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Steps to Becoming an Executive

The responsibilities of top business executives include planning, directing, and coordinating an organization’s operational activities. Reaching the top of any organizational leadership structure requires intense personal drive and ambition. Still, becoming a top-ranking executive is not impossible, but requires hard work and a passion for leading your organization. Below are steps that will help you achieve advanced positions in the business environment. For more information, discover Manhattan College's online Master's in Business Administration program.

Step 1: Gain Experience

Generally speaking, someone must have a great deal of experience to become a high-ranking executive. The men and women at the head of any organization are tasked with providing vision and a course for the company to navigate, which is difficult to do without extensive real-world experience to draw on. If your resume is thin, your focus should first be on striving for more managerial and leadership roles to gain the experience necessary to get noticed for senior-level jobs later on, and the experience necessary to make sure you succeed in these high-stakes, high-stress roles.

Here are some tips from Forbes that can help you get noticed at work and jump-start your rise through the corporate ranks:

  • Approach each day with “wide-angle vision” as you look for ways to go above and beyond your job description and expand your sphere of influence at work
  • Do your job well, and help your colleagues do theirs
  • Challenge the old ways of doing things with the intention of generating better results

Step 2: Learn from Others

Corporate mentoring programs have long been recognized as an essential strategy for climbing the corporate ladder. According to a survey conducted by Ivy Exec, an online professional network for executives, almost 90 percent of senior executives who have had mentors credit the experience for the positive trajectory of their careers. Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of Ivy Exec, wrote an article for Forbes in which she stated, “Whether it’s to get advice on business strategies or insights from an industry veteran, having an informed mentor can give anyone a career boost.”1

Career advancement expert Amanda Augustine echoes Bajic’s assessment of the value of mentorship and the role it plays in the advancement of one’s career: “Mentors can propel your career in innumerable ways. They can help shape your professional skills, teach you the ins and outs of your industry, help you navigate corporate politics, overcome adversity and introduce you to the right people and resources to advance your career.”2

Step 3: Build Your Network

Having a well-developed professional network is one of the “secrets of success” in the modern business world. Building a trusted community of like-minded business professionals will help you stay ahead of new developments in your field, keep in touch with friends and colleagues who can tell you about new job openings you might be suited for and grow your “sphere of influence” so corporate recruiters can more easily find you.

The Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) offers 12 networking tips to help you make connections and use your network to find your next career move.

Step 4: Earn a Graduate Degree

Unless you plan on starting your own company, your chances of ascending to the top of the corporate ladder can be greatly improved by earning a graduate business degree. Consider this: More than a third of the world’s 500 largest companies are led by an MBA graduate, including half of the top ten most valuable corporations in the world.

A study by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that the majority of business school alumni are in senior-level positions or higher five years after graduation, and 25 percent of alumni hold an executive-level title at 10 years.3

Advance your cross-functional business expertise and grow your leadership capabilities with an online M.B.A. from Manhattan College. Request more information online or call 855-841-2843 to speak with an advisor. Be sure to check out our free guide Why an M.B.A., Why Now? to learn how this graduate business degree can help advance your career and improve your life.


1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/elenabajic/2014/03/19/turbocharge-your-climb-up-the-corporate-ladder/#5ee73a89596a

2 https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/five-types-of-mentors-to-advance-your-career/

3 http://www.gmac.com/market-intelligence-and-research/research-library/admissions-and-application-trends/2015-gmac-market-intelligence-and-research-brochure.aspx