Top chief executives help UK undergraduates to become a CEO for a day

Twenty leaders of top organisations are making a personal commitment to share a working day with an undergraduate student. This one-on-one experience is part of an Odgers Berndtson scheme enabling young people to see for themselves what business and leadership is really like.

The 2018/19 star CEO line-up includes Sainsbury’s, FT, Royal Mint, Barnardo’s and Visa. It’s all happening as a 2017 student winner returns to Kier Group in a permanent job.

International opportunities

Across the international Odgers Berndtson network, the CEOx1DAY initiative has so far involved over 400 CEOs across 13 countries, with Singapore and Turkey joining this year, attracting almost 20,000 student applications.

The expansion of CEO for a Day across Odgers Berndtson’s global network comes as business leaders become increasingly focused on the impacts of disruption and technological change. In a recent study of CEOs across APAC, Odgers Berndtson found many CEOs are concerned that their senior executives may lack the qualities to address the challenges their businesses now face.  There is also a widely-held view that younger generations of leaders may have very different characteristics.

Life-changing experiences

“Disruption and generational change are big issues for all senior leaders and CEO for a Day gives them a chance to engage directly and in a very personal way, whilst at the same time doing something of immense value to a young person starting out,” said Kester Scrope, Chief Executive of Odgers Berndtson. “For many of those involved, the experience can be life-changing.”

A student winner from last year, Vikesh Mistry, who graduated in Business Entrepreneurship & Innovation from De Montfort University, was paired with Haydn Mursell, CEO of Kier Group. He has now joined Kier’s graduate marketing programme in 2018. “The experience has been great for my professional development” explained Vikesh. 

Connecting business with the next generation

“The feedback we have from students is almost always to the effect that taking part in CEO for a Day is a fantastic preparation for entering the workplace,” said Mark Freebairn, who leads the initiative for Odgers Berndtson in the UK.

“We want to use our relationships with business leaders to help them personally do something to help the next generation and, at the same time, foster trust and enthusiasm about what business can do with young people.”

Undergraduates at all UK universities are eligible to apply for CEO for a Day, with applications open online at link. A process of assessment and selection, similar to a job interview process, will follow in early 2019, after which successful students will be paired for a day with the participating Chief Executives.

Find out more about CEOx1Day

Find out how to apply