Dear Colleagues!  This is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #541. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Continued from Previous……

Nitin Nohria, a dean at Harvard Business School, and Michael E. Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, are well-known to management students and practitioners. Several years ago, both launched a study to understand what CEOs actually did on and off job.

The study design was to track the entire activities of a CEO 24/7 at 15 minutes intervals for 13 weeks. It was a tall order, but they were able to enlist a number of willing CEOs and their executive assistants. Porter and Nohria collected 60,000 hours of data on 27 CEOs, 2 women, and 25 men. The data was shared with the CEOs and the pair interviewed them to get further insight into CEOs working schedules. The study report was published in HBR in 2018 and it won the HBR McKinsey Award for ‘Best Harvard Business Review Article of the Year’.

These CEOs managed multi-billion-dollar, global companies with an average turnover of about 13 billion US$ during the study period.

This study is quite interesting as it offers the first comprehensive and detailed examination of CEO time use in large, complex organization. [the link appears at the end]

We shall skip the details of study design and go to the results.

Main Findings

  1. CEOs are always on
    1. The CEOs are always on the job. In number of hours, they worked 9.7 hours every workday on average.
    1. In addition, they put in 3.9 hours average per day on 79% of weekends
    1. Further, they put in 2.4 hours per day on average on 70% of vacation days
  2.  Such grueling schedule is essential to the role. It happens because every function of the company wants to have direct contact with the top person.
  3. The will to delegate notwithstanding, the CEOs must spend some time with each of them to share vision, provide direction, create alignment, win support, and gather information needed to make right decisions.
  4. Travel is also mandatory. No company can be run sitting at the head office alone.
  5. Health and wellbeing become very important so that the CEOs would stay fit and healthy to run a stressful job. On average, the CEOs spent about 45 minutes each day on some sort of exercise regime.
  6. On an average, they slept 6.9 hours a night.
  7. For about 6 hours, the CEOs were awake and not working.
    1. They spent about half of this time with families and were generally disciplined about it.
    1. About 2.1 hours average were spent by them as downtime, like watching TV, light reading, or hobbies like photography.
  8. CEOs also need to make time for their own self development and renewal. The data showed that this often happened to get ignored.
  9. Face-to-face interactions took 61% of CEOs time
  10. 15% was spent on the phone or reading and replying to written communication.
  11. Last 24% was spent on electronic communication
  12. Face-to-face is the best way for interacting, coaching, delegating, rallying and so on. The face-to-face time of a CEO is viewed as a signal of what or who is important. People watch it more carefully than most CEOs may recognize.
  13. CEOs are endlessly copied on FYI emails. It is an unnecessary pressure if they respond to each one, and rude if they don’t. This is the typical email trap.
  14. CEOs should set up norms for what emails they need to receive, and which one they must reply.
  15. [quote] In the end, though, there is no substitute for being disciplined about resisting the siren call of electric communications. This is a topic our CEOs were often animated about, and best practices in this area are still emerging.[unquote]

To be Continued……

Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.

Leave a Reply