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Meet Michael, a visual representation of the average CEO. 

Michael, America's Average CEO

At People Managing People, we meticulously examined CEOs from Fortune 100 companies, gathering data on their age, educational background, salary, and even their physical appearance. With the power of AI, we've brought ‘Michael’ to life as a representative figure of the average CEO.

Michael, aged 59, is a Harvard Business School graduate, leading a healthcare company with an annual salary of $22.2 million.

For a complete breakdown of our research findings, please explore the details below.


There are more CEO’s named Michael and John than female CEOs

There exists a notable gender imbalance within the CEO ranks, with 90 male CEOs and just 10 female CEOs. Remarkably, the combined number of CEOs named Michael and John (12) surpasses the number of female CEOs.


Female CEOs are paid 26% less than male CEOs

The gender gap isn’t just prevalent in terms of representation, it extends to salaries too. While the average salary for a male Fortune 100 CEO was $22.8 million, female Fortune 100 CEOs earned an average of $16.8 million, 26% less than their male counterparts.

The total average CEO salary is $22.2 million, which is an incredible 363 times more than the average US salary of $61,000.

To put this into perspective, CEOs have to work less than a day (0.71 of a day to be precise) to earn the average American salary. This means that if they work a standard Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm work week, they’d earn the average yearly salary by 2:45pm on Monday, less than 6 hours into a working day. 

The highest paid CEO is Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet Inc, according to recent annual company reports he was paid $226 million while the lowest paid CEO who received a salary was Warren Buffet, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway was paid $401,000. While Tesla’s Elon Musk forgoes his salary completely.


16% of CEOs studied Business at University

CEOs were most likely to have studied business, with 16% of CEOs studying either business, business management or business administration. This was closely followed by economics (14%) and accounting (10%).

Harvard and Boston College stood out as the favored institutions for Fortune 100 CEOs, each boasting four CEOs among their alumni.

Only one CEO didn’t appear to go to University at all, that’s Todd Jones of Publix. Todd started working at Publix in 1980 as a ‘front-service clerk’, more commonly known as a ‘bagger’ and steadily ascended the corporate ladder to ultimately attain the position of CEO in 2016, proving the company has the ultimate platform for employee recognition - no ceiling to internal promotions.


The average age of CEOs in the Fortune 100 is 59. With Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway being the most senior at the age of 93, and 39 year old Mark Zuckerberg of Meta Platforms (formerly named Facebook Inc) being the youngest.


Data was collected in September 2023

‘Michael’ AI image
‘Michael’ was created by aggregating and then merging the images of Fortune 100 CEOs. These images were obtained from various sources including official company websites and LinkedIn profile pictures. These images were then blended together using Midjourney to generate Michael,' who’s appearance represents the average Fortune 100 CEO.

Salary Data
The term 'Salary' refers to the remuneration package received by a CEO processed by internal payroll software, encompassing various components such as base salary, stock and shares, bonuses, and other associated benefits. These figures were sourced from who obtain their data from annual company reports.

When analysing the remuneration of CEOs, the following approach has been employed

  1. Predecessor's Salary — In cases where a newly appointed CEO has succeeded a predecessor, the salary information pertaining to the predecessor has been employed as a benchmark for CEO compensation analysis. This approach ensures consistency and comparability in evaluating CEO remuneration.
  1. ​​Exclusion of Salaries — the salaries of four individuals, were not able to be identified. These individuals are 
  • Craig Desanto of New York Life Insurance
  • Kirt Walker of Nationwide
  • Timothy M. Sweeney of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group
  • Jay D. Debertin of CHS
  1. Special Case: Elon Musk of Tesla — A noteworthy exception pertains to Elon Musk, who has forgone his salary, resulting in a reported figure of $0. This unique scenario has been duly acknowledged, and Elon Musk’s $0 salary has been excluded from the average salary calculation.

The Average CEO Salary
The average CEO salary was calculated by multiplying the salaries of CEO’s (excluding the special cases mentioned above) and dividing by the number of CEOs. 

Average CEO salary = Total Salaries ÷ Number of CEOs 

$2,112,398,068÷ 95 = $22,235,769

The Average Male CEO Salary
Average Male CEO salary = Total Male Salaries ÷ Number of Male CEOs

$1,943,530,768 ÷ 85 = $22,865,067

The Average Female CEO Salary
Average Female CEO salary = Total Female Salaries ÷ Number of Female CEOs

$168,867,300 ÷ 10 CEOs = $16,886,730

Calculation of Average CEO Daily Pay
To determine the average daily pay for CEOs and its relation to the average US salary, the following calculation was used:

The average CEO annual salary, calculated to be $22,200,000 (rounded to nearest hundred thousand), was divided by 52 weeks to establish a weekly pay rate. This weekly pay rate was then further divided by 5 working days to derive the daily pay rate. The formula used for this calculation is as follows:

Average CEO Daily Pay = (Average CEO Annual Salary ÷ 52 weeks) ÷ 5 working days = $85,384

Average CEO hourly pay = Average CEO daily pay ÷ 8 hour working day = $10,673

Calculation of CEO's Working Days Required to Earn Average US Salary
To determine the number of days a CEO needs to work to earn the average salary in the US of $61,000 (source The United States Social Security Administration for the year 2022 rounded to the nearest thousand), the following calculation was employed:

Number of days required = Average US Salary ÷ Average CEO Daily Compensation

Number of days required = $61,000 ÷ $85,384 = 0.71 days

Gender Data
There are more CEO’s named Michael (7) and John (5) than female CEO’s (10)

CEOs named Michael and John were most prevalent, totalling 12 individuals, surpassing the count of female CEOs, which stood at 10. It is noteworthy that variations of the name Michael and John, such as Michel and Mike and Jon and Juan, were also included in these figures.

Education Data
University data was collected through desk research, collecting information from company websites, LinkedIn, and interviews with CEOs on publications.

All CEOs are on the payroll for US companies and does not include any CEOs that are hired remotely via an employer of record service or HR software.

Age was collected through desk research, including company filings and information publicly available on the web.  

Full data is available on request, please contact

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.