The FINANCIAL — Dreaming of climbing the corporate ladder to the top and becoming CEO? The FINANCIAL interviewed key company CEOs, asking them to share their knowledge, experience, advice and golden rules on how to become a CEO.
Key company CEOs named education, work experience and personal skills as the major determining factors to becoming a successful CEO.
“All good CEOs are able to assess the situation, adapt their approach and communicate their intentions.
Those wishing to become CEO should obtain relevant education and experience as soon as possible in multiple disciplines and locations.
There are three steps for most: Learn another language, get an MBA and work for at least one multinational company or organization,” declared David Lee, General Director of Magticom and AmCham.
“To become a successful CEO focus on your targets,” advised Atakan Turhan, General Director of Radisson BLU Iveria. “Come up with a good team that you trust and challenge them to reach the target. Be fair and be a good example yourself.”
“Think long term. Have a target you want to reach. First go to the best school in that field. Then choose a company that can offer you a position. Always do your best. Start at the bottom and go step by step to the top. Experience different departments and tasks. Always prepare yourself for the next step and be ready when they are looking for a new candidate. Be honest with yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on converting your weaknesses to strength,” elaborated Mr. Turhan.
“To be a successful CEO means continuously striving towards self development through deepening knowledge of the respective field. Genuinely take care of your fellow associates, select a strong executive team and work on associate development.
Appreciate and celebrate successes and learn from mistakes. Delegate responsibilities and make others grow into their roles with further development prospects. Embrace your guests, always go an extra mile (even if you think you had done enough) and be grateful to those who have paved the way to your success. Balance your work and private life and be there for your family, friends, associates and guests.
Follow the above steps with your own touch and interpretation and do not be afraid to dream large. If you don’t have a dream, it will never come true. Dream, plan, work at it and you will achieve it all,” declared George Togonidze, Director of the Tbilisi Marriott.
“I think there are no “Golden Rules” for becoming a CEO,” said Guy Lewis, CEO of HSBC Bank Georgia.
“Each success story is different and depends on the environment, culture and personality. Alongside strong leadership skills, determination, hard work and relevant experience, plus often being in the right place at the right time, are important success factors.”
“One should aim to become not just a CEO, but a successful CEO. A person who has the capabilities to make positive changes, who can listen and build trust in people has the potential to become a good CEO. These skills can be gained through constant learning, experience, experimenting and hard work,” Guy Lewis said.
“If you want to be the top person, you must work harder and smarter than everyone else in the organization. Success does not happen by luck, but through hard work. Have high standards, values, morals and ethics. Work well with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, the world is all one now. Keep your ego for your private life, in business keep your ego to the side.”
“Learn how to inspire and encourage your teams toward more productivity and innovation. Uncertainty releases adrenalin into your body and mind, trust your instincts. Learn to listen, use other people’s experiences and minds. Understand that these days “good” is just not good enough anymore, you must be innovative. Surround yourself with smart, hard working, positive and loyal people.”
“Listen to your customers. In this century the customer’s voice is louder and clearer than ever, treat your customers as if they own you, because they will make it or break it for you. Make your associates and customers your ambassadors and the sales force of your organization. Know your competitors, study them, analyze their numbers as well as yours, and compare. Get out from behind your desk.”
“Those who plan to become CEO should prepare for long, hard working days. If you are easy on yourself life will be hard on you, if you are hard on yourself, life will be easy on you. Keep yourself away from “negative”, “unproductive” individuals,” said Omer Subasi, General Manager of the Sheraton Batumi.
“My advice to future business leaders is you have to free your memory from the destructive thoughts of yesterday and worries about the future, enjoy today and get the maximum benefit from it by implementing your short term goals and adjusting them to the constraints of your business environment, which will definitely lead to successes in the long term. It is difficult to identify one golden rule on how to become a successful CEO.”
“To be a successful CEO you need a passion for continued improvement. According to my opinion all CEOs are usually happy, but they’re rarely satisfied with themselves and are continually striving to be better. Be ready for an obsession with lifelong learning.”
“I read constantly, attend seminars frequently, and join groups that educate and inspire me. I try to improve the ability to think strategically and execute plans effectively. I can focus on a long or short-term strategy and execute it well to keep the company moving in the right direction. I am trying the desire and ability to be a true ‘Servant Leader’.
I am working to give my team members better tools, improved technology, more efficient work environments and clearer goals. In turn, my employees view mine as resources for employees’ success,” declared Farhod Tashtemirov, General Manager of Citadines
“I don’t have a golden rule for how to become a CEO. All I can say is that once you become a CEO, there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, including not only the success of your company, but also the welfare of your shareholders and employees, especially considering the economy today. Therefore, your focus needs to be on both generating profits and on managing risks related to the business.
Make sure you are worthy of the job you are asked to perform. This means that successful business people must proactively, and often independently, develop the skills necessary to manage all areas of a company’s operations, infrastructure and employees.
You will be required to make critical strategy decisions in several management areas, from HR and financial management to PR and marketing. No single person can be an expert in every area, which is why it’s also important to surround yourself with intelligent, well-informed people who understand different areas of the business to provide you with the insight you need to make the big decisions,” said Lucas Caltrider, CEO of Caltrider Advisors.
The majority of key Georgian companies’ CEOs possess postgraduate degrees according to a survey done by The FINANCIAL conducted approximately two months ago.
“I believe those individuals who possess higher degrees have better opportunities for getting to the top of a company. Especially in a depressed economy, those with higher degrees have a better chance to advance. However CEOs and the top management must have a combination of skills and practical experience, there must be a healthy dose of practical experience to go with those degrees,” said R. Michael Cowgill, President of the Georgian American University.
Cowgill says that the most necessary qualities for being CEO are communication and “people” skills. “In addition, a CEO needs to be able to have both logic and analytic skills. Furthermore, leadership skills and an abundance of patience are essential,” he added.