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Thursday, 15 January 2015 01:41

Top 10 Leadership Trends in 2014 Featured

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Trend 1 - Activist Shareholders & Protecting Star Execs

  • Activist Shareholders: Shareholder activism has rapidly changed how corporate America thinks. Yahoo, eBay, HP all took actions after strong activist shareholder pressure. It has not worked out so well yet for Carl Icahn with Nuance communications, but the story is still being written.
  • Microsoft CEO Search: rumors of the Microsoft CEO Search targeting Mark Hurd at Oracle and Steven Mollenkopf at Qualcomm may have precipitated the CEO promotions of Hurd and Mollenkopf.

Trend 2 - Splitting of the Giants Will Attract Better Talent: HP, eBay, Symantec.  While we cannot comment on the financial merits of each of these splits, the ability to attract better talent to a standalone company is undeniable. One can attract significantly better talent to a significantly sized standalone company with a differentiated strategy and more flexibility to move. In addition, given the same type of talent, the ability to operate more independently in itself, has significant benefits in attracting executives. Nokia is a split of sorts, with the sale of its handset division to Microsoft.  It promoted from within for the CEO role, as well as the successor to the map division of HERE.

Trend 3 – Board Leadership Collaborative Succession Plans Split Chair/CEO Roles - Most of these corporations split the role to promote a candidate to the CEO role, five of the six for internal candidates (Oracle, Qualcomm, FIS,  Jive, TIBCO) and one external candidate, Ixia. In one case for the internal candidate, TIBCO, the change was precipitated by Vista Equity Partners. The TIBCO case is the only one where the former CEO does not stay on the board as Executive Chairman, as the ownership has changed.

Trend 4 - Great or Poor Performance Results in Combining Chair/CEO Roles-  The merging of the  Chairman & CEO roles, is due to either outstanding or lacklustre performance.  Harris Corporation and Demandware have outstanding performance and  NetApp probably needed more concentrated focus.

Trend 5 – Boards Appoint Many CTOs/CIOs and Few CFOs – board appointments were very standard in 2014, with ages and functional groups represented as usual. The usual preponderance of CEOs and GMs, investment executives were present this year. One big surprise was the increase in the number of technology executives and very few CFOs.

Trend 6 – More Women on Boards but Few in Board Leadership - 28% *14 of 49 total. Tech companies appointed 14 women on boards. In addition, two  existing board members who undertook leadership roles at HP.

Trend 7 – CEO Transitions. We cover this topic extensively for the technology section every month in our Open CEO roles monthly newsletter and most recent appointments (this can be found in our blog Open CEO Roles; Recent CEO Appointments).

  • Transitions from Long term founders/CEOs : Microsoft, Oracle, Ixia, and InfoSys. InfoSys was the only one that had the Chair/CEO roles already split. As with Ixia, InfoSys hired an external candidate.
  • Collaborative Transitions from Co-CEOs to Sole CEO at SAP and Workday.
  • New CEOs Strengthening their Teams: Microsoft and CA’s CEOs made significant changes to their companies. Satya Nadella, an insider with Bill Gates as his mentor,  at Microsoft moved almost immediately. Michael Gregoire at CA, moved more carefully, having been in the seat a year.  Microsoft also made significant board changes while CA did not change the board.   Blackberry’s new CEO is attracting talent from his former Sybase (now SAP)

Trend 8 – Cloud, Cloud and More Cloud… Some Mobile, Big Data/Analytics: Every other announcement whether included or not, refers to the cloud it seems, in every single functional area. Some companies, like VMWare are distinguishing with announcements in the Hybrid Cloud.  Others, like Rackspace, in a CEO succession, have made less pronounced cloud announcements. 

Trend 9 - The Year of the CTO -  Merry Go Rounds & Promotions: Corporate CTOs appointed in 2014, include GE Software, eBay Enterprise, VMWare, EA and Microstrategy.

New CTOs and Departures include:

  • CTO/Eng Merry Go-Rounds:   GE Software recruits from VMWare and IBM;  eBay recruits from Salesforce, Yahoo! from Box and Netflix; SAP from Microsoft; EA from eBay,Google from Red Hat, Oracle from Google/Snapchat,Rackspace from eBay, Infor from SAP and QAD, Square and VMWare from Amazon.
  • Twitter sees many departures in the engineering and product ranks, including a newly hired google product exec.

Market oriented CTOs emerge more visibly: Adobe recruits an Apple/NeXT exec, FireEye from Symantec, and VMWare from Gartner Group.

CTOs /CIOs Take On New Roles as  CEOs, Boards and Chief Strategy Officers:InfoSys ‘s new CEO was SAP CTO and Chief Software Architect; Intel's Security CTO becomes President & COO at Bluecoat Systems, inc. Amazon  ‎Head of Enterprise Strategy, AWS is  Dow Jones CIO; CIO of Bechtel is Citrix as SVP and Chief Strategy Officer; CIOs and CTOs Increasingly take On Board Roles at Yahoo, Intuit, Iron Mountain, Splunk

We are not covering this topic in depth in this newsletter. For more information, our blog covers these appointments in detail.

Trend 10 – Unexpected Hires From Outstanding Companies - Outstanding companies often make hires that are not expected: google hired the Red Hat CTO, Intel hired a CMO from Staples; Citrix and Amazon promoted CIOs into Enterprise strategy roles; Microsoft hired the C orporate VP of Consumer Channels Group  former Chief Commercial Officer of Best Buy.

Also, of note in 2014, there were a large number of international appointments, the vast majority in Asia Pac.

For more information, please see the full 2015 Update

Read 3820 times Last modified on Saturday, 08 August 2020 20:31
Dora Vell

Dora Vell is the Managing Partner of Vell Executive Search, a boutique executive search firm in Boston focused on recruiting technology executives and board members. Vell has successfully completed numerous board member and C-level executive searches, including CEOs, COOs, CIOs, and Vice Presidents - at both public and private companies.

Prior to founding the firm in 2005, Vell was a Partner at Heidrick & Struggles' Technology practice for seven years.  Before her career in executive search, she worked at IBM for 11 years, managing software engineering organizations of 100 people and software sales organizations with revenues of $150 million. She has also served as an executive assistant to the CEO of IBM Canada for one year.

Vell holds seven worldwide software patents. She has published several Business of Leadership reports on governance and leadership and has been quoted in numerous articles including 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 also has been a featured speaker on leadership at numerous conferences and at Columbia University's MBA program.

Vell is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), the Boston CEO Roundtable. She has served on the boards of Framingham State, Entrepreneur's Organization, Goodwill, Mary Centre for developmentally handicapped adults,, and RBC Capital Partners.

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

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