April 2021 Outgoing and Incoming CEOs

Published May 12, 2021

U.S. companies announced 133 CEO changes in April, up 177% from the same month last year, when 48 CEOs left their posts, according to a new report released Wednesday by global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Last month’s total is up 19% from the 112 CEOs who left their posts in March. So far this year, 440 CEOs have left their posts, down 10% from the 489 CEO changes tracked through the first four months of 2020.



Challenger Analysis

“Last April, as companies were navigating how they were going to manage their workforces and what the pandemic-induced lockdown would mean for operations, companies held fast to their leaders,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“After a year, many companies have a completely new way of doing business, supporting remote work and offering new and different benefits to their talent. Couple that with a new administration with different priorities, and companies are turning to new leadership for this phase,” he added.

Which industries saw the most CEO turnover?

CEO turnover is led by Government/Non-Profit entities, which include charities, foundations, school systems, transportation authorities, and other government-funded entities. This sector announced 77 CEO changes through April, down slightly from the 78 announced in the same period last year.

Another 63 CEOs left Health Care/Products firms, 54% higher than the 41 who left through the same period last year. Technology firms announced 42 CEO changes, down 37% from the 67 chief executives who left tech companies through April 2020. Consumer Products companies have announced 21 CEO changes, up 133% from the nine CEO changes in the first four months of 2020.

Why did CEOs leave?

The majority of CEOs (144) stepped down into other roles this year, usually as a Board Chair or other C-Level executive. Another 108 retired, while 33 found new opportunities. Thirteen CEOs left due to an acquisition or merger, three left due to differences with the Board, and four were terminated.

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

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