From IRO to business leader: The pathway to CEO?

Dec 11, 2017
Managing partner of IR executive recruitment specialist Broome Yasar Partnership shares findings from industry study on IROs’ career paths and ambitions

We have seen a momentous transformation in recent years in the credibility, perception and positioning of investor relations leaders, bringing new possibilities for career progression that were out of the question only a generation ago. 

Gone are the days when IR was a subset of the communications function or a back-office junior role within the finance department. Now, as our recently launched industry study From Investor Relations to Business Leadership proves, many have successfully made the transition into wider business leadership roles with some former high-profile IR directors having made the ultimate move to chief executive.

The report, conducted in association with the UK’s IR Society, provides role models for future career journeys by profiling 13 former investor relations leaders who have used their experience in IR as a vital stepping stone on the way to the C-suite. This trend has seen many transition into other senior roles including CFO, head of strategy, corporate development and chief of staff, as well as non-executive directorships. In addition, an increasing number of senior investor relations directors are now taking on the corporate affairs function to broaden their experience and use this as a stepping stone into a wider business leadership role. 

Our latest research, conducted among 150 senior investor relations directors, shows that more than a third are keen to transition into a senior leadership role outside of IR over the next 10 years – a significant proportion and one we believe reflects the seniority, sophistication and ambition of today’s IRO.

According to our previous report focused on the transition from corporate affairs to business leadershipToday’s Corporate Affairs Director, Tomorrow’s CEO? – one third of a chief executive’s time is now estimated to be spent communicating. A growing proportion of future leaders will learn such skills from periods of employment in corporate affairs or investor relations.

The sophistication of the investor relations role has resulted in a stronger, more adaptable, ambitious and respected member of the team, so it’s no surprise that these individuals are now moving into ever-more senior roles. As a specialist executive search firm in investor relations and corporate affairs, we have long predicted these trends. Career advancement in our industry is now limitless and there are numerous examples to prove this. By raising the profile of our profession as a potential source of the CEOs of the future, we hope and expect this route will become even better trodden in the future.

Oskar Yasar is a managing partner at Broome Yasar Partnership

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