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frenchX
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Quants will never be CEO

August 23rd, 2013, 12:22 pm

I have heard some research recently in management saying that "quants role" (in a general term example big data statistical analyst for a online marketing firm, model val for a risk management group in a investment bank or numerical analyst in a mechanical engineering firm) almost never reach the C level. According to the people who claim that the problems are :-problem to make decision when there is little (or even no) data-problem to communicate complicated expertise in simple way-problem to use interpersonnal skills such as networking, conflict management, negociation, etc...-problem with a very low emotionnal intelligence which means that there is an empathy gap between the employees and the employers-problem to project itself in a vision for the future and to build a "leading story" around this vision to motivate employeesI don't quote the original post because it's mainly undocumented (it was in a response post on a Davenport article about his new book Keeping up with the Quants in HBR).What do you think about that ? PS: I 'm mainly skeptical in these "generalized research". I think that the archetype of quants as a math autist is just a false caricature.
Last edited by frenchX on August 22nd, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Paul
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Quants will never be CEO

August 23rd, 2013, 1:14 pm

There are two sorts of CEO though: Those who rise through the ranks, and those who start their own businesses.P
 
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frenchX
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Quants will never be CEO

August 23rd, 2013, 1:32 pm

Good point. I mean CEO who were middle managers (or below) and climb the promotion ladder to the top leadership position. Obviously when you are an entrepreneur you are your own boss so the story is a bit different.
Last edited by frenchX on August 22nd, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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platinum
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Quants will never be CEO

August 23rd, 2013, 1:34 pm

One of the main issues is that there is generally quite a bit of human drama in companies, whatever the size of the firm. In my experience, people who are extremely cerebral do not have much patience for human drama.They do not want to explain things diplomatically and they do not want to listen to explanations when the matters are of a more emotional or personal nature.The world is not filled with dry facts, elegant formulas, and philosophical abstractions alone.The best companies of any size are run by CEOs who care about their customers and show respect and kindness to their employees.I have met a few people in the quant community who meet those criteria and have been very successful in business.
Last edited by platinum on August 27th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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frolloos
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Quants will never be CEO

August 24th, 2013, 10:43 am

I think it's true that in general afficionados of equations and models do not become CEO. They may become CRO or Chief Investment Officer and in some cases CFO, but the general lack of interest in such things as marketing, sales / business development and HR related stuff among quantitatively minded ppl makes the step to CEO within a large firm not only too big but simply an unattractive prospect to the quant. Within a small tech firm it might be a different story.
 
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LineOfBestFit
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Quants will never be CEO

August 24th, 2013, 1:51 pm

It pains me to agree with this spotty research for all of the points that the others have made, and then some.If you think about it, there is really a huge disconnect between the "three-bullet point" manager types and the analytical teams within the organizations we're talking about. The general-knowledge/sales/marketing types have ZERO understanding or patience for technical matters, and the technical people are too smart to endure the bulls*it-speak of higher-ups who talk in terms of generalized "vision," so in turn they go back into their shells and continue with their projects since they have an extreme allergy to the stuffed shirts who are ultimately responsible for the budgets.What is needed is a class of quants with just enough degree of extroverted traits to be seen as a force in the world of cardboard-cutout "visionaries" but technical and patient enough to go deep with the most "Powder"-like thinking quantitative/analytical people in the organization. People do not know how to react to a person like that, since it doesn't fit into their cubbyhole stereotypes.I think what drives most analyst-types nuts is the fact that you can have some blowhard come into a position of power, having carried his or her career fueled by 30-40 years of perfecting some snake oil tales of "good judgment" and "core beliefs," with absolutely no objective basis on which to base his decisions, and make live-or-die calls on quantitative projects or undertakings that he has absolutely not one thin scrap of understanding.
 
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Cuchulainn
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Quants will never be CEO

August 24th, 2013, 3:14 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: PaulThere are two sorts of CEO though: Those who rise through the ranks, and those who start their own businesses.PIndeed.There was a time that fresh PhDs wanted to buy a garage and become the next Hewlett-Packard. Maybe PhD is not conducive to lateral thinking any more? Is it too rigid?
Last edited by Cuchulainn on August 23rd, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dweeb
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Quants will never be CEO

August 24th, 2013, 11:40 pm

Had some great advice years ago - balance a career between management and technical. It can be applied to every field - finance, mgt science, marketing, info tech, entertainment.This can be seen in the graduate education trends - the rise of specialized Masters and the introspection going on with the traditional MBA.There are many quants, technical types, nerds, propeller heads or whatever who have been extremely successful in C level roles.Having said that, finding someone that understands this balance can be hard - a recruiter talking point - one has to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.
Last edited by dweeb on August 24th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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frenchX
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Quants will never be CEO

August 26th, 2013, 7:21 am

I agree that the balance between hard skills (tech skills, financial skills, marketing skills etc) and soft skills (communication, supervisory, self management, team management) is the best but I think that soft skills can only be learnt by experience. I have no trust in the management skills of a 25 years old who did a MBA right after his master. In my opinion, the best MBA are executive MBA for people who have at least 15 years of work experience and who wants to move from a middle or functionnal manager position to leardership ones. In my opinion having less than 5 years of experience in management and targeting a leadership position is just too ambitious. It's the same than a 23 year old consultant explaining strategy to a 55 years old CEO ...I can't remember the number of young engineers and other quant guys making an MBA right after their study and then applying directly to "I'm a the boss" job. Hard skills can be learnt in school while soft skills are mainly learnt by day to day experience.
Last edited by frenchX on August 25th, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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HOOK
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Quants will never be CEO

August 29th, 2013, 1:57 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: CuchulainnQuoteOriginally posted by: PaulThere are two sorts of CEO though: Those who rise through the ranks, and those who start their own businesses.PIndeed.There was a time that fresh PhDs wanted to buy a garage and become the next Hewlett-Packard. Maybe PhD is not conducive to lateral thinking any more? Is it too rigid?In economics, a PhD thesis nowadays resumes to two or three (superficial) essays. The demand for novelty/originality in a thesis seem to be disapearing.It´s very hard to challege the main stream.
 
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ChicagoGuy
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Quants will never be CEO

August 30th, 2013, 12:03 am

Most quants don't want to be a CEO (of a top corp). Even most people don't want to be a CEO. It's way too much work.In fact, I don't think most quants/people want to be managers because managing people is hard.
 
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frenchX
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Quants will never be CEO

August 30th, 2013, 7:28 am

The worst thing which can happen to a quant guy is being micromanaged by a guy without any analytical skills.Concerning "quants" who want to be CEO, it seems that the best way to become a CEO is to become CFO first (according to some statistical studies). When you are CTO (id est R&D boss) you are almost dead for a CEO position according to the same study.
 
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dweeb
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Quants will never be CEO

September 2nd, 2013, 11:18 am

QuoteOriginally posted by: frenchXI have heard some research recently in management saying that "quants role" (in a general term example big data statistical analyst for a online marketing firm, model val for a risk management group in a investment bank or numerical analyst in a mechanical engineering firm) almost never reach the C level. According to the people who claim that the problems are :-problem to make decision when there is little (or even no) data-problem to communicate complicated expertise in simple way-problem to use interpersonnal skills such as networking, conflict management, negociation, etc...-problem with a very low emotionnal intelligence which means that there is an empathy gap between the employees and the employers-problem to project itself in a vision for the future and to build a "leading story" around this vision to motivate employees.These are big generalizations. Many people have made it to CEO roles, either within firms or through starting their own firms, from technical backgrounds A question is whether the increasingly analytical/technical trends in finance, business etc will require C suite types that understand the issues, the limitations, and how to manage it.QuoteOriginally posted by: frenchXThe worst thing which can happen to a quant guy is being micromanaged by a guy without any analytical skills.Concerning "quants" who want to be CEO, it seems that the best way to become a CEO is to become CFO first (according to some statistical studies). When you are CTO (id est R&D boss) you are almost dead for a CEO position according to the same study.CFOs often make it to CEO as they understand the governance and financial management aspects of running a firm. Quants and technical types sometimes trash the qualitative/soft side of business, MBA course work etc, but it's an essential skill set in running a business.
Last edited by dweeb on September 1st, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Gamal
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Quants will never be CEO

September 2nd, 2013, 1:18 pm

That's bad. Trading becomes more and more quantitative and there should be someone in the board who understands at least in rough what is the business about. A board of a car manufacturer consisting only of salesmen, without a single engineer, is tough to imagine, isn't it?
 
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Cuchulainn
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Quants will never be CEO

September 2nd, 2013, 1:19 pm

QuoteOriginally posted by: GamalThat's bad. Trading becomes more and more quantitative and there should be someone in the board who understands at least in rough what is the business about. A board of a car manufacturer consisting only of salesmen, without a single engineer, is tough to imagine, isn't it?Even worse, is a second-hand car salesman. But the difference is; he knows he sells rubbish.
Last edited by Cuchulainn on September 1st, 2013, 10:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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