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How do you know if you have the potential to be a successful CEO? Should you aim straight for the top? Maybe you could try out the job first, like Hristiyan Danchev, now in his second year of an BSc International Business Administration programme at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). He spent a month in summer 2023 learning what it’s like to be the CEO of Adecco, a global human resources outsourcing organisation. Hristiyan was chosen from more than 195,000 candidates from 44 countries to fill one of 34 roles in the organisation’s CEO For One Month (CEO1M) initiative. He spent a month working for Adecco Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Czech Republic in the summer of 2023.

There were 34 young CEO1Ms chosen to work alongside the head of an Adecco country or cluster, attending every meeting and event with them. “It’s exciting to learn first-hand what it takes to succeed as a business leader and to gain the skills and experience needed to step up the career ladder,” said Hristiyan.

He wrote his own week-by-week account of his experience on LinkedIn; we asked him more about his experiences with Adecco, and what he learned about being a CEO.

What did you do during your month as CEO?

“I learnt an immense amount about how a multinational company runs. After an introduction to the whole team, my first day started with a weekly local management meeting, and then working with Nadezhda Vasileva, Head of Bulgaria. My schedule filled up with one-to-one meetings and Q&A sessions with executive management, high-level client meetings in-person and online, and on-site visits to clients and factories – including one of the largest chocolate factories in Europe.”

“In the middle of my internship, I was sent to the headquarters of Adecco Greece in Athens, where I met with the cluster head of Adecco Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and Czech Republic, Konstantinos Milonas and the country head of Romania, Francesco Zacchetti. I experienced first-hand how management decisions are made at an executive level.”

While all this was going on, I was also in the race to become the Adecco Global CEO for One Month, for which there were multiple discussions, presentation videos, interviews and alumni talks. I could unleash my full creativity – with the help of the people and resources at Adecco – and propose an innovation which could position the Adecco Group as a trusted brand for Generation Z.”

What attracted you to Adecco’s CEO1M competition?

“I applied because I wanted to gain more practical knowledge and experience, and use the theoretical knowledge from my first year at RSM in a real-life setting.

“But this was just a ‘surface goal’. Deep down, I wanted to challenge myself. I could tell from the selection process that this would be like no other internship. I was excited and nervous, and aged 19 I was one of the youngest candidates. I had to pass many interviews, assessments, case presentations, role-plays and debates to be selected out of the thousands of applicants in my cluster. And this was just the beginning. On-the-job learning and keeping up with the CEO was a whole other challenge! It was a perfect opportunity for me to go way out of my comfort zone and grow.”

What made you stand out from the other candidates?

“The final stage of the selection was a two-day bootcamp for the two best candidates from each country – Bulgaria, Greece and Romania. I did my best to demonstrate my motivation and persistence during all the activities, as well as displaying professionalism, creativity, issue resolution and great public speaking and presentation skills. These are all components of a great leader, which is what Adecco was looking for. The selection process included tests for reasoning, personality, and situational judgment. Happily, I scored highly on those tests!”

How did your IBA at RSM contribute to your time as CEO1M?

“It helped me build a solid basis for knowing how businesses operate, which gave me a head start in understanding how to work within the Adecco Group’s operations. More specifically, RSM helped me to improve my presentation and public speaking skills, and to better understand organisational behaviour. These are essential to being an effective CEO who can lead the company and motivate and steer people in the right direction.”

What are your take-aways after working alongside the CEO of a Global Fortune 500 company?

“It was an intense month, and I’m still reflecting on it. Being CEO is not easy and requires the right skills. The importance of clear communication stood out – and that might be a simple concept but I got to see why it’s important, both internally within teams, management and company-wide, but also externally with clients.

“I learned the importance of taking time to understand people; they are the most important and non-material asset in any company. All the numbers in a profit and loss account are achieved by people.

“With this comes the idea that you need the right people in the company; they should have an overall fit with the team – which is why personality and behaviour are important, not just work experience. An overall good fit in the team will yield maximum productivity; this is an especially important thing to learn from Adecco, a leading firm in the international staffing industry.”

What are your ambitions?

Every CEO1M was asked ‘would you want to be in my place in the future?’ by some of the cluster CEOsS. I think six candidates before me said that they probably would not! The life of a CEO is intense with long working hours and a lot of responsibility and liability. It’s not for everyone.

But I saw the impact that the position has, and the variety of tasks included with it interests me. So this will be something I’ll work towards, and that’s why I said yes, that I most likely would.”         

It’s not the first time a student from Erasmus University Rotterdam has been elected CEO for One Month at Adecco. In 2020, Myrthe van den Reek from Erasmus School of Economics was elected as ‘CEO for One Month’ at Adecco Group Netherlands

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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