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Immigration success: Half of top CEOs were born overseas

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas, actress Karina Smirnoff with James Hardie's Jack Truong, and AMP's Francesco de Ferrari. (Images: Newcrest, Getty, AMP)

Almost half the best chief executive officers in Australia were born overseas, showing how valuable immigration is to the country.

The new Australian Top 50 CEOs report, commissioned by Apollo Communications, shows 24 of those listed were foreign-born.

This compares to just 3 per cent of bosses leading the top 500 companies in the United States, according to Apollo chief Adam Connolly.

"This suggests that equality of opportunity for people from different ethnic backgrounds is alive and well in Australia, compared to the world’s largest economy," he said.

"Of Australia’s 24 foreign-born CEO in our Top 50, nine are from the UK, four from the US, three from South Africa, two from New Zealand and one each from Vietnam, Columbia, India, France and Ireland."

Orica chief Alberto Calderon and Woolworths' Brad Banducci. (Images: Orica, AAP)

In the top 50, foreign-born chiefs included Woolworths' Brad Banducci (South Africa), James Hardie's Jack Truong (Vietnam), Newcrest Mining's Sandeep Biswas (India), Orica's Alberto Calderon (Columbia) and AMP's Francesco de Ferrari (Italy).

Of course, chief executives, like everyone else, can't control where they are born. But later international experience also greatly helps in getting the top job.

"80 per cent of CEOs have worked overseas at some point in their careers – confirming that global experience is highly valued by boards, even if it is largely seen as irrelevant by customers," Connolly said.

The findings came on top of the revelation about which university degree produced the most chief executives in the top 50.

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