Do You Know Where Your Next Leader Is?

Jonathan Crystal
Jonathan Crystal
CFO, Crystal & Company

The recent resignation of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and the tragic death of HNA Group Chairman Wang Jian, provide crucial reminders that organizations should be ready for the unexpected departure of their senior leadership at any time. In the case of Intel, the board must now find a successor in less-than-ideal circumstances, while CFO Robert Swan serves as interim chief executive. Krzanich, who is 58, had been in the job for five years, so one would assume the board had already started thinking about the next generation of leadership.

For HNA Group, their co-founder and chairman’s untimely passing while on vacation with his family in France comes at a critical time for their organization, which is in the midst of restructuring.

Other recent examples of sudden CEO departures illustrate the need for organizations to have a succession plan in place long before the first signs of trouble. Take for instance Barnes & Noble CEO Demos Parneros’ sudden firing for undisclosed company policy violations. A group of Barnes & Noble executives, including the chief financial officer, Allen Lindstrom, are temporarily sharing CEO responsibilities while the organization looks for a replacement.

Bottom Line: CEO succession is a risk management issue and succession planning should begin the first day a new CEO takes his or her position.

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