Six days after financial services company Merrill Lynch reported a record $8.4 billion loss, CEO Stan O’Neal announced his retirement. Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince also stepped down as his company announced its own $8 billion hit. Time Warner, meanwhile, said that CEO Dick Parsons plans to retire next month.
Time has promoted President and COO Jeff Bewkes to CEO. But no permanent replacement CEOs have been named at Merrill or Citigroup, leaving employees at each wondering what might happen to their jobs and their projects.
IT projects at big companies may be more insulated than those at smaller companies, says Paul Groce, head of the CIO practice at executive recruiter CTPartners in New York.
That’s because major technology efforts, like big trains, are hard to slow down once they’ve begun, he says. “Things will run along until the new chief dictates a new direction.”
As CEOs turn over, “there’s going to be concern about the future of the organization and there’s always the risk of losing key talent,” says Vincent Milich, director of the IT effectiveness practice at Hay Group, a management consulting firm in New York.
CIOs can use the uncertainty to their advantage, Milich says. “You represent continuity in leadership. The organization will value that and look to compensate you for that with a retention bonus.”
Some say CIO r