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According to a survey of executives from more than 160 international companies, the fastest route up the corporate ladder is through the marketing department.

The yearlong survey, sponsored by Korn/Ferry International and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, found executives from Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America unanimous in their selection of marketing.

"The influence of the highly competitive global economy is being felt in the executive suite," said Michael D. Boxberger, president of executive search company Korn/Ferry. "The fight for worldwide market share is heating up, and corporations are turning to proven marketing leaders to protect and expand their competitive positions."

Overall, 37% of those interviewed named marketing as the fast track up the corporate ladder; 30% of those interviewed favored international experience, while 14% named finance.

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