Ex-Military CEOs Shine

July 24, 2006
They're better able to translate vision into results, study suggests.

Military experience parlays into better business performance, according to a recent study by Korn/Ferry International, a Los Angeles-based executive search firm.

The study, "Military Experience & CEOs: Is There a Link?" found that firms led by CEOs with a military background outperformed the S&P 500 Index by as much as 20%. Another interesting finding is that CEOs with military experience tend to last longer on the job. Civilian CEOs had an average tenure of 4.6 years, while CEOs with military experience had an average tenure of 7.2 years.

In terms of shareholder return, 59 companies on the S&P 500 headed by CEOs with military experience provided an average annual return of 21.3% over a three-year period, compared with only an 11% return from the S&P 500 Index.

"There are clearly certain traits [ex-military] CEOs possess that drive their approaches to leadership, communication and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to translate company vision into tangible results," says Joe Griesedieck, vice chairman of Korn/Ferry.

The study, which was published in cooperation with Economic Intelligence Unit, the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist, was conducted using publicly available information on the CEOs of all S&P 500 companies. In-depth interviews also were performed to find out details of military service.

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