Want to be a CEO? Peter and Deborah are the name of the game

What's in a name? Well, according to LinkedIn, it helps to determine your career prospects...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2011
Never mind using psychometric tests to determine what makes people successful in business - LinkedIn reckons it’s all about your name. The social networking site has analysed the names of 100m of its members and discovered that the most common names for the people in the corner office are Peter for men, and Deborah for women. Either that - or you’re guaranteed a spot on Dragons’ Den...

The full list of popular names was Peter, Bob, Jack, Bruce and Fred for the chaps, and Deborah, Sally, Debra (although we’d argue that’s cheating a bit), Cynthia and Carolyn for women. According to LinkedIn, this illustrates an interesting gender divide: it seems men go for punchy, single syllable versions of longer names, while women go for their full titles. The theory is that men want to ‘denote a sense of friendliness and openness’, while women would rather ‘project a more professional image’. Although by that reckoning, the UK’s top CEO name, Charles, seems a bit standoffish. Perhaps ‘Chas’ might come across as a bit more cuddly?

Apparently, the top names also vary according to profession (we’ll warn you now: you’re about to witness some shameless stereotyping). In sales, the top names are Trey, Todd and Chip (seriously), while for engineers it’s Rajesh, Jeremy and Andrew. And for those working in restaurants, the list is particularly clichéd, comprising, as it does, Thierry, Philippe and Laurent. Ooh la la.

Does this sort of thing really matter? Well, the good people at LinkedIn suggest that a name forms a large part of people’s first impression of you.

On the other hand, if your name isn't on this list, we wouldn’t worry too much. There’s only one Peter among the chief execs of the top 10 FTSE100 companies, and not a single Deborah to be seen.

So there you have it. Juliet might have been right that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet – but there’s a chance it wouldn’t have had such effective leadership qualities.

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