The average age of a CEO across all sectors is 59. Executive directors are, on average, the oldest of any other senior management position. The financial services sector is the oldest. The first type is usually a gray-haired company veteran with 20 or 30 years of experience. They usually don't want the stress of an operational function, but they know enough about the company and have enough credibility to help the CEO reflect on problems.
Second, unless you can personally find some unique way to turn a strategic role into a better operational role, never give up an operational role if you intend to stay with the company for a long time. The best thing a strategy director can do is to serve as a sounding board for the strategy discussions that are taking place, facilitate discussions, or analyze discrete areas for the CEO or the board of directors. If you work in the operations area and have the opportunity to hold the position of chief of staff of the chief of staff of the chief of staff of the financial director or director of operations, it's not a bad idea, as long as you are at a relatively early stage in your career. When I spoke with Luis before he made this decision, I expressed deep concern about the enormous limitations of the position of chief strategy officer.
First, a chief strategy officer, assuming he is fortunate enough to dedicate himself to corporate strategy, must be able to influence the operating units and the management committee. This is quite difficult to do because the operating units are not accountable to the strategy director and are therefore likely to ignore him. This article is based on my own experiences when I left as a partner and on those of many colleagues who left as director or partner and took on roles as chief strategy officer or head of corporate strategy and planning. Therefore, a great chief strategy officer will recommend a strategy that generates economic value and, at the same time, takes into account the personalities of the top executives.
The crucial point is that unless the chief strategy officer is part of the board or can influence the CEO, he will not be able to recommend these types of tactics. Luis thought that if his position was chief strategy officer, it was reasonable to assume that his priorities would reflect those of the company. As he talked about the changes taking place in the company and about the company's priorities and problems, he assumed that the company's priorities would reflect those of the chief strategy officer. It is possible that the chief strategy officer can gain additional insight, but that will not change the executive's opinion, since resistance to change is not due to the validity of the response.
The question of fairness also explains why external companies, such as BCG, are always in charge of corporate strategy, even with the presence of a chief strategy officer. They were looking for him to fill the position of chief strategy officer in a diversified and rapidly growing European conglomerate.