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4 out of 10 CEOs at 500 largest firms from 3 top universities

Women still a fraction of CEOs at big firms


Four out of 10 chief executive officers at South Korea’s 500 largest companies graduated from the nation’s top three universities -- Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University -- and only 1.7 percent of the CEOs were women.

According to a report by corporate data research institute CEO Score, 265 of the 659 CEOs, or 44.6 percent, went to the top three universities, which decreased by 2.5 percentage points from 47.1 percent 10 years ago.

Seoul National University graduates accounted for 22.9 percent, Korea University 12.5 percent and Yonsei University 9.3 percent.

Graduates of universities outside Seoul were 18.8 percent, a 3.5 percent increase from 2012.

Those who went to universities outside Korea were 8 percent, up 0.6 percent compared to a decade before.

The share of graduates from traditionally prestigious high schools such as Kyunggi, Kyungbock and Seoul decreased from 22 percent 10 years ago to 8.3 percent this year, as the generation after the phase-out of high school entrance exams from 1974 to 1981 joined top executive positions.

One out of three CEOs of the 500 largest companies majored in business or economics. Among majors of natural sciences and engineering, chemical engineering majors outnumbered others, followed by mechanical engineering majors.

The percent of CEOs who are family members of the family-owned conglomerates, also referred to as "chaebol," fell 8.3 percentage points since 2012 to now 16.2 percent.

More than half (53.7 percent) of the CEOs had been internally promoted, up 2.6 percentage points from 2012, and three out of 10 were scouted from outside, up 5.6 percentage points.

Women accounted for a mere 1.7 percent of the CEO demographic, 0.7 percentage point more compared to 2012.

Among the female CEOs who kept their positions over the past decade are Cho Sun-hae of Geo-Young Co. and Lee Boo-jin of Hotel Shilla.

The average age of CEOs at the big firms was 59, up 0.8 years from 2012.

Industries with younger average age of CEOs included service (55), retail (55.3), pharmaceuticals (56.2) and telecommunication (56.7).

By region, six out of 10 hailed from Seoul or the Gyeongsang provinces (30.3 percent each), followed by 9.8 percent each from overseas and the Jeolla provinces; 9.2 percent from Chungcheong provinces; 6.1 percent from Gyeonggi province and Incheon; 3.5 percent from Gangwon and 1.2 percent from Jeju.

The share of CEOs who grew up overseas showed the biggest increase of 3.4 percentage points since 2012 to 9.8 percent.


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