In a survey of 1364 professionals, 55% said they aspired to a position as a top executive and a further 29% said they had the ambition to work in mid to senior level management.
A final 16% said they did not want to work in a management role.
Hays said there were a limited number of vacancies for top jobs and workers needed to develop a wide range of skills to fit the bill.
“A solid foundation and strong technical skills are important building blocks for an executive career,” Hays Resources and Mining regional director Chris Kent said.
“Executives who have made it to the top are those who have successfully used their expertise to become excellent operators and combined their technical skills with the highest levels of people, management, communication and organisational skills.
“They also have commercial acumen and the ability to see the big picture and understand how every decision will impact the company’s future.”
For those wanting to reach the upper levels of management, Hays said many top executives had a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration or another work-related area.
Developing commercial acumen and an understanding of a business’ financial drivers is also important, along with strong leadership, communication and management skills.
“Top executives need good problem-solving skills and the ability to recognise shortcomings and effectively carry out solutions,” Kent said.
Hays said a formal individual development plan could also highlight key areas for improvement.
Striving for relevant experience inside and outside the current position was also important for those wanting to move up the ladder.
“For those who wish to become a top executive, knowing which skills and abilities matter most is essential for success and will go a long way towards differentiating you from the competition,” Kent said.