Small Business

What’s in a name? The top five names for CEOs

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A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but according to new research, some names may spell sweet success more than others. According to LinkedIn, the trends in names of CEOs in top global companies follow an interesting pattern. The study, compiled by LinkedInsights, a division of LinkedIn, reviewed more than 100 million public profiles from around the world to determine the most ‘over-represented names’ in a specific population or functional area.

According to the study, the top five names for male CEOs globally are:

  1. Peter
  2. Bob
  3. Jack
  4. Bruce
  5. Fred.

And, the top five names for female CEOs globally are:

  1. Deborah
  2. Sally
  3. Debra
  4. Cynthia
  5. Carolyn.

Interestingly, the data showed a correlation between the length of name and the field of expertise. In the US in general, for instance, CEOs tended to have four-letter names such as Jack or Fred.

“It’s no secret that people often associate their title, employer and even their education as part of what defines them and their professional brand,” says LinkedIn senior data scientist Monica Rogati. “What’s interesting about this data is that we were able to discover a correlation between a professional’s name and the industry or functional area in which they work.”

Focusing on the US, LinkedIn found those working in sales tended to have typically short, four-letter names, such as Chip, Todd or Trey, while engineers were likely to have longer names such as Jeremy or Andrew. Meanwhile, those in food or hospitality were more likely to have names of French origin, such as Thierry, Philippe or Laurent.

Dr Frank Nuessel, editor of NAMES: A Journal of Onomastics, says a name is the professional’s brand and this could contribute to the trends across industry.

“Typically hypocorisms, the shorter form of a given name, are used in intimate situations as a nickname or a term of endearment,” he says. “It’s possible that sales professionals in the US and male CEOs around the world use these shortened versions of their name as a way to be more approachable and accessible to potential clients.

“Interestingly enough, female CEOs appear to prefer to use their full names and not nicknames, which could signify that they want to be taken more seriously and want coworkers to think of them in a more professional light,” Dr Nuessel adds.

Founded in 2003, and recently floated on the New York Stock Exchange, LinkedIn currently boasts more than 100 million members (two million of which are in Australia) in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Published on: Friday, May 27, 2011

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