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Engineers on the rise in leadership ranks

A growing proportion of CEOs and company founders have technical engineering backgrounds, and their average age is declining.

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The Revenge of the Nerds includes the boardroom, a new study has found.

Company founders and chief executives are far more likely to hold advanced engineering degrees than MBAs, according to the analysis by online recruitment site Identified.com. Culling through 36 million U.S. and Canadian professional profiles on Facebook, the company found that 3,337 company founders and chief executives have an advanced engineering background, compared with 1,016 MBAs.

Not only are founders more likely to be technically oriented, they're also getting younger, with the average age dropping to about 33, from 36 in 2008.

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The shift could have a significant impact on corporate culture, said Brendan Wallace, co-founder of Identified.com. "It seems the tables are turning in the modern corporate hierarchy," he said. Engineers are not only in demand in the workplace, but more engineers are also launching new businesses, particularly in information technology, social media and mobile industries.

Ontario's University of Waterloo was one of the top 10 schools in the world producing top-ranked engineers, the study found. The others were several well-known universities in the United States, the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai, and China's Tsinghua University.

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About the Author

Wallace Immen is an award-winning staff writer for The Globe and Mail whose stories about workplace trends and career advice, as well as about cruising and travel destinations around the world appear regularly in print and on-line. He has worn many hats in his career with the Globe, including science writer, medical writer and columnist, urban affairs reporter and travel writer. More

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