Top Executives

Last updated January 01, 2015

What does it take to reach the top? Carly Fiorina knows. She is the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard Company. Fiorina majored in medieval history and philosophy in college. She tried law school but hated it. Instead, she went into business and quickly became a rising star.

As Hewlett-Packard's CEO, she helped the company merge with another computer company, Compaq. Many people see this as the most successful high-tech merger in history -- and they see Fiorina as one of the brightest lights in the business world.

Top executives run businesses and other organizations. Combining knowledge of the field with business skills, they attempt to lead their organizations to success.

“I like seeing people do things they didn't think they could. Seeing people be successful, which leads to the company's success, is probably the most fun.”Bob, Company President

Are You Ready To...?

  • Decide on an organization’s philosophy and set a course for the future
  • Make decisions about what to sell and whom to sell to
  • Research the market
  • Crunch numbers
  • Attend meetings
  • Make speeches
  • Work long hours including evenings and weekends
  • Travel a lot
  • Transfer jobs several times as you climb the ladder

It Helps To Be...

Able to quickly absorb and analyze large amounts of information. Excellent leadership and communication skills will help you motivate others to follow your vision for the company. You'll also rely on your ability to know when to be flexible and when to be decisive.

Make High School Count

  • Intern with or work for businesses. Learn all you can about how each department is run. Ask if the top executives would spend a few minutes talking with you about their careers.
  • Take on leadership roles in student government, school clubs, and other groups.
  • Start your own business. Whether you sell cookies or design websites, you'll learn a lot about running a company.
  • Study a foreign language -- business is becoming more global every day.
  • Sign up for business, accounting, economics, and computer classes.

Did You Know?

Many top executives travel extensively.