How Long Do Corporate Innovation Jobs Last — and What Happens Next?

How long do people typically last in a corporate innovation role? What do they do next? And what is most likely to trigger a job change?

We wanted to learn more about innovation tenure and career paths, so we analyzed 152 LinkedIn profiles of people who’ve held innovation-related roles in the past, from innovation managers to Global Heads of Innovation to Chief Innovation Officers. Our sample included a wide range of industries, but was composed predominantly of US-based professionals (93 percent; the remaining 7 percent were professionals based in Europe and Australia). To understand why people in innovation-related roles changed jobs, we fielded a separate survey in January 2019 which received 132 qualified responses. It’s worth noting that while these two samples — referred to below as the LinkedIn sample and the online survey — may have some overlap, they are not identical populations. We also sought out former corporate innovators and a recruiter who works in the innovation space to add their perspectives to the data.

The average tenure in our LinkedIn sample was just under four-and-a-half years (4.4, to be exact). We found that Vice Presidents of Innovation tended to have the longest tenures (5.4 years), and Innovation Managers the shortest (3.3 years).

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