There are as many CEOs of ASX200-listed companies with a background in technology as there are female chief executives. Not many.

The recently released Robert Half CEO Tracker found that only 6 per cent of ASX200-listed CEOs have a background in technology, compared with 50 per cent who have background in finance.

This figure is on par with the Robert Half FTSE100 CEO Tracker, which shows the number of UK CEOs with a technology background has grown from just three in 2014 t0 11 in 2017.

While digital is yet to make much of an impact on the profile of the typical Aussie CEO, it is on the agenda. According to a recent study from recruiter Harvey Nash board level awareness of digital is growing thanks to high profile examples of disruption.

David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, said he is seeing a growing demand for executive leaders to be more digitally literate.

“As technology continues to accelerate so too must the profile of the modern CEO – business leaders are now expected to be somewhat digitally literate and familiar with how technology can shape the future of their business,” Jones said.

“Executive leaders need to be aware of the opportunities digital transformation presents, while at the same time embracing a technological mindset that allows them to create business growth and excel their competitive advantage.”

Despite increased awareness, skill shortages and cultural barriers still present significant obstacles to digital transformation.

“Companies will need to proactively pursue digitally literate employees in the coming years to fully leverage the benefits of digital transformation. This will inevitably facilitate the natural skills transition of senior leaders who openly adapt to the digital needs of their organisation,” Jones said.

“In the future, market demand will increase for professionals with well-rounded IT skillsets who are digitally literate and savvy – but who also display adept communication skills and who are adaptable to change. In the meantime, companies can also be proactive to change by ensuring their staff have the proper training and professional development required to properly manage digital transformation.”

The CEO Profile

The research has found that the top position in the workplace is still male-dominated, as the average ASX 200 CEO is male (94 per cent). Only 12 ASX 200 CEOs are women.

Recruiter Robert Half analysed publicly available information to document the background and experience of every current ASX 200 CEO including their professional and educational background, gender, and length of tenure.

The report found, 62 per cent of the current ASX 200 CEOs were promoted to the top job internally, with the average tenure length being eight years before being promoted to CEO.

One-third (33 per cent) were hired as CEO externally, and 5 per cent of the ASX 200 listed CEOs are the original founder of the company.

The majority (61 per cent) of CEOs have been in the role for less than five years, more than one in four (26 per cent) have been in their position for six to 10 years and 13 per cent for more than 11 years, with the longest tenure currently held at 44 years.

Key figures from The Robert Half CEO Tracker:

  • 94 per cent are male
  • 50 per cent have a finance background
  • 47 per cent of ASX 200-listed CEOs are based in Sydney
  • 54 per cent have completed a postgraduate degree
  • 59 per cent have international work experience
  • 61 per cent have been in the role for five years or less
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