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#5 – Project Managers have the skills to become CEOs, so why don’t they?

By | Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez | World Champion in Project Management | Thinkers50 | Director PMO | PMI Past Chair | Professor | Author | Executive Coach

It is well known among the project management community that there is a glass ceiling in the career path of project managers. Only a tiny proportion have the opportunity to reach the top of the corporate ladder and land the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) job.

In this newsletter, l want to analyze if project managers have all the skills and competencies to make it into the CEO’s chair.

I believe Project Managers are some of the best candidates to be CEO. In their daily work, they have to bring together all the disparate aspects of theory, reality, vision, process, finances, value, politics, and human nature to create successful outcomes.

When you demonstrate success in managing enterprise-level projects and organizational resources from a holistic perspective, you should be a viable candidate to move up to a CEO-level position.

However, over many years – even decades – I have noticed that CEOs hardly ever come from a project management position. 

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CEOs follow very similar career paths 

The ‘next CEO’ tends to come through very limited channels (either from within the company or from outside):

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