2014 May CEO Report: 10 Percent More CEOs Out Over Last Year

98 CEO CHANGES IN MAY; 558 CEO EXITS THIS YEAR UP 10%

The pace of turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers was virtually unchanged in May, as 98 CEOs announced their departures during the month, according to a report issued Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The May total was up 4.3 percent from the 94 CEO departures recorded in April. It was down 5.8 percent from the 104 CEO changes announced the same month a year ago.

Through the first five months of the year, US-based companies have announced 558 CEO changes, 10.1 percent more than the 507 CEO exits tracked in the first five months of 2013.

Government/non-profit entities, which include universities, foundations, and chambers of commerce, led last month in CEO departures with 21. The NAACP announced a new leader in Cornell William Brooks, and the AARP appointed COO Jo Ann Jenkins.

Health organizations came in second for number of CEO departures with 20. So far this year, 125 health care CEOs have vacated their offices. That is nearly 32 percent more than the number health care organizations announced through May 2013.

California-based organizations saw the heaviest CEO turnover in May with 13 top executives announcing their departures. Texas and New York, meanwhile, announced 8 CEO changes a piece. Pennsylvania-based companies announced 6 exits, while Massachusetts recorded 5.

Retirements were the leading cause for departures in May with 24, while another 22 cited “resignation” as the reason for their exits. Twenty-one CEOs stepped down into other positions in the company, usually as chairman or other chief-level executive. Three CEOs were ousted from their positions.
Perhaps the most notable CEO departure last month was that of former Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who stepped down in the wake of the data breach that compromised millions of credit card and debit card accounts of holiday shoppers.

“While the data breach occurred nearly five months before Steinhafel’s departure, his exit was somewhat sudden and, according to reports, left the company without a clear succession plan. Steinhafel had been in the top spot since 2008, guiding the company through the aftermath of the Great Recession. It could be difficult to fill the post, particularly in light of the fact that several other major retailers are in the hunt for new chief executives,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.