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How to reach the top of the corporate ladder

Cassandra Frangos’, DMSB’98, recently published book, Crack the C-Suite Code, uses her nearly two decades of experience as an executive coach for world-class corporations to explain how young people can find their own success in the corporate world.


April 16, 2018

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Cassandra Frangos, DMSB’98, believes one of the most important qualities job applicants who are in pursuit of CEO titles is the ability to work cooperatively with peers. In her recently published book, Crack the C-Suite Code, Frangos offers advice and concrete steps to reach corporate success for readers.

“As companies take more risks with younger executives, it’s increasingly important for them to work effectively with a team that rounds out their skills,” said Frangos. “If you’re a visionary, you need someone who is execution-oriented to always be playing devil’s advocate. There is more interdependence in the C-suite.”

Crack the C-Suite Code, is based on Frangos’ research with 350 C-suite candidates and her two decades of experience coaching top executives at companies such as Cisco and Spencer Stuart. She identified four broad paths to CEO:

  • Tenure track: executives rise patiently and persistently through the corporate hierarchy, absorbing the culture, developing expertise, and gathering followers.
  • Free agents: are recruited from outside the company often because the company is looking for a fresh perspective and new ideas.
  • Leapfrog executives: jump several steps to land the CEO position, passing over their bosses based on vision, leadership, and potential to lead the company in a rapidly changing world.
  • Founders: are courageous souls who give up their lucrative corporate jobs to lead new companies of their own inventions.

Frangos initially came to Northeastern University to become a psychologist, but ended up with a dual degree in business and psychology. She has found that the most common accelerators for aspiring CEOs are emotional intelligence, followership and vulnerability.

“I was always running across campus between classes because the two departments were at opposite ends of the campus,” she recalled. “At the time, these two fields were polar opposites, but I knew there was a strong connection.”

Her top takeaway for future CEOs? “Teamwork is key. Loners rarely reach the C-suite.”