‘Resourceful, Entrepreneurial’: The Anatomy of the Latin American CEO

Adecco describes the profile of the Latin American CEO as “an extremely resourceful professional,” given that market conditions are very different in the region compared to more developed countries

LatAm's Top CEOs.
July 20, 2023 | 03:00 AM

Bogotá — Bloomberg Línea on Thursday published its list of the Top CEOs with the best performance of large, listed companies in Latin America. To do so, it looked at eight markets, only those CEOs with at least one year in the role, and almost 100 hundred companies and reams of data from the Bloomberg Terminal.


One of the main concerns that arose when applying this methodology is that there are no female CEOs in the sample, and despite the fact that in almost all the companies there are women on the boards of directors, on none of them do women exceed 50% of the headcount.

The executive director of the LHH Recruitment Solutions division at Adecco, Andrés Alvarado, tells Bloomberg Línea that the profile of the CEO in Latin America is very broad, given the reality of each country and the fact that in each of these markets there is a universe of professionals with a number of characteristics.

According to studies by the human resources firm and interviews with a number of business leaders, 80% or more of the CEOs in the region have a postgraduate degree, such as a specialization or a master’s degree.


Meanwhile, the remaining 20% are undergraduate professionals, and many are entrepreneurs who never finished their studies.

In fact, in general, the CEO of medium and small companies is an entrepreneur.

Anatomy of Latin American CEOdfd

CEOs’ salaries

Regarding salaries, Adecco points out that these can be around $5,000 per month in a medium and small company, and up to $50,000 per month in large multinationals, which may have regional responsibility, or a multi-country company.


According to Adecco, a quarter of these professionals have been promoted through sales or marketing lines, mainly because of their skills, dynamism, contacts and sales capacity.

Meanwhile, reports from the executive recruitment and selection division of Page Executive Colombia indicate that the fixed and variable portions of the compensation package depend largely on the company’s turnover ranges and the size of the total headcount of which the CEO is in charge.

On average, CEOs have a minimum monthly salary of $10,000 and an annual variable portion that ranges between 25 and 35 percentage points of their annual base salary.

These compensation packages usually include flexible work policies, 100% of their private health insurance, company car, long-term incentive programs (stock options, etc.), life insurance, social club membership, among other benefits.

Why Are There No Female CEOs Leading Large Latin American Companies?

How do Latin American CEOs differ?

Gustavo Moreno, senior associate at Page Executive Colombia, told Bloomberg Línea that CEOs in Latin America have a very high vocation for academic traniing and technical foundation for the exercise of their functions in a corporation.

“While it is true that it is not convenient to generalize and that these considerations may vary widely depending on the industry and types of business, among other factors, it is important to highlight that a significant portion of CEOs have undergraduate studies related to the industry in which they work, and master’s degrees (several of them with MBAs or similar subjects), with extensive leadership experience and professional performance in different countries and cultures,” he said.

He added that this last aspect is particularly relevant because, given the context of globalization, the ability to strategically manage different markets, types of people and portfolios of products and/or services is highly appreciated by employers.


“Their leadership profile is characterized by a high strategic capacity, adaptability, resourcefulness and something that the pandemic has left us with, the ability to lead focused on human beings, that is, employees,” Adecco’s Alvarado said, adding that the wave of startups in Latin America has brought with it a boom of entrepreneurial CEOs with a global outlook.

He also emphasizes that, although normally the largest Latin American companies are engaged in industries that are very focused on commodities and services, and not so much in the industrial or innovation side, today a paradigm shift is being seen.

“We see that with all this growth, the global vision of the Latin American stands out with the desire to reach markets never explored before, identifying local and global needs,” Alvarado said.

CEOs’ cultural factions

Meanwhile, human resources experts at Page Executive believe that CEOs in Latin America are differentiated from those in other regions by cultural factors that “circumscribe their actions within a specific framework and with their own style of relationships”.


“In spite of the drastic differences that exist between the different countries that make up the region, it can be stated in general terms that Latin America is a geographical area characterized by the affable treatment of its inhabitants and the warmth of its culture.”

“In addition, it is should be highlighted that, due to historical reasons, several Latin American countries have gone through challenging socioeconomic circumstances, which has forged a resilient, bold, resourceful, innovative and achievement-oriented society, whereby companies are forged with the same entrepreneurial and resilient spirit of the society in which they put into practice the exercise of their corporate purpose,” according to Page Executive.

Experts at Adecco meanwhile summarize CEOs in the region as “extremely resourceful professionals”, since market conditions are very different in this region compared to in more developed countries.


“The Latin American CEO has a great facility for entrepreneurship and creation. For example, in Latin America, labor informality forces the need to create products for the base of the pyramid, which has shown the birth of very large companies in the region”.

Anatomy of Latin American CEOs, according to Bloomberg Línea:

Sex*: male

Average age*: 55.9 years


Average time as CEO*: 8.9 years

On the board of directors*: 45%

Education of the top CEOs**: MBA from Harvard Business School, Stanford University, Kellog School of Management


In the post as an inheritance**: only 2 of the 15 top CEOs are relatives of the founders

Sectors in which the top CEOs operate**: 4 in finance, 4 in retail, 3 in energy, 2 in logistics, 2 in technology

*Bloomberg Línea evaluated 87 large, listed Latin American and Caribbean companies. **These data refer to 15 CEOs with more than one year in the role and with high total annual returns, according to the Bloomberg Terminal.

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