For Healthcare CEOs, Times of Turmoil and Turnover

Healthcare CEO turnover is at an all-time high—20 percent in 2013, as compared to a historical average around 15 percent, according to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Witt/Kieffer senior partner Donna Padilla, speaking recently to Deanna Pogorelc of MedCity News, but does suggest a general turmoil and transformation taking place across the industry.



Developing the Next Generation of Chief Diversity Officers in Higher Education

By Lucy Leske and Oliver Tomlin

The role of chief diversity officer within colleges and universities has blossomed and evolved over the years. It has gone from being a primarily tactical position to a strategic one, requiring a much more multifaceted skill set than in the past. “The successful diversity leader needs negotiating, diplomatic, communication, and analytical skills in addition to educational credentials,” we



Executive Development: Turn Supporting Roles into Starring Ones

Mary Barra’s hiring as General Motors’ CEO earlier this year was significant not just for the fact that she became the first female chief of a major automaker, but also because she took an atypical path to the top. In her more than three decades with GM (starting as an intern!), she worked in various executive roles across different functional areas—even those areas considered non-strategic. In 2009, a tough time for the firm, she accepted the position of VP…



Readers’ Choice: Witt & Wisdom’s Top 13 for 2013

2013 was a year of tremendous growth and change in healthcare, higher education, academic medicine, the life sciences, IT, not-for-profit, and the other industries we serve, giving leaders in those areas plenty of challenges. While Witt & Wisdom strived to cover trends and transformations along these many fronts last year, the following 13 blog posts were, according to our click data, the most widely read. (We’ve listed them in chronological order by publication date).



CEO Compensation Strategies: Getting Literal about Incentives and Severance

Healthcare CEOs are used to having various incentives built into their compensation packages. Traditionally, however, these incentives related loosely to the organization’s financials, or if a measurement related to institutional quality, it tied primarily to patient satisfaction.

No longer, says Andrew Chastain, managing partner of Witt/Kieffer’s Southern Region. Today’s healthcare executive compensation packages are about “literal outcomes,” he says. Boards use compensation strategies that involve…



CEO Transition: What HR Execs Need to Know

Most every organization craves a dynamic, larger-than-life figure as its CEO—a person who instills confidence, motivates, and carries forth a vision for success. The CEO needs to be someone who can build a large, loyal following among employees.

But what happens when the CEO is let go? The larger the persona, the more loyal the following, the harder it is for the organization to transition to a new CEO at the helm. A classic example is when Men’s Wearhouse founder George…



Healthcare Succession Planning: A Go-To Guide

Guest post by Charles (Chuck) W.B. Wardell, III, President and CEO

Rarely a month goes by in the healthcare world when we don’t hear about a high-profile CEO or other top executive stepping down. Even in those cases in which the retirement is predictable or unsurprising, organizations are often unprepared to take decisive next steps in choosing new leaders. In the throes of healthcare reform or major projects and initiatives, they often push succession planning to the back burner.

What many…



Life Sciences Executive Search: Best Practices in CEO Transitions

In his 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline, in particular as head of Human Resources, Dan Phelan played an integral role in the company’s most significant leadership transitions. This included the successful CEO hand-off between J.P. Garnier and Andrew Witty in 2008. Witty, promoted from within, has proven to be one of the more dynamic leaders in the industry.

In the following interview, Phelan looks at the question of whether to pursue internal or external candidates in a life sciences executive search, and…



In Healthcare, Is There a Link between Good Talent Management and ROI?

Although today’s healthcare organizations have well-developed talent management practices, few have an in-depth understanding of the return on investment these practices provide. To better gauge this ROI, Witt/Kieffer has supported the work of Pepperdine University professor Kevin Groves, Ph.D., who recently conducted a comprehensive survey of senior HR officers and other industry executives in charge of talent management within their organizations.

Dr. Groves’ work explores and draws conclusions regarding several critical issues:

  • There is a strong connection between good talent management…


CEO Transitions: A Time for Boards to Be Heroic, Too

In The Hero’s Farewell, author Jeffrey Sonnenfeld outlines four distinct typologies among retiring CEOs: the monarch who must be forcibly removed; the general who leaves reluctantly and plots a return; the ambassador who leaves gracefully yet still lends support; and the governor who willingly departs and moves on to other pursuits.

Fortunately, notes Paul Bohne, Witt/Kieffer Senior Vice President, CEO transitions today mostly feature ambassadors and governors. Yet no matter how gracious and…