors, shareholders, etc. These are people that influence the success or failure of a company. So, as the CEO, you have the responsibility to make sure that you foster a good relationship among all the important stakeholders. You must be able to recognize the order of importance of each stakeholder, how many of their decisions affect your company, and consequently treat them in accordance. The ability to recognise the importance of each stakeholder is an important role for the CEO. You can simply employ the help of an expert to help analyse the roles of each stakeholder in your company if you are finding it difficult to do.

  • Ultimate decision making – As the CEO, you have the responsibility of determining the direction in which your company is going. The type of product sold, who it is selling to, production lines and branding, advertisement methods and platforms, decisions of how to enter new markets, risks to take those not to, and many others are your responsibility as the CEO. Of course, the departments come up with the plans but it's your ultimate decision on whether to take action on those suggestions or not.

Consequent to the above-listed duties of the CEO, the next subheading will tell you the skills that are important to have.

Skills and Attributes required of a CEO

  • Impeccable decision-making ability. This is perhaps the most important skill of all. There will be a lot of advice coming from the C suites, the directors, and sometimes the shareholders. Sometimes the government may even come up with policies that could affect your company. A great CEO must be able to weigh all the available options and come up with the winning decision. What that entails is that you must be able to see several steps ahead at every point and be able to make decisions to make your company come out winning each time. Just like in a chess game or poker, the ability to see beyond the present gameplay is important for every CEO.
  • Excellent communication skills. The CEO of a company must be able to effectively communicate the intents and goals of the company to the management team and the employees at large. Having great oratory skills may come in handy when you are in an executive or board meeting or in a social gathering where you need to sell your company to potential clients or investors. Excellent writing skills are also important because you may not always have the opportunity to meet potential clients or investors in person.

  • Effective management and leadership skills. Some people are born with the natural ability to manage and lead while others do not. However, the skill can be learnt. You can either get this through apprenticeship, educational route, or experience by years on the job. In fact, you may never be able to land a job as the CEO if you do not have a proven record of management experience; especially if you are not inheriting the position by default.

  • Organisational skills. You will need to organise the company into units and departments as needed. Sometimes, the board of directors may just hire the CEO and saddle him with the responsibility of creating departments and appointing heads to each one. What that means is that you must be able to organise the company in a manner such that every department works together effectively without overlapping or lapses in duties and responsibilities.

  • Passionate. You must be passionate about the goals and visions of the company such that you are willing to go the extra mile to see them come to fruition. As such, you must be self-driven. Most often, it is your passion that keeps you up at night when major decisions are to be made. You only rest when things are running smoothly.

What are the benefits?

There are some benefits to being the CEO of a company and they are listed below.

  1. Prestige – there is obvious prestige in being the ultimate decision-maker in a company and you get to rank among the top individuals in the business world.

  2. Added benefits and bonuses – the benefits and bonuses that may come with the position of the CEO could include official housing and cars, access to the company’s aircraft fleet (if they have one), and sometimes dividends from being part of the shareholders. Yearly bonuses may be more than the yearly salary and that is what makes the take-home salaries of CEOs huge.

How to become a CEO

There are three different routes one can take to becoming the CEO of a company.

  1. Educational – this route can either be through a diploma in administration or a bachelor's degree in business management or any other related course. It will be an added advantage to get an MBA as well as any other professional certification such as CMA, PMP, CMP, CMQ, etc. The more certifications you have, the more likely it is to land the role of a CEO.

  2. Apprenticeship – in the UK, the apprenticeship route could take up to 2 to 3 years. This involves obtaining a Senior Leader Master’s Degree. While this degree may require at least a second-class degree in a relevant management course in the university, there are exceptions where a strong experience and professional certification background are considered equivalents.

  3. Promotions by year of experience – maybe you never set out to be a CEO but you can attain that level of professional attainment if you have the required years of experience in managerial roles. The first two routes mentioned require you to have a preconceived intention of being a company executive one day and you go all out to get the required certifications. Here though, all you need to do is to be good at your job. Obtaining certifications in addition to the experiences may however be of added advantage.


Aspiring to be the CEO of a company is a noble one but requires some level of commitment and a goal-getter attitude from you. Alternatively, you can simply form your own company and be the CEO of it. The role and skill requirements are still the same either way.

How to become a CEO?

It is recommended to:
HowTo step image

1. Get the education.

It is required, but not compulsory to have an educational background in administrative courses. There are alternatives to this of course if you have the required experiences and certifications. You should know however though that CEOs with at least a master's degree are at the forefront of their career.

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