How to become a managing director?
The answer to this question can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The simple answer is that to become a managing director you must amass a vast wealth of experience in every business domain, be an overachiever and a leader of people.
The longer answer is that professionals gunning for an MD role must carefully assess their strengths and weaknesses and tailor their careers to increase their chances of eventually reaching a managing director’s role. All this effort will still not guarantee that an employee will reach that position, but it certainly means that the candidate can improve his or her chances.
Another thing to note is that there are companies of different sizes and they have different experience level requirements for MDs. So many professionals end up moving from bigger to smaller companies or even start-ups just to secure that coveted MD title.
Either way, here are some basic tips to help you along your journey to becoming a managing director:
Get as much valuable experience as you can – Managing director positions require 15 to 30 years of work experience in most cases. What this means is that no matter how hard someone tries, it will still require several years or even decades of experience to get within striking distance of the managing director’s post. There is no substitute for experience.
Make your experience as broad as possible – Managing directors handle the overall business operations of the company and are responsible for managing everything from finance to HR to sales and everything in between. Getting valuable experience in all these fields is necessary. Most managing directors and CEOs, however, are usually professionals from the sales department who have experience in generating direct revenue for the company. Such considerations can be worth noting while charting your career path.
Enhance your personal brand – Managing directors are the public face of the company and aspirational role models for company employees. Creating a strong personal brand is necessary to get recognition, and that will have a positive influence when being considered for the managing director’s post. This means participating in well-known projects and working with identifiable and reputable brands. It is for this reason that a lot of executives work with multilateral international organisations or do a stint with some well-known brands. Actual performance is just as important as simple association with a brand though.
Have a lot of references – For more senior roles, references become more important than academic qualifications or what is on your CV. If someone is being considered for a managing director’s position, it is very likely that the decision-makers already know a lot about the person from references which can include former bosses, employees, colleagues, clients and so on. Having a squeaky-clean track record is therefore of paramount importance along with a good reputation for being competent, diligent, easy to work with and a team player.
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