Traits of 'Typical' U.S. Executive Spelled Out/based on Survey Responses

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - No one has come up with an easy method for climbing the corporate ladder, but a few generalizations about those on the upper rungs may help people interested in getting there decide if the trip is worth the effort.

A hypothetical ``typical'' American executive is a white male, 51 years of age who grew up in the Midwest, earned at least an undergraduate degree, is married and has children.

This executive is Protestant, politically conservative and a registered Republican.

He makes $215,000 a year, but he earns it by working a 56-hour week, spending 49 work days away from home on business each year and annually taking only 14 days vacation. And he intends to retire early - perhaps due to years of lengthy workweeks. He has been with his current employer for 17 years.

The profile is based on responses to a survey by the big executive recruiting firm Korn-Ferry International and the Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles.

They sent questionnaires to 4,350 senior executives with companies on Fortune magazine's lists of the country's 500 biggest industrial and 500 biggest service corporations. Answers came back from 1,362 people, a 31 percent response rate.

The responses indicated that, old sayings aside, it is not so lonely near the top.

Ninety-four percent of the executives who responded were married and less than 1 percent had never been married. Only 7 percent of those married had been married more than once.

The ``top of (the) corporate ladder is no place for single people,'' Korn-Ferry surmised from its findings.

The senior managers had an average of three children. Five percent reported having no children, while 26 percent had more than four.

More than 90 percent said they grew up in a traditional two-parent home. …