CEOs Continue to Head for the Exits

June 3, 2002 ( month chief executive officers left their positions in record numbers according to a study by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Since May 80 CEOs have left their positions, a 48% increase over April when 54 CEOs left their posts. However, May’s numbers were only slightly lower than May 2001 when 84 CEO changes were recorded. The study also noted that so far in 2002 there have been 315 CEO departures, 33% lower than the 473 in the first five months of 2001. 

Meanwhile, the study indicated that the financial sector was particularly hard hit, perhaps as a result of the increasing scrutiny over practices in the financial industry. Chief executives from the financial sector accounted for 15 departures in May. CEOs from the technology sector came in a close second, at 13.

At the same time, the average tenure of departing CEOs increased in May to 9.2 years, up from 8.5 years in April.  Overall, in 2002, the average tenure of outgoing CEOs stands at 10.3 years, nearly twice as long as the average tenure of 5.7 years in 2001.

Among the reasons for departures, the study noted that 24 CEOs left their positions for unspecified reasons and 21 retired. 19 CEOs resigned while 8 stepped down.