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Average Age for C-Suite Member Is 56

The average age for a C-suite member is 56 and the average tenure is 4.9 years. However, the numbers vary depending on title and industry.

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This is according to an analysis of members of the C-suite at the top 1,000 United States organizations by Korn Ferry. The study examines the age and tenure of individuals holding C-suite titles (CEO, CFO, CHRO, CMO, CIO/CTO), and is also broken down by industry — consumer, energy, financial services, industrials, healthcare and technology.

CEO – Oldest and Longest-Tenured

The average age for a CEO across industries is 59. CEOs are the oldest on average of any other C-suite role.

The financial services industry has the oldest average CEO age at 60, and the technology and energy sectors have the youngest CEOs at an average age of 57.

At an average of 6.9 years, CEO tenure is the longest in the C-suite. Interestingly, the current tenure is down from an average of eight years when Korn Ferry conducted the same analysis in 2016.

In terms of industries, CEOs in financial services have the longest average tenure at 8.4 years (down from 9.7 years in the 2016 analysis), and those in energy and industrial sectors have the shortest tenure at 6.5 years.

CFO – Ties for Youngest in the C-suite

The average age for CFOs at the top 1,000 U.S. companies by revenue is 54, which ties for the youngest role in the C-suite.

There isn’t much variance in the age of CFOs among industries, with an average age of 54 for all analyzed industries except the energy industry at an average age of 53.

As for tenure, behind the CEO, the CFO is the longest-tenured C-suite member at an average of 4.7 years. The longest-tenured CFOs are in the industrial sector at an average of five years, and the shortest-tenured CFOs are in the technology sector at an average of 4.1 years.

“We’re finding that a contributing factor to the longer tenure of CFOs are Boards, which are taking the time to create robust succession management processes to ensure chosen candidates are a good fit, and therefore stay longer,” said Barry Toren, senior client partner, Korn Ferry CFO Practice.

CIO – From Youngest in C-Suite in 2016 to Tying for Second Oldest Today

The average age for CIOs across all industries is 55, which ties as being the oldest in the C-suite, behind CEOs. That’s four years older than in 2016, when a Korn Ferry analysis found the average CIO age was 51. The oldest CIOs are in the healthcare industry at an average age of 57, and the youngest average CIO age can be found in the consumer and technology industries at 54.

The average tenure for the CIO is 4.6 years, which closely aligns with the 2016 figures. CIOs in the energy sector have the longest average tenure at 5.3 years. The shortest-tenured CIOs are in the healthcare sector at an average of 3.9 years.

CMO – Shortest-Tenured in C-Suite

The average CMO age is 54, which ties for youngest in the C-suite in this analysis and compares with an average age of 52 in the 2016 analysis. CMOs in the industrial sector are the oldest with an average age of 55. The youngest average age of CMOs is 52 in the consumer sector.

The average tenure of a CMO is the lowest of all C-suite titles, at an average of 3.5 years, down from the 2016 analysis, where the average tenure was 4.1 years. The longest average CMO tenure is in the industrial sector at 4.0 years, and technology industry CMOs have the shortest tenure at 3.0 years.

CHRO – Among the Oldest

Behind the CEO, the CHRO ties for the oldest C-suite member at an average age of 55, which is the same as the 2016 analysis. There is little variance in age among industries, with the consumer industry having an average age of 54, and the rest of the analyzed industries having an average CHRO age of 55.

The average tenure for a CHRO across industries is 3.7 years, which is down from five years in the 2016 Korn Ferry analysis. The financial industry has the longest-tenured CHRO average at 4.3 years and the healthcare sector has the youngest-tenured CHRO at three years.

“The CHRO is a confidant to the CEO and deals with a lot of privileged information. Usually when a CEO goes, the new CEO wants their own person in that role,” said Daniel A. Kaplan, senior partner, Korn Ferry HR Officers Practice. “Boards can work to increase tenure by enhancing efforts to put in place talent-oriented CHROs steeped in strategy, business fundamentals and culture. Lastly, as more private equity funds begin to invest in HR at their portfolio companies, it’s creating even more turnover. We expect to see continued churn in the CHRO ranks.”


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