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Archive: CEO watch

Apple's elephant in the room

I don't think Apple should be forced to reveal its succession plan--as long it has one in place--it could still choose to be more forthcoming on the status of one of its most critical assets.

By Jena McGregor | February 24, 2011; 10:35 AM ET | Comments (5)

Can Arianna Huffington hold onto that founder's drive?

What may be the more interesting question is how this deal will play out for Huffington. She'll end up far richer, of course. But will she be able to retain the sense of urgency and entrepreneurial zeal that got her site where it is now?

By Jena McGregor | February 7, 2011; 01:32 PM ET | Comments (24)

FCIC report: What if the SEC paid like Goldman Sachs?

If regulators were incented to stop fraud and prevent future financial apocalypses on the same scale that traders were rewarded for selling worthless derivatives, we'd surely be in a very different place today. The best talent coming out of our best universities might not immediately be shipping off to Wall Street, but to Washington instead.

By Jena McGregor | January 28, 2011; 09:11 AM ET | Comments (28)

The real question to ask GE's Immelt about chairing the jobs council

How on earth will he have the time? This is a man who already runs one of the largest corporations on the planet, with some 300,000 employees and operations in more than 160 countries. Not only is he CEO of GE, but he is chairman of its board of directors too. Immelt is also on the board of The New York Federal Reserve Bank.

By Jena McGregor | January 24, 2011; 09:54 AM ET | Comments (8)

Google: Rekindling that start-up mojo

When a founder returns to the helm, one thing is usually behind it: The company has become too big or too bureaucratic, and it's looking to rekindle some of that start-up magic. Google has said as much. In its announcement, Schmidt said the company was looking to make its management more nimble, a hallmark of entrepreneurial cultures.

By Jena McGregor | January 21, 2011; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (0)

Behind the curtain: Besides Jobs, Apple's other leaders

Taken together, the top brass at Apple is likely to keep the company humming during Jobs' absence and manage the company quite well, at least in the short term. Over the long haul, however, many Apple observers question whether any of these leaders has the same capacity to inspire the sort of game-changing technology and design feats for which Jobs is so well known.

By Jena McGregor | January 18, 2011; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (5)

Revealing Apple's succession plan?

In a sense, this debate--should Apple reject the pension fund's proposal to make succession plans public--is similar to the bigger one, on whether or not the company should share more about Jobs' health condition. Jobs' right to medical privacy matters, just as the company's right to keep its succession plan private is one worth protecting.

By Jena McGregor | January 18, 2011; 09:38 AM ET | Comments (4)

Jobs' medical leave creates uncertainty for Apple, investors

Of course, I wish Jobs a speedy recovery, and do believe in a certain amount of respect for privacy as a family goes through an illness. But I also believe leaders have a responsibility to share as much information as possible, even if that means giving up some of their own privacy. That's especially true at a company where one person is so central--whether in reality or in perception--to the company's future.

By Jena McGregor | January 17, 2011; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (5)

Finally, merit pay for auto workers?

A pay structure that only rewards seniority or job description does not do much to encourage people to work better, smarter and more efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Rather, it rewards people solely for sticking around. And as GM and Chrysler try to get out from under the government's investments, they will need their people--all of their people--to do a lot more than that.

By Jena McGregor | January 14, 2011; 10:07 AM ET | Comments (24)

CES: Tech throws a party, and Apple stays home

The more interesting question is whether attending CES would actually hurt the mystique of Apple's brand. Theoretically, even if the company attended the annual trade show that wouldn't mean it had to launch its latest iPad there, or divulge big news at the Las Vegas event.

By Jena McGregor | January 6, 2011; 10:26 AM ET | Comments (34)

As SEC said to investigate Hurd, gray areas for HP's board

Who knows what Hurd told Fisher, and what his relationship with her really was. What intrigues me is the debate the board reportedly had about what to disclose from Fisher's letter, including the claim that Hurd shared details on inside deals. It's a legal gray area, the Journal reports. On the one hand, Fisher denied trading on the information in her initial letter, which means the board may not be required to report it. But Hurd's revelation, if the allegation is true, may also be a breach of fiduciary responsibility, according to legal experts.

By Jena McGregor | December 21, 2010; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's CEO meeting: 'Uncertainty' an excuse for hoarding profits?

CEOs are increasingly saying that it is uncertainty over the economy and regulations that is prompting them not to spend, or invest toward hiring, the nearly $2 trillion in cash on their books--the highest amount in half a century.

By Jena McGregor | December 15, 2010; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (11)

Pfizer's CEO resignation: Fatigue sets in

But with such a cult of celebrity built up around top leaders--not to mention the rich compensation they receive--it's easy to see why they get involved in doing so much more. Maybe if CEOs were paid in more equitable terms, they wouldn't feel as much of an obligation to work the inhuman hours and keep up with the insane travel schedules that they, their companies and their shareholders seem to believe will help justify the riches they earn.

By Jena McGregor | December 6, 2010; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (0)

Barry Diller's atypical exit

But by saying "this company needs" those qualities in its CEO, readers could easily infer that he thinks the company doesn't have them now. Also odd is the comment that "it's been clear" to him "for some time" that the company is in need of this kind of leader. Unintended or not, the comment will read to some as if Diller hasn't been giving 110 percent, and as if he's known that to be the case for a while.

By Jena McGregor | December 2, 2010; 12:58 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bush and Zuckerberg: Leadership soul mates?

George W. Bush and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may not seem like they have a lot in common. One is a mid-60s former leader of the free world who famously called the Web "the Internets"; the other is a hoodie-wearing, twenty-something entrepreneur who runs one of the world's fastest growing technology companies.

By Jena McGregor | November 30, 2010; 12:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

Corporate profits hit highest record, so why aren't business leaders creating jobs?

This is not an economics blog, so I won't delve into the financial and policy details of whether it's government's or business's job to, well, create jobs. (It's both, of course.) But it is a leadership blog, and what's quickly becoming a fair question is whether CEOs are showing much of it at all when it comes to taking risks that lead to job creation.

By Jena McGregor | November 24, 2010; 07:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

What Warren got right

What Warren got right isn't necessarily the pick. It's the approach. For one, he's actually naming someone before he gets too old or too infirm to carry out the job. That may seem obvious, but so many companies don't get the simplest of all succession rules down. All too often, succession planning is something that happens after lightning strikes--be it performance woes, an embarrassing boardroom scandal or an unexpected illness or death.

By Jena McGregor | October 26, 2010; 10:45 AM ET | Comments (3)

Why BP's new bonus plan won't work

n an email, Dudley told employees that fourth-quarter bonuses would be based solely on the company's safety record, including "reducing operational risks" and "excellent safety and compliance standards." While existing bonus performance metrics would be honored for the first nine months of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports, safety will be the only measure for the fourth quarter. The problem? It won't work.

By Jena McGregor | October 20, 2010; 11:37 AM ET | Comments (0)

The hubris of Steve Jobs

I'm all for CEOs being a little more candid when it comes to discussing their competition. Some go out of their way to avoid even saying their rivals' names on the record (which can sound ridiculous), much less openly criticizing them. But there is such a thing as too much hubris--even for a company with results as stellar as Apple's--and a healthy respect for competitors should be something in every leader's lexicon. Most at least pretend they have it.

By Jena McGregor | October 19, 2010; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (23)

Apotheker? The HP head scratcher

Maybe it's a strategic stroke of genius, but I still think the decision is a head scratcher. Apotheker didn't have a great record at SAP, albeit during a rough time for the company. The more hierarchical German corporate culture is worlds away from an organization like HP, which helped give birth to Silicon Valley's dynamic innovative spirit.

By Jena McGregor | October 1, 2010; 02:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Rating BP's management shakeup

New BP CEO Robert Dudley has not even officially started in his new job, and already he's making big changes. The incoming leader, who takes over Friday as CEO of a company struggling with the aftermath of a record oil spill, is ousting entrenched leaders, restructuring the organization and reassessing how employees earn their pay.

By Jena McGregor | September 30, 2010; 10:41 AM ET | Comments (5)

Decoding Hurd's move to Oracle

The expected course for Mark Hurd would have been to leave the public company limelight altogether and camp out running a private equity owned technology firm. He'd rake in millions in the process, on top of his already lucrative severance package, and the press would forget all about Jodie Fisher, the contractor at the center of the scandal. Then, a few years from now, some public technology firm would be on the search for a corporate savior, at which point Hurd could ride back into Wall Street's spotlight, make a quick turnaround, and be the hero once again.

By Jena McGregor | September 6, 2010; 11:01 PM ET | Comments (8)

The best way to rein in CEO pay

I'd argue that the only way executive pay will ever be reined in is to have a say not just on what CEOs make but also on the boards who are making the decisions.

By Jena McGregor | August 25, 2010; 07:41 PM ET | Comments (84)

HP's Hurd: Other execs have his back

The belief that Hurd should still be CEO is a reminder that for many executives, performance trumps all. Hurd's reputation as an operations whiz--the company posted yet another strong quarter today, with an 11% jump in revenues and 6% boost in profits--is unlikely to diminish much in the eyes of his peers, no matter how many dinners he had with an actress/"marketing contractor" or how many expense reports he incorrectly filed.

By Jena McGregor | August 18, 2010; 09:41 PM ET | Comments (3)

Trouble on the horizon for Dell CEO?

But votes like this have a way of starting to erode that support. Twenty-five percent may not seem like much in Washington, but in the boardroom, that's a sizable lack of investor confidence. Patrick McGurn, a special counsel for ISS, told the Journal that "anything over 20% is something that boards take notice of."

By Jena McGregor | August 17, 2010; 08:11 PM ET | Comments (0)

Mark Hurd's departure leaves successor in doubt

Hurd was only 53, had only been in the role since 2005, and was doing such a remarkable job that it's almost understandable why a successor didn't immediately appear in the wings.

By Jena McGregor | August 9, 2010; 10:28 AM ET | Comments (0)

HP CEO Mark Hurd allowed to resign: No severance?

Hurd may have been just another CEO (and there are far too many) who let ethics slip in the face of power. But if HP's board wants to boost integrity in the C-suite at HP, and ensure pride and strong morale among its employees, it has a big role to play, too. It should start with the next chief's pay package.

By Jena McGregor | August 8, 2010; 10:26 PM ET | Comments (2)

Do CEOs Make Good Politicians?

In my mind, what matters most is what the government job demands, and whether the CEO's personality and experience is a match for it.

By Jena McGregor | August 3, 2010; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (2)

BP CEO Dudley: No shadow to step from

Leadership experts believe the hardest career move is succeeding a celebrated, charismatic chief, while your best bet is coming after a certified dud.

By Jena McGregor | August 2, 2010; 12:09 PM ET | Comments (1)

Tony Hayward: When disgraced CEOs have a bright future

Tony Hayward's chances at running a large public multinational again are about as likely as his successor's at skimming every ounce of oil from the surface of the Gulf, but that doesn't mean he won't stage a comeback.

By Jena McGregor | July 26, 2010; 01:16 PM ET | Comments (13)

BP's next CEO: The joy of filling Tony Hayward's shoes

Three years may not be enough time to turn around the company's culture, but it is enough time, rightly or wrongly, to be blamed for it.

By Jena McGregor | July 26, 2010; 07:29 AM ET | Comments (5)

CEO watch: Will BP chief Tony Hayward resign?

My own reporting on management shakeups tells me that whether Hayward has 10 weeks or 10 months, it's rarely a good sign when company spokespeople have to start saying the CEO has the full support of the board.

By Jena McGregor | July 21, 2010; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (0)

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