Unbreakable glass ceiling? Zero female CEOs in Hong Kong, study shows

Hong Kong CEOs tend to be male, approximately 54 years old, and graduates of an overseas university, according to new analysis which also shows there are no females among top Hong Kong CEOs.

According to a QlikView application, globally, women represent around 10% of all board-level positions worldwide even though they make up over 40% of the global work force.

The QlikView application reveals a starker statistic: only 3.2% of the 250 CEOs measured are female, with Hong Kong recording zero female CEOs. Despite efforts to increase gender diversity in the boardroom, change is slow.

These are just some of the key insights that can be discovered in the new interactive application called "Where Do APAC CEOs Come From" built using the QlikView Business Discovery platform.

Looking at the top 250 Asia Pacific-based companies listed in the 2013 Forbes Global 2000 ranking, the application pulled together information collected about the CEOs from these organizations. These include gender, age, universities, industries, and previous positions.

Phillip Beniac, Regional Vice President for Qlik Asia Pacific and Japan, said, “What this QlikView application provides is a holistic view of what it takes to be a CEO in Asia Pacific. It is a fun way to gain insights into the ‘key ingredients’ that go into a making of a CEO. At the same time, it helps us drill deeper and ask important questions. For example, where are we in terms of gender diversity in the boardroom and where should one pursue an education to stand a fighting chance of becoming a CEO?”


Education and career experience – key findings

Unlike a typical CEO in other Asia Pacific markets, Hong Kong CEOs are more likely to have graduated from an overseas university (82.4%) than from a local institution (17.6%).

In comparison, 36.7% of Asia Pacific CEOs received a degree from an overseas university. Among academic destinations, the United States claimed the top spot (30%) and Harvard ranking as the number one choice for overseas universities followed by the University of Pennsylvania, University of San Francisco, and INSEAD.

The leading local universities were Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the University of Hong Kong.

Business was the most popular academic major. In addition, 30% of local CEOs took an MBA, which is higher than the Asia Pacific average (23%).

The majority of CEOs in Hong Kong have been CEOs for less than five years (60%) and were not previously CEOs (12.5%). They are also likely to hail from the property (25%) and business services (20%) industries.

Anatomy of a CEO in Hong Kong – key findings

· There are no female CEOs in Hong Kong– in contrast to India, Singapore and China in which 8%, 5% and 2% of their CEOs are female respectively.

· The average age of a CEO in Hong Kong is 54, with one CEO in power for over 35 years.

· Hong Kong’s youngest and oldest CEO is 33 and 84 years old, a 51-year age difference.

· 82% of CEOs in Hong Kong graduated from an overseas university. United States is the most popular destination for studies (30%), followed by the UK (12.5%), France (5%), Australia (5%) and Canada (5%).    

·70% of CEOs in Hong Kong have less than 10 years of experience as CEOs.

·30% of CEOs in Hong Kong have a MBA.  

· The most studied discipline among CEOs in Hong Kong is business (25%), followed by law (12.5%), economics (5%) and business administration (5%).

· 25% of CEOs in Hong Kong are from the property industry, followed by business services (20%), financial services (12.5%), and energy sector (12.5%). In comparison, CEOs in China are mainly from the finance (28.6%), manufacturing (22.4%) and energy (18.3%) sectors.