Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Executive Age

Fairly regularly, I browse (not study) a French publication which consists of a classified list of executive appointments. On page one, "rumors" (I try to pay them no attention) and "zoom", followed by the categories: Services, Finance, Energy/Chemical, and so on, finishing with ministries, associations, diplomatic corps, and foreign posts.

A typical issue is about eight pages long, including the subscription coupon and other self-promo boxes. But the entries are not as dense as the telephone directory; they often include biographical information, company activity summary, or both.

The main raison d'etre is networking: if someone you know is promoted or hired, you have an opportunity to send congratulations. Job-seeking and you see an alum from your school get a good job? Could be she'll be reorganizing and would be glad to know you are available. It may also help career plan, tabulating career paths (and diplomas) of the executive named.

I have yet to see anyone I know listed. This week I noticed appointments to replace some people I know, former colleagues (with whom I have not stayed in touch). A few months ago, they even gave Prime Minister De Villepin's staff, and his bio!

There is a lot of talk about the low workforce participation rate of "older" French, enough so that I'll save that (and my thoughts on the diagnosis and options) for other posts. Today, I'll just add a back-of-the-envelope analysis that confirms something I read lately: careers in France are down to fifteen years, ages thirty to forty-five, after which one is a has-been...which makes contributing to a retirement fund for forty years increasingly rarely possible. The analysis is simple. The exec appointments in this publication give year of birth in about three cases out of four; overlooking the possible biases (the omitted birthdates could be the very young or the very old), the tally gives the following:

When BornAgesCount
1945-4956-60 2
1950-5451-55 6
1955-5946-50 7
1960-6441-45 14
1965-6936-40 18
1970-7431-35 10
1975-7926-30 2

Since we're talking high-level jobs (general manager, financial director, e.g.) we are looking at the ages of *mature* executives, not beginners. They are mostly 31-45, with the biggest group occurring at 36-40!

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