Thursday, December 10, 2009

CEO Succession Planning Continues to be Boom or Bust

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Recent Fortune 500 CEO resignations are putting the spotlight on CEO succession planning, according to Egon Zehnder International, a global executive search firm.

Yet, findings of an Egon Zehnder International survey of senior executives reveal none of the top level US executives taking the survey believe their companies are best in class or highly successful at meeting the challenge of succession planning. Equally important, nearly one-half (47%) believe their companies are average at succession planning and the remaining 53% felt their companies had failed to build an effective succession plan.
"The global financial crisis has resulted in high CEO turnover. This fact combined with the recent SEC announcement that would allow shareholders to challenge the Board to disclose more information about plans for CEO succession, makes developing a succession plan even more critical," said George L. Davis, Jr., a member of executive search firm Egon Zehnder International's Executive Management Committee and Co-Managing Partner of the Global Board Practice.
The survey is based on responses to online interviews with 1,092 top managers in nine countries representing all industries. The US is not alone in its belief that management is ill prepared for a transition in leadership. Eighty percent of French top managers indicate that they are not successful at leadership succession planning and 71 percent of respondents in the UK indicate that they are only moderately successful at leadership succession planning.
In stark contrast, 70 percent of top managers in Germany believe they are successful at planning for leadership succession (40% very successful and 30% moderately successful). In India, 57 percent (28% very successful and 29% moderately successful) of top executives believe that they are successful at succession planning. In Australia, this number is 44 percent.
"At a time when CEO succession continues to dominate the headlines, it is clear that planning for leadership change is critical to the success of a corporation," said Justus O'Brien, head of the US CEO Succession Practice, Egon Zehnder International. "Our findings shed light on how corporate America needs to be better prepared for both planned and unplanned changes in top leadership," he added.
About the Methodology
The Study was conducted by Egon Zehnder International in October 2008 among top executives in the U.S., Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, France, Luxembourg, U.K. and India. The objective of the survey was to examine corporate management issues. A global total of 1,092 executives were surveyed. Small and medium-sized businesses as well as major corporations across many different industries were represented on this distinguished panel. Egon Zehnder International first held an online survey in 2004 to question top leaders about current issues in corporate management.
About Egon Zehnder International
Egon Zehnder International is one of the largest privately-held executive search firms in the world with nearly 400 consultants operating from 63 wholly owned offices in 37 countries. The firm specializes in senior-level executive search, board consulting and director search, management appraisals, and talent management. Egon Zehnder International's clients range in size from the world's largest corporations to emerging growth companies to government and regulatory bodies and major educational and cultural organizations. Egon Zehnder International has sector specialists organized into global practices. These include Industrial, Financial Services, Consumer, Life Sciences, Technology & Communications, Services, Private Capital and Sovereign Wealth Funds. For more information visit

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