How to Become an Executive Director of a Large Company


During the year, no more than 20% of executives change in the largest companies, but the number of professional candidates for these places is only growing. 

Each person, sooner or later, feels the desire to move to a leadership position. They begin to wonder “How to become the executive director of the company?” Should I count on this position in my firm or look for a new one? The answers to these questions are complicated and simple at the same time. But in any case, the first and foremost advice: no matter how high you rate your level of competencies and ambitions, start to learn more. 

Get an Education

Do you have a chance to be an executive without a bachelor’s or master’s diploma? There is always a chance! But…

The MBA diploma of the world’s leading business schools and professional certificates for functional managers (ACCA, CFA) do not play a significant role in the competition for the position of CEO or their direct subordinates CEO-1. But in order to be among the applicants for these jobs, you need experience in lower positions, for example, as the head of a department. And for lower vacancies, the MBA diploma of the top business school will be an essential requirement. 

So, if you want to become an executive in the near 3-5 years, make sure that you have a prestigious business education. 

Create the Perfect Resume

Remember that without a resume, you will not go far. All your gained experience in small and international companies, professional qualifications, soft and hard skills, awards, and accomplishments should be logically written into one document. This paper is your “reflection,” which displays your entire career and growth. 

Many people still do not underestimate the power of a resume. However, this is the only factor that affects the invitation to an interview. If you do not know how to create this document, it is best to hire a resume writing expert. Executive resume writing service cost may surprise you, but it’s worth it. You should not save on your career, especially since the executive’s salary will cover these expenses already in the first month. 

Growing Your Professional Qualifications

To take the highest position in the company, it is not enough to have “extensive managerial experience, experience in optimizing business processes, or high communication skills.” Or, as many mistakenly believe, the supervisor’s most outstanding quality is “leadership abilities.” For the high-level workplace, each applicant should have these requirements by default. 

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The potential candidate must have the clear qualifications required by the position. If an applicant for a CEO job can prepare a business for sale, managing an international transaction, restructure a bad-debt portfolio, prepare a company for an IPO or increase the operational efficiency, this will give him / her an advantage over other competitors. 

Build Your Career Path

If a professional has consistently developed and moved from one organization to another every 3–4 years without lowering the level of the position or size of the company, then he / she is likely to get a leading position in a leading organization. Big business also appreciates international experience, especially in the Europe and Asia markets. 

Having serious ambitions, you should take care of your career ladder. Gather positive recommendations from each place of work, and always do the job on 100%. In due time, this will play a key role. 

Experience in a Large Company

In a large business, experience in leading companies is essential. The applicant for the position of the financial director in the largest company that works in a second-tier firm will always look weaker than a competitor from a national scale corporation. 

Moving according to this scenario, you should build your career ladder seeking places only in large businesses. It will 100% provide you an executive position in a second-tier corporation and will give a high chance to take the same role in your dream company. 

Experience in the largest businesses is also crucial because they increasingly prefer to raise internal candidates. For example, in 2018, more than 65% of the CEOs were assigned to this role from the inside. Showing excellent results in a lower position, you have a chance to “grow” to the executive.  

Choose Companies with the Best Reputation

Experience in the best international companies in the consumer sector, consulting organizations, or investment banks serves as an excellent professional school for life and is highly valued in large businesses. A note in the resume of work experience in the famous bankruptcies companies or troubled banks can adversely affect your future professional career.  

Take the time to learn the company before you get hired. Their infamous reputation can negatively affect yours. You can search the Internet to know in advance the list of companies you should not send a resume. However, trust only trusted resources like Business Insider, Glassdoor, The Economist, Forbes, and so on. 

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Industry Experience

Many believe that functional executives (CFOs, HR, and legal directors) are easy to move between industries. However, among the largest companies, more than 70% of top executives remain within the same industry.  

Cross-industrial transitions are possible, but with a keen interest in a particular industry, you should start developing a career in it as soon as possible. 

Develop a Network of Business Contacts

Business contacts are a significant source of opportunity that is often undervalued. According to statistics, almost half of CEO job offers are received through acquaintances: former colleagues, managers, classmates, fellow students at a university or MBA programs, etc. Creating the right network of contacts among the leaders of the largest companies is easier when working in such companies. 

Each Step Should Bring You Closer to Your Goal

The executive position in a regional holding or a niche company may be more exciting and advantageous in terms of freedom of action or financial compensation. But if you want to become the CEO of a large company, you should leave these advantages. Remember that working with small organizations will never advance you towards this goal. 

We can say the same about an entrepreneurial experience. It is useful for self-development, broadens your mind, and trains operational skills. However, leading companies prefer to hire professionals from a large corporate structure, for example, from a competing business or a big player in another industry.  


It would help if you did not generalize the principles of career planning for top executives and professionals with narrow qualifications. New products and innovative solutions are often created in small companies by talented professionals who are not interested in working in large businesses. For them, the selection criteria will look different. But if you have the goal of becoming the CEO of a large company, follow it. Build an effective career plan and complete it step by step. Only this way can you achieve the goal after 4-5 years of hard work. 

About the Author

Donna (Lever)

  • Bachelor of Arts in Human Resources Management.
  • She creates well-qualified packages: executive resume writing service and development of the LinkedIn profile. She’s worked closely with directors and hiring managers identifying specific hiring needs.
  • Has strong knowledge in employment law, benefits, and compensation, organizational planning and prioritizing, employee relations, safety and training, and development. She continuously maintained an understanding of the industries and skill sets served, including trends and new developments.
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