Torrance Memorial's succession plan 'left nothing to chance'

Keith Hobbs spent nearly three years acclimating to Torrance (Calif.) Memorial Medical Center before becoming its CEO, according to a Feb. 13 blog post from the hospital. 

Craig Leach — who had served as the hospital's CEO for 17 years — left big shoes to fill when he retired on Oct. 31. Mr. Hobbs' first day at the helm, Nov. 1, was "a major milestone in Torrance Memorial history, to be sure," according to the blog post. 

"But for the hospital community at large, it was a perfectly normal weekday in a carefully planned, seamless transition of leadership," the post continued: "Nothing had been left to chance."

Mr. Hobbs joined the hospital — a 512-bed affiliate of Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai — as executive vice president in March 2021. He was "hand-picked" by Mr. Leach and identified by the executive search firm Spencer Stuart; when he left the helm of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, Calif., he knew that he would eventually take Mr. Leach's place. 

Mr. Leach calculated that two years would be enough time for his successor to "to really get to know the culture of the organization, to fit in and build relationships," according to the blog post. Mr. Hobbs led a number of projects at the hospital, including the planning of a new ambulatory surgery center, the expansion of laboratory outreach programs, and a growth strategy for the physician network, before he was officially promoted to "president" in February 2023. 

When Mr. Hobbs became CEO in November, he had been an integral part of the health system and its executive suite for nearly three years, the blog post said. That familiarity made the transition as seamless as could be, according to the hospital's board chair, Greg Geiger. 

"It's hard replacing a trusted, longtime leader like Craig Leach, but the task was made easier with Keith Hobbs as the candidate," Mr. Geiger said. "We already know what kind of leader he's going to be because he's been here for a few years. We have all the confidence in the world in him."

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