What does it take to be a CEO?

Shadowing a CEO for a day is helping undergraduate students to understand the qualities needed for the position, in a scheme run by a UK recruitment firm

Seeta Bhardwa's avatar

Seeta Bhardwa

Student content editor
November 29 2017
CEO for a day


Some 24 UK undergraduate students have taken part in a CEO for a day scheme, which aims to help students understand what it takes to become a CEO. 

The scheme enables students to spend a day with the CEO of a company in order to see first hand what the position involves, the skills and qualities required and what they do on a daily basis. 

Globally, 13 countries are taking part in the scheme, run by Odgers Berndtson, a UK executive recruitment firm. The initiative is now running in the UK for its second year. 

Companies taking part include Domino’s, Getty Images, Sainsbury’s, ASOS and Williams F1.

Estia Ryan, a politics, philosophy and economics student from Durham University, took part in the scheme and said: “I’ve been taken way more seriously than I expected, and that degree of authenticity and humanity is welcome. It kind of works both ways. I’m pleased to see how things work, but there’s also cross fertilisation, we both get something out of it – whether that’s fresh new ideas or seeing the professionalism and experience that comes from being a long time in an industry.”

“I’m still thinking about the next five to 10 years but in terms of leadership skills this has helped me immensely, both in terms of how I develop my ideas and giving me a clearer idea about how a business works and what a CEO actually does.”


Fatima Koumbarji, chair of the education practice at Odgers Berndtson, said: “Students increasingly want more value for their money when they go to university and so there’s now much more focus on producing graduates equipped for their future, which is also important to the success of universities and also those running them.

"CEO for a day is a way for our firm to use our contacts – with leaders at the top of business, government and education – to good effect, helping both universities and students maximise their employability opportunities,” she added.  

Read more: How to secure a place on a graduate scheme 


Illustration of a book

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