CEOs are not getting any younger

There may be many 30-something Microsoft millionaires walking around, but the majority of the CEOs in Canada’s fastest growing technology companies are between 40 and 49.

A recent Deloitte and Touche study of the 50 fastest growing companies in Canada revealed that 52 per cent of CEOs were between 40 and 49-years-old, another 22 per cent were more than 50-years-old.

Garry Foster, national director of technology and communications for Deloitte and Touche, was surprised there weren’t more young CEOs in the Canadian Technology Fast 50 study.

“I think to some extent the age will become younger, but I don’t think it’s going to go to 26,” he said. “The other thing that was a little disconcerting was that all the CEOs were men.”

In the past, he noted, there have always been some firms on the list with women at the helm.

Companies are asked to send in revenue numbers from 1995 on, Foster said, and the fastest 50 listing is based on those numbers. The companies must have recorded revenues of $75,000 or more in 1995 to be considered.

Deloitte and Touche announces the request for information in the media and sends out forms to thousands of Canadian companies. Foster said they don’t usually have problem getting responses.

“These companies want publicity, so the response is really great,” he said.

Along with the application, companies are required to fill out a survey. Foster said one other surprising result was that few ranked employee retention as a key challenge.

“We asked them what some of the most challenging factors were in running their business – hiring staff was number one,” Foster said.

Finding staff was most important to 60 per cent of the companies, whereas only 26 per cent said retaining employees was the most difficult.

“Most of these companies believe they can retain their staff if they can get them. You have to remember these are the growing companies, so they probably have terrific growth opportunities,” he said.

He added that 99 per cent of the companies said they are or are planning on hiring more staff. “If you’re a qualified person in Canada looking for a job, you’ve got 50 good companies right here looking to hire,” Foster noted.

More than half of the corporations on the list are based in Ontario, while British Columbia, Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba shared 24 listings.

Foster said Ontario is the only province which has fewer companies listed than in previous years.

“I don’t think it’s because Ontario isn’t growing, we’re just seeing more growth (elsewhere), especially in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba.”

The lack of Maritime companies didn’t concern Foster, as he noted Deloitte had also looked at new companies and three Maritime companies made that list.

“I think we’re going to see more companies from different places as soon as next year,” he said.

Foster stated that many of the companies on the list are not the recent start-ups, but more long-standing companies.

“There’s no doubt this is the fastest growing area of the economy. The high-tech side is on fire. Companies are popping up every day, but these (successful) companies are established. They’re the ones that have lasted,” he said.

The study also reports an industry breakdown with software leading the way at 62 per cent – down from last year’s 66 per cent. Semiconductor/equipment manufacturers were at two per cent, down from last year’s eight per cent, while communications and networking was up to eight per cent from 1999’s two per cent. Internet also rose from last year’s two per cent to six per cent.

Other technology-related business was up from last year’s eight per cent to 12 per cent, but that was still lower than 1998’s 18 per cent. Biotechnology and Medical/Scientific stayed the same at two per cent.