April CEO Turnover Plunges 39%;
YTD Up 14% Over 2018

Published May 2019

Employers at U.S.-based companies announced 97 chief executive officer changes last month, 39.2% lower than the 135 CEO changes announced in March, according to a report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Related: CEO Exits at Highest YTD on Record in April 2022

April’s total was 11% lower than the 109 CEO exits announced in the same month last year. In total, 513 chief executives have left their roles this year, up 14% from the 450 CEOs who announced their departures in the first four months of 2018.

“The churn we have been experiencing at the top since last August, with monthly totals well higher than average, seems to have cooled, at least for the moment,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Job cuts announced by U.S. employers also slowed in April, suggesting the record expansion we’ve seen this year may be in a holding pattern, as companies take a wait-and-see approach,” he added.

Challenger tracks CEO changes at companies that have been in business for at least two years, with a minimum of ten employees.

Industries with the Most Leadership Change

Companies in the Government/Non-Profit sector announced the most CEO changes in April with 19, followed by Health Care/Products companies, which announced 14 departures. Companies in the Technology sector, which includes software, mobile application development, and computer hardware firms, announced 11 CEO changes in April.

Financial companies announced 8 CEO changes in April. Meanwhile, the Energy sector announced 7, bringing the year-to-date total in that industry to 21, 162% higher than the 8 CEO changes announced at Energy companies through April 2018.

Reasons for CEO Exit

“The good news for CEOs looking for new opportunities is that there are plenty of jobs available for those with a high-level skill set. Companies are reporting a skills gap, especially in leadership,” said Challenger.

The average tenure for an outgoing CEO was 8.8 years in April, the lowest average tenure for a single month since November 2016, when CEOs were in their roles for an average 8.3 years.

Through April, 202 chief executives stepped down into other positions within the company, usually as a Chairperson or other member of the C-Suite. Another 150 CEOs retired, while 45 found new positions in other companies. Six CEOs reportedly left due to scandal this year, while 3 left due to professional misconduct allegations. Another 3 left due to alleged sexual misconduct.

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Contact Colleen Madden Blumenfeld for more data or to set up an interview with SVP Andy Challenger.

Contact Challenger for Media Inquiries


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