Posted: February 16, 2016
By Beth Sawicki
All parents want their children to grow up into happy adults who make a positive impact in society. Some stress, more than others, the importance of becoming successful.
MooseRoots wanted to see which names are most common among CEOs, COOs, VPs and presidents today at major U.S. companies. With help from FindTheCompany, they found the top 26 male and female executive names and organized them by popularity.
According to FindTheCompany, the average age of an executive in the U.S. is 53-and-a-half, so the Atlanta Journal-Constitution took a close look at how each of these names ranked in 1962.
While many of the male executive names are still popular, most of the female names have dwindled, and there are many more male executives in the U.S. than female. Even still, there are just as many baby girl names to choose from on this list.
Select a timeless name here that commands respect -- perhaps you’ll select one based off a favorite innovator or leader.
Carol was the 28th most popular name in 1962. Among executives in 2014, however, it was No. 13.
Carol is an English name which means “strong, free man.”
One Carol who is no doubt free and strong is Carol M. Meyrowitz. She is the president, chief executive officer and director of TJX Companies. She made a reported $28.7 million in 2014, the same year Forbes listed her as the 76th most powerful woman in the world.
Steven was quite common in the U.S. in the 1950s and ’60s, and that is why there are at least 1,227 executives named Steven today.
The CEOs of Qualcomm, Metlife, Bed Bath & Beyond and Suncor Energy all share the English name that means “crown.” Of course, we should also mention the quintessential CEO and pop culture icon Steve Jobs.
Jennifer was the name of the 1970s, ranking first for the whole decade, but was fairly common in the 1960s as well. According to FindTheCompany, there were 125 women named Jennifer with executive positions in 2014.
For parents interested in the name, it’s important to know that Jennifer not only means “white wave,” it is a Cornish variation on the name “Guinevere,” King Arthur’s infamous wife.
Peter has never been a top 10 or even top 20 name in the U.S., but managed to come in at No. 12 for executive males.
There are plenty of whimsical Peters, including Peter Pan and Peter Rabbit, but the CEOs of giants such as Johnson & Johnson, Marsh & McLennan and Fortress Investment Group are named Peter as well.
Deborah has seriously fallen off the radar in recent years, but in the 1950s and ’60s Deborah was all the rage. The name means “bee” and many of these executives certainly need a sting to thrive in such a competitive atmosphere.
The most notable executive named Deborah is Deborah Lloyd, an executive officer of Kate Spade. She was one of the highest earners (among females) in 2014, earning $25 million.
Unlike some of these names that have fallen into obscurity, Joseph has remained popular in the U.S. and Europe. In 2014, FindTheCompany listed 1,306 executives named Joseph in the U.S.
We may have a future mogul named Joseph, as Ivanka Trump chose the name for her son in 2013.
Kathleen dropped slightly in popularity in the 1960s and was the 29th most popular girls name in 1962.
Still, many powerful women today share the name, including Kathleen Barclay, VP of Kroger; Kathleen Philips, COO of Zillow; and Kathleen M. Benning, executive VP of Buffalo Wild Wings.
While Paul was more popular in the 1950s and ’60s than it is today, it never reached top 10 status in the U.S. However, it did rank in 10th place for executive names in 2014.
The name means “small,” but also commemorates Saint Paul, remembered as one of the founders of Christianity.
From 1955 until 1970, Mark was a top 10 name in the U.S. It has since slowed in popularity, ranking at No. 189 in 2014, but the Biblical name meaning “warlike” or “horse” appears at the top of some of the most influential companies in the world.
Oracle, Goldman Sachs, Ford, Nike and Exxon Mobile all have Marks in very high positions.
Nancy was not a top 10 name in the 1960s, but ranked ninth as an executive name in 2014.
The name means “grace,” and it undoubtedly takes someone who is graceful under pressure to obtain such a high-ranked position.
It is fitting that Patricia is the eighth-most popular female executive name, as it ranked in the top 10 throughout the 1960s.
There are some powerful executives today named Patricia, including Patricia Ann Woertz, president and CEO of Archer Daniels Midland; and Patricia E. Yarrington, a vice president and CFO of Chevron. These women earned salaries of $17 million and $10 million in 2014, respectively.
It’s very fitting that Richard means “dominant ruler,” as there have been quite a few influential Richards throughout history, including King Richard the Lionheart and Richard Nixon.
Top executives named Richard include Richard Fairbank, the CEO of Capital One Financial; and Richard Branson, the colorful founder of Virgin Group.
Along with Mary, Lisa was the “it” name in the 1960s and early 1970s. It was the most popular name in 1962, and 144 executives were named Lisa in 2014.
The name Thomas has always been popular in the U.S. and Europe. Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and even Thomas the Tank Engine have given this name notoriety.
Of course, the name is common in the business world as well; there were 2,353 executives named Thomas in the U.S. in 2014.
In the 1950s and ’60s, Barbara was an incredibly common name, ranking 14th in 1962. Today, it falls in sixth place for female executive names.
Barbara means “foreign woman,” but has become somewhat dated, as the most well-known Barbaras are Barbara Walters and Barbara Bush.
William has always been a common choice among parents for boys, and currently executives named William are leading a vast array of companies. From Kate Spade to Raytheon and Apple, Williams are a diverse bunch.
Unlike the proceeding top four female names that have fallen out of popularity, Elizabeth is still a very common name, ranking at No. 14 in 2014.
It is important to note that while Elizabeth did not rank in the top 10 in popularity in the 1960s (No. 20 in 1962), it ranks fifth for top executive names. The top-earning CEO named Elizabeth in 2014 was Elizabeth Smith, the CEO of Bloomin’ Brands. She took home $6.21 million in 2014.
The popularity of the name James 50 years ago closely parallels the number of executives named James today. The Hebrew name means “supplanter,” and there were 3,423 male executives named James in 2014.
The name might soon increase in popularity for girls, considering stars Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively recently chose James for their baby girl.
Linda means “pretty,” but many female executives named Linda are more than just a pretty face, having worked extremely hard to become successful.
Some notable executives named Linda include Linda Chen, the subsidiary president of Wynn Resorts; and Linda Lang, the former CEO of Jack in the Box.
Like David, Michael is another name that remains popular throughout the years. It was the most popular name in the U.S. in 1962, and has not fallen below the top 10 since 1942.
One of the wealthiest people on this list, Michael T. Fries, the CEO and president of Liberty Global, took in $112 million in 2014.
Karen is a name of Scandinavian origin that means “pure.” During the baby boom, the name reached No. 3 in popularity in 1960, so it is fitting that there are 191 executives named Karen today, according to FindTheCompany.
Perhaps the most well-known executive named Karen is Karen Kaplan, the CEO of the Boston-based marketing agency Hill Holiday.
David consistently ranked in the top five in popularity in the U.S. in the early 1960s. Therefore, it is no surprise that David is the third most common male executive name. Although it is a classic name, David remains popular today and ranked at No. 18 in 2014.
One of the highest-earning Davids is David M. Zaslav, the CEO and president of Discovery Communications. He made a whopping $156 million in 2014.
Although the name has dropped off in recent decades, Susan was a top choice for parents in the 1960s. It was the third most popular name in 1962 and today is the second most popular executive name for females.
Susan is a strong Hebrew name that means “graceful lily.”
Robert ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. from 1880 until 1990, when popularity eventually waned.
The Norman name means “famed, bright and shining,” and there are many skillful executives named Robert. Companies including Time Warner Cable, Las Vegas Sands and Comcast are all run by gentlemen named Robert.
Mary was the No. 1 name for females in the U.S. from the early 1900s until 1962, when it fell to No. 2.
Because Mary was such a popular name in the 1960s, it is not surprisingly that many top executives share the name today. Perhaps the most well known is Mary Barra, the CEO of GM.
The name John ranked in the top 10 in the U.S. until 1987, and such a popular name is bound to have success stories in every field, including business. John is by far the most popular executive name in the U.S.
There were 4,698 executives named John in the U.S. in 2014. This March, the "New York Times" published a slightly distressing article titled “Fewer Women Run Big Companies Than Men Named John.”
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