Top CEOs are male, 60 years old and insiders, says HBR

26 October 2015

Last week Harvard Business Review released the 2015-edition of its top ‘100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World’, this year topped by Novo Nordisk CEO Lars Rebien Sørensen. The list includes both financial and environmental, social, and governance metrics, and analysis shows that top CEOs are insiders, do not hold MBAs, and are males between the ages of 55 and 65.

The ‘100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World’, published annually by the Harvard Business Review, is calculated using two metrics: the long term financial success of the leadership, which includes shareholder return and changes to the company’s market capitalisation, weighted at 80%, and the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of companies, weighted at 20%. This year 907 CEOs from 896 companies based in 30 countries were included in the assessment, representing 46 nationalities.

Top 5 Best-Performing CEOs in the World

This years’ top ranked business leader is Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of diabetes pharmaceutical concern Novo Nordisk, who scores highly on the financial metric (ranked 6 of the top 100) and highly on the ESG (a ranking of 15). On the question of how the mild-mannered, bespectacled executive landed the top spot, HBR says “It’s partly due to his company’s (darkly) fortuitous decision years ago to focus almost exclusively on diabetes treatment. The runaway global growth of the disease has driven up the company’s sales and stock price.” 2014 winner Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, again leads all other CEOs on the purely financial metrics, yet Amazon’s relatively poor ESG score drags Bezos down to #87 overall.

The CEO of the Danish pharmaceutical giant is followed by Cisco boss, John Chambers, who possess strong financial performance (ranked #7), and an ESG score of 69. Pablo Isla from Inditex comes in at number three, scoring well in the financial metric (20) and ESG (49). Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart secures the number four spot, with a good financial score (27) and ESG of 120. WPP boss Martin Sorrell tops off the top 5 list with a financial score of 15 and an ESG ranking of 187.

Founder vs Non Founder - Outsider vs Insider

Top CEO Attributes
Analysis on the dataset reveals insights into what characteristics make for top ranking bosses. One interesting discovery from the analysis is that top CEOs tend to be insiders, promoted from internal ranks – 86 of the 100 on the list are insiders. Of these 86, one in five (19 of the 100) is a founder.

Holding an MBA appears not be a strong requirement for the top job, with only 26% of top CEOs having graduated business school. Being a male in their middle age seems to increase one’s job prospects for a top level position, with 98% of CEOs on the list male and 65 of the 100 positions filled by someone between 55 and 65. Only 1 CEO on the top list is below 45, while two leaders have passed the age of 75.

MBA vs No MBA - Female vs Male

The researchers also look into the industry split of the top 100 CEOs. The results reveal that three industries can be regarded as the ideal breeding ground for high performing leaders: consumer goods, health care and financial services, each with 13 CEOs. Retail comes in at number four with 12 top CEOs, while Energy and Utilities close the list with 2 and 1 CEO(s) respectively.

Industry CEOs


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Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of partners

18 April 2019

Three senior level consultants have been boosted to the rank of Partner at Quantum Advisory, as the firm works to meet heightened levels of client demand. Aled Edwards, Amanda Burdge and Chris Heirene become Partners as long-time Quantum member Rob Davies retires in May after 15 years as a Partner at the firm.

Founded in 2000, Quantum Advisory provides pension and employee benefits services to employers, scheme trustees and members, with five offices across the UK. The firm has enjoyed exponential growth in recent years, following a number of major client wins and booming demand for its services. It opened a new office in Bristol in 2016 to service the South West and in 2017 relocated its Cardiff office to a larger site within the Welsh capital to house the increased workforce. More recently, Quantum relocated its Amersham, Birmingham and London offices to more spacious premises in the centre of both cities to cope with demand.

The financial services consultancy, which employs 115 people across the UK, has promoted three senior team members to Partner, as part of its wider growth plans. The firm has moved Aled Edwards from Principal Consultant & Actuary, while Amanda Burdge has ascended from Principal Investment Consultant. Chris Heirene, former IT Manager, has also joined the ten current Partners at Quantum.

Aled Edwards most recently managed the actuarial team within Quantum’s Cardiff office as well as providing technical training for all staff. He boasts more than 17 years of pensions experience. He started his career as an Actuary at Jardine Lloyd Thompson’s Bristol wing, before joining Quantum in 2011. Edwards is also the President of the Welsh Actuarial Society (WAS), which supports actuaries and actuarial students living or working in Wales.

Rapid growth sees Quantum Advisory promote trio of Partners

Amanda Burdge joined Quantum’s team in 2001, as one of the fledgling firm’s first employees. Most recently she was a Principal Investment Consultant with the firm, and with more than a quarter of a century’s experience in the sector, she is responsible for providing investment advice to many of Quantum’s key clients with both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes. Prior to her time with Quantum, Burdge spent two years as a consultant with SBJ Benefit Consultants (now Capita), and three years with Tesco Pension Trustees. She currently sits on the Regulation Committee for the Pensions Management Institute.

Chris Heirene initially worked with Quantum as an IT Consultant with Teamwork Technology Services and then UES for over five years, before finally joining the firm itself in 2011. He is now responsible for Quantum’s IT systems across all of its offices, including the network and core server infrastructure which supports the business. Heirene is heavily involved in utilising IT to improve and build upon the processes in place throughout Quantum.

David Deidun, Partner at Quantum Advisory, said of the promotions, “This is a very exciting time for Quantum. The recent round of promotions fully recognise the hard work and dedication shown by the three, all of whom go above and beyond for the company. I’ve no doubt that Aled, Amanda and Chris will settle into their new roles with ease and look forward to working together to grow Quantum even further.”

The news comes as Rob Davies retires in May, after spending fifteen years as a Partner at Quantum. A qualified actuary, Davies was instrumental in setting up Quantum’s Investment Division, specialising in aiding clients with their investment strategies. He will remain with the company on a part-time consultancy basis, while working with several clients in the Fiduciary Manager area.