CEO Succession

Advising on the most critical leadership decision a company must make

At a time when companies need to master fundamental transitions – digitalisation, sustainability, performance improvement – effective leaders have never been in higher demand. And appointing a new CEO is likely to be the single most important people decision that most Boards and Owners will ever have to make. Put simply: this is too important to get wrong.

CEO Succession is a process not an event – we help you navigate the challenges and plan ahead

To successfully manage a CEO Succession process, companies should take a structured and proactive approach, assess internal contenders (and manage the dynamics of competition), tap into the external talent pool, benchmark internal versus external talent, understand “what good looks like” – and assure the alignment and buy-in of stakeholders on the ideal CEO profile needed for the next stage of the company’s evolution.

We serve as experienced, impartial and discreet advisors to Chairs, Nominations Committees and Owners/Investors – helping them to plan and execute CEO transitions successfully. This includes:

  • Aligning stakeholders around the ideal CEO profile and succession strategy in line with the business needs.
  • Assessing internal candidates objectively (both in terms of readiness and potential) and benchmarking versus best-in-class talent in the market.
  • Conducting a systematic, rigorous and discreet international/global search to identify and evaluate world-class candidates – and bring them to the discussion table.
  • Advising on and facilitating compensation / contract negotiations.
  • Devising a tailored Onboarding & Integration programme to ensure a good landing and a successful start to the CEO’s tenure during the critical first 90 days.
‘Big talent, small ego’ – helping find the right CEO to fit the unique culture of family businesses

The ideal profile of an external executive for a family business should include not only appropriate experience but also specific skills and relevant competencies in key areas. This might include the ability to initiate change, to modify a business model or to bring about a true customer focus across a large organisation. Apart from entrepreneurial and social abilities, the skill most critical to success is the ability to work well within the specific environment of a family business. This is probably the central competency that differentiates suitable from unsuitable executives for family businesses. In our experience, the majority of external executives do not fail because of functional shortcomings; they are hired on competency, fired on chemistry. We understand the unique ‘Family Business Spirit’ – and help family businesses recruit outstanding talents who fit their entrepreneurial cultures.

Insider or outsider?

The choice of whether to make an internal or external appointment is often a difficult, and sometimes an emotional, dilemma – especially for businesses where family members may be in the management, or where a founder or shareholder is the incumbent CEO. We help owners and Boards to make the decision that is right for their business: assessing the current and future/looked-for state of the company, and the type of mission (both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’) which the CEO must accomplish.

AvS – International Trusted Advisors work across different industries and sectors but focus on privately held companies with owners that aim at long-term/sustainable business performance. If you are interested in finding out how we can support you in your CEO succession planning, please reach out to us.