From NY Times Upshot, comes an interactive which uses data from LinkedIn to calculate the probability of being an executive based on six different factors:

  • Gender
  • Experience
  • Undergrad
  • Postgrad degree
  • Place
  • Number of roles in previous jobs

Here’s a sample of the interactive chart which uses one set of assumptions (go to the link above to create your own scenario):


What are the key findings about the best way to occupy the corner office? From the NY Times:

To get a job as a top executive, new evidence shows, it helps greatly to have experience in as many of a business’s functional areas as possible. A person who burrows down for years in, say, the finance department stands less of a chance of reaching a top executive job than a corporate finance specialist who has also spent time in, say, marketing. Or engineering. Or both of those, plus others.

However, there is still such a thing as too much variety: Switching industries has a negative correlation with corporate success, which may speak to the importance of building relationships and experience within an industry. Switching between companies within an industry neither helps nor hurts in making it to a top job.

These are some of the big findings in a new study of 459,000 onetime management consultants by the social network LinkedIn. Experience in one additional functional area improved a person’s odds of becoming a senior executive as much as three years of extra experience. And working in four different functions had nearly the same impact as getting an M.B.A. from a top-five program.

Reflection questions for your students:

  • Create three scenarios for yourself based on different sets of assumptions. Write down the assumptions in a table and the percentages if you had one role and six roles in previous jobs.
  • What factors seemed to explain the differences in these percentages?
  • Why do you think each of these variables have an impact on one’s career?
  • Which factor do you think is most important to getting promoted to an executive position at a company?
  • Which variables lead to the highest probability of getting to be the boss?