Wednesday, 07 July 2010 11:28

Technology CEOs Report - Combined Chairman and CEO Featured

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Fewer than 50% of companies had independent Chairmen, and companies with revenue between $100 M – $1 B are slightly more prone to allowing one person to hold the combined roles.

CEO only vs. CEO and Chairman distribution


Companies with independent chairmen outperformed companies that combined roles.

ceo only vs. ceo and chairman performance comparison

The performance edge was more marked in larger companies.

CEO only vs. CEO and Chairman Performance Comparison

There is a smaller edge for companies with revenue between $100 M – $1 B.

CEO only vs. CEO and chairman performance comparison

The smaller edge for companies with revenue between $100 M – $1 B may be due to the fact that there has not been an impetus to recruit an independent Chair when a strong founder has successfully transitioned from start-up to mid-sized company. Formalizing a separate Chair role tends to happen as companies mature.


Companies with independent chairs do nominally outperform their peers based on median 3-year growth rates. However, the labels can mask actual division of responsibilities.

In some companies, a CEO transitioning to a Chair-only role may influence selection of a cooperative replacement CEO who lets the Chair still call the shots. In other companies, a strong CEO forced to accept an “independent” Chair may influence the selection to retain as much free reign as possible.

This is a controversial area and one that merits more investigation.

Read 608 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 March 2021 15:48
Dora Vell

Managing Partner

Dora Vell is the CEO of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston that recruits technology executives and board members for companies ranging from promising tech startups to Fortune 100 companies. Throughout her 22-year career in executive search, she has successfully completed hundreds of assignments, placing board members, CEOs, COOs, CIOs, technology officers, vice presidents and many other C-level executives. Vell’s clients span both private and public companies and her work has included searches in markets large and small across the U.S. and Canada.

Prior to founding Vell Executive Search in 2005, she was a partner at the executive search consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles for seven years. She started in the Technology Practice in the Toronto office, became the firm’s Technology Practice leader for Canada, and then joined the firm’s Boston office.

Before her career in executive search, Vell worked for 11 years at IBM Canada in software-related roles of increasing responsibility. She started as a software engineer, managed a software engineering team of 100, and then led software sales for IBM Canada. She holds seven worldwide software patents. This deep industry understanding has helped Vell Executive Search become a recognized leader in finding senior executive and board talent for software and SaaS companies.

Vell is a recognized industry thought leader who has published several reports on governance and leadership topics. She has been frequently quoted as an expert on executive and board leadership by outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, Fortune, Agenda Week, MSNBC, Mass High Tech, The OPUS for the World Economic Forum, Boston Business Journal, The Globe & Mail, CIO Magazine, and IEEE. She has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell has been a Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State University, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for Developmentally Handicapped Adults,, and RBC Capital Partners.

The trilingual daughter of a diplomat, Vell grew up in Canada, Greece, France, Switzerland and China. Her unique multicultural and international perspective, experiences as a woman in the male-dominated software field, and insights as a dual Canadian and U.S. citizen inform all her work for clients.

Vell received an MBA from the University of Toronto, a master’s in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, and a bachelor’s in Computer Science from Carleton University.  She has also completed the MIT Entrepreneurial Master’s program.

Areas of Practice:

  • C-Level Technology Executives
  • CEOs, CROs, Heads of Sales, Heads of Marketing, Chief Product Officers
  • Technology Officers: CTOs, CIOs, Heads of Engineering, CISOs, Chief Data Officers
  • Board Directors
  • Diversity Executives and Board Directors
  • Canadian Executives and Board Directors


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