The Secret Lives of CEOs and Top Execs

HR & Safety

Common characteristics of senior management

CEOs: They’re just like us (for the most part). While movies and TV want us to believe every company’s senior executives travel via chauffeured limousine, eat only five-star gourmet meals and sport wardrobes worthy of British royalty, the reality for most company executives is much less extravagant. A lighthearted, newly released survey from CareerBuilder takes a closer look at the personalities and preferences of those who occupy the corner office.

The study was conducted online in November to December 2014 by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 500 executives (hiring and human resources managers in senior leadership positions including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and Senior VPs).

Dressing the Part

Unlike “30 Rock” head honcho Jack Donaghy, only one in five executives (20%) consider a business suit typical office attire. Most executives (57%) outfit themselves in business casual clothing, while 18% regularly wear jeans or shorts to work.

Black is the clothing color of choice for 32% of executives, making it the most popular choice for this group. Navy blue is the second most popular color worn by executives (31%), followed by grey (10%).

Riding in Cars with Bosses

Don’t expect to see the chief executive pulling up to the office in a chauffeured town car like top dog Miranda Priestley in “The Devil Wears Prada.” Most executives (79%) take themselves to work in an automobile, with one in four (24%) driving an SUV, one in five (22%) opting for a mid-sized sedan, and one in 10 (10%) cruising around in luxury sedan.

Nearly one in five executives (18%) use environmentally friendly ways to get around, with 9% taking public transportation (bus or train), 4% driving hybrids, 4% walking, and 1% riding their bikes.

Wining and Dining

“Scandal” bigwig Olivia Pope might have a penchant for red wine and the partners of Sterling Cooper on “Mad Men” may sip whiskey on the regular, but in reality, more than three in five of executives (62%) abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages at company happy hours. Instead, they opt for soda (23%), water (19%), coffee (13%) or nothing at all (7%). Thirteen percent of executives kick back with a beer, and the same number (13%) opt for wine, while 8% opt for mixed drinks.

When it comes to their dining habits, nearly half of executives (42%) bring their lunch from home, while the rest opt for fast food (22%) or food from a sit-down restaurant (14%). Ten percent of executives say they don’t eat lunch on a typical day.

Righties vs. Lefties

Right-handers outnumber left-handers by nearly seven to one (80% versus 13%); however, 8% of executives claim to be ambidextrous.

When it comes to parting their hair, three in 10 executives (29%) favor the right side, 19% go down the middle, and 15% part on the left. One in four (25%) don’t part their hair at all, while 11% sport a shaved or bald head.

Working Hard, Working Out

When asked how many hours they work in a typical week, 40 was the minimum for most head honchos. Fifty-eight percent of executives say they work 40 to 49 hours a week, and 32% work 50 hours or more. Only a lucky few (9%) say they work less than 40 hours a week.

Despite having a packed schedule, the vast majority of executives (82%) are able to squeeze in at least one work out a week, with 39% working up a sweat four or more days a week. Nearly one in five (18%) say they “rarely” or “never” work out.

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