2014 October CEO Report: 122 Exits Include AMD, JC Penney, Gap

Turnover among the nation’s chief executive officers remained virtually unchanged in October as 122 planned CEO departures were reported, 1.6 percent fewer than 124 September, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The October total was up 17.3 percent from the same month a year ago when 104 were recorded. This marks the seventh month in which CEO changes outpaced the same month last year.
Challenger has now tracked 1,131 CEO changes so far this year, 7.4 percent more than the 1,053 departures announced in the first ten months of 2013.

The health care industry continues to lead all sectors with 258 CEO departures in the third quarter, 26 of which occurred in October. The financial sector announced 20 CEO changes, bringing the year-to-date total to 127. Meanwhile, twenty CEOs left their posts from government/non-profit entities, 169 for the year.

Retailers, while not among the top industries in terms of announced CEO departures, rank 7th in terms of year-over-year increase in CEO turnover. The 41 CEO changes in the industry, to date, are up 37 percent from 30 announced departures at this point in 2013. Retailers have also seem some of the most notable changes, including last month’s announcement that JC Penney will bring in outsider Marvin Ellison to revamp the struggling department store chain. Ellison comes from Home Depot, where he served as president of North American stores and was credited with a much improved in-store experience that led to stronger financial results.

Meanwhile, Lisa Su becomes the latest woman to head up a Silicon Valley tech firm, as she takes the helm of Advanced Micro Devices from Rory Read, who departs amid financial troubles for the semiconductor manufacturer. Earlier this year, Susan Wojcicki took over as CEO of Mountain View-based YouTube.

“Since Marissa Meyer’s ascension to CEO of Yahoo in 2012, there were perhaps higher expectations for more women to break into the executive suite within the tech sector. Unfortunately, the industry, which has long been criticized for its male dominance, has been slow to meet those expectations. Of the 137 CEO changes we have tracked within the computer, electronics and telecommunications sectors, only 10 of the outgoing CEOs were replaced by women,” noted John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The heaviest CEO turnover has occurred in California, where 142 exits have been recorded so far this year, including 12 last month. Texas ranks second with 92, and Pennsylvania has seen 65 CEO exits to date.

Retirement was the most oft-cited reason for departure in October, with 38 CEOs, bringing retirement to 282. Another 29 CEOs resigned, while 24 stepped down into another chief-level or board position last month. Eleven CEOs found new positions in other companies, and two were ousted.