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The Construction Connection - California Contractor News, Notes & Legislation

CEO Breeding Grounds

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When thinking of CEO breeding grounds, the mind may go to investment firms like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs or Ivy League institutions like Harvard or Princeton. But before their careers started and prior to earning their prestigious titles, they each came from a hometown that was likely similar to the one you grew up in. 

At Surety First, we’re all about empowering local heroes. That got us thinking—which states are producing the most individuals that rise to the top of the ladder? To answer that question, we set out to find the birthplace of several hundred major U.S. company leaders. We then analyzed our findings to uncover what states and countries produce the most American CEOs. Read on to see what we found. 


Our research took place in March 2022. We looked at the 700 largest U.S.-based companies in terms of market cap with the goal of finding out which locations around the world are birthplace hotbeds for their executives. It’s important to note that this analysis accounts for only current, active CEOs at the time the data was gathered. 

The initial list of companies came from a combination of the S&P 500 plus the following 200 largest U.S. stocks. From there we turned to sources such as the company’s website or articles written about the CEOs to record their birthplace. Companies whose CEO’s birthplaces were not publicly available were omitted from the dataset. In all, we rounded up 300 CEO birthplaces and mapped them out to show where most C-suite executives hail from.

Worldwide CEO Hotbeds of U.S.-based Companies

A world and U.S. map showing the countries and states home to the most CEOs

Our research shows that CEOs of the United States’ largest companies originate from not only all corners of the country, but all around the globe! While it makes sense that the United States leads the world in CEOs of U.S. companies, there are a few international countries that have produced numerous American business leaders. 

India has produced 23 CEOs of U.S. companies, including some big names like Twitter, Microsoft, Adobe, Match Group, and more. France and Iran follow, each producing six CEOs from a variety of industries. In total, the 300 CEOs we analyzed represent 40 different countries around the world. 

Zooming in to only American-born CEOs, the group of leaders comes from 41 unique states. 14 U.S. states can boast that they’ve produced five or more current CEOs. New York, however, gets the ultimate bragging rights of leading the nation in this category with 28 executives coming from the Empire State. 

On the opposing coast, California has produced 21 CEOs, making it to be the second-largest CEO hotspot in the country. But America’s business leaders come from more than just highly populated states. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan are responsible for a combined 37 CEOs. On average, each U.S. state has produced roughly 4.7 current American executives. 

Women in Power

A U.S. map and icon showing the top birthplaces of female CEOs

Next, we were curious to see if isolating female CEOs made a difference in executive hotbeds around the world. Spoiler alert, it does. 

All 28 of New York’s CEOs are men, meaning the previously ranked #1 hotspot now does not even appear on this list. A state a bit further west, Michigan, instead leads the nation with four female CEOs (General Motors, Walgreen, KeyCorp, and Pacific Gas & Electric). Massachusetts is home to the second most women in power, including the CEOs of Clorox, CVS, and Anthem.

Outside of the U.S., India still leads all other countries with the most women CEOs of American companies, though just 13%, or 3 of their 23 total CEOs, are women. England is home to the second most, having produced two women CEOs that lead some of America’s largest companies. 

CEO Breeding Grounds by Industry

A chart showing the most common industries of CEOs by gender and birthplace

Our final analysis focuses on the specific industries U.S. CEOs work in. When looking at women CEOs specifically, the top sector is information technology with five female leaders. Financials and consumer staples are next with women executives leading four companies in each sector. Health care and industrials follow closely with 3 women CEOs each.

By region, there are a few interesting trends worth noting. The Midwest and Northeast are both statistically most likely to produce leaders in the financial industry (such as Nasdaq, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and others). Meanwhile, the South produces the most consumer discretionary CEOs (like AutoZone, Domino’s, and Carnival) while the West is a breeding ground for information technology leaders (including salesforce, Autodesk, and Ubiquiti), no doubt because it is home to Silicon Valley. 

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, this data goes to show that no matter where you’re from, you have the power to become a CEO of a major U.S. corporation. Hard work and determination will get you further than your wildest dreams. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the next future CEO to put your state on the map! 

And even if you’re not an S&P 500 CEO, we recognize that being a leader in your community is still hard work. If you run a contracting business, you can count on Surety First to help build your business through effective risk management. Learn more about our contract bonds today. 

About the Author:

Shortly after graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelors degree in economics, Jeremy founded Surety First Insurance Services (formerly Schaedler Insurance), a Northern California based insurance agency specializing in surety bonds for California construction professionals. Jeremy is happily married and the proud father of two young boys. In his free time, he enjoys camping, fishing and shooting the breeze with friends and family.


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