2019 brought a surge in CEO turnover

From January through November, CEO departures reached 1,480, up 12 percent from the same period a year prior, according to a report from executive outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas. 

The departures represent the highest total the firm has reported for January through November since it began tracking CEO turnover in 2002. This year's departures through November are also just below the 1,484 CEO departures tracked in full-year 2008. 

"Several factors are contributing to the high rate of CEO turnover. One is a strong economy and high demand for C-level skills are attracting CEOs to new positions. Another is the ongoing uncertainty surrounding trade and regulations while emerging technologies continue to disrupt almost every industry," Andrew Challenger, vice president of Challenger Gray & Christmas, said in a news release. 

"We are also tracking companies that are demanding accountability in their CEOs' professional and personal lives. Any behavior unbecoming to a company's brand is pretty quickly followed by a resignation announcement," Mr. Challenger said.

CEO departures this year included Alphabet's Larry Page, United's Oscar Munoz, Expedia's Mark Okerstrom, Harold Hamm of oil producer Continental Resources, and Steph Korey of luggage company Away, Fortune reported.

As CEOs depart, companies are increasingly looking externally for replacements. There were 718 external CEO replacements and 545 internal ones, Challenger Gray & Christmas reported. The firm said its tracking had not shown more external replacements than internal since 2013.

Most CEOs who left their roles through November this year CEOs (882) took other positions at their companies or retired. An additional 138 found new jobs elsewhere; 127 resigned; and 109 departed without giving an official reason, according to Challenger Gray & Christmas. 

Twenty-two CEOs were terminated, and 36 departed amid a merger or acquisition. Four CEOs left amid allegations of professional misconduct. 

Read the Fortune report here and Challenger's report here.


More articles on executive moves:

Maryland medical center names Brian Bailey CEO
Children's Hospital of Michigan CEO departing for Michigan Medicine
7 recent hospital, health system CFO moves

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