Top CEO Names across the globe: Brad, Bland or Brand?

April 27, 2011

Are some names more successful than others? Is your name influencing your career (as David Brooks suggests, noting that Dennis is more likely to become a dentist and Lawrence a lawyer)? Or are both your career and choice of name influenced by factors like personality and values?

Any attempt to explore these questions would need some cold, hard data.  LinkedIn is the perfect place to start: you can find 100 million professionals, their first names and their corresponding career histories (or, as our data science team calls it, a fun project waiting to happen).  I took advantage of one of our InDays to examine the correlations between people's first names and their career choices. We’d like to share our findings with you in an infographic designed by Anita Lillie:

Short Names, Long Names and the Gender Divide

We started by contrasting CEOs across the globe with the average LinkedIn professional to find the top names that are over-represented among CEOs. At first glance, the top CEO names are a reflection of the CEO demographics. Looking more closely, however, we observe a different trend: over-indexed CEO names tend to be either short or shortened versions of popular first names. Onomastics specialist Dr. Frank Nuessel  suggests that shortened versions of given names are often used to denote a sense of friendliness and openness. Female CEOs, on the other hand, use their full name to project a more professional image.

Short, four-letter names are even more popular in sales (Chip, Trey) but not in engineering (Rajesh) or the restaurant industry, where the top over-represented names are Thierry, Philippe and Laurent.

Monosyllabic CEO names are also not necessarily popular in all countries - here are the top over-represented CEO names across the globe:

Whether you are officer Rodney, coach Matt, or Dennis the dentist - your LinkedIn profile is a reflection of your professional identity, so it’s important to keep it up to date.