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…

How to Retain Good Talent? Make the Grass Greener in Your Organization

Even in a job market that favors the employer, it can be incredibly difficult for organizations to retain good people, especially mid-level executives. Career-minded professionals move around more than in the past and see value in exposing themselves to different challenges and working cultures.

Is it worth even trying to keep good mid-level talent in such an environment? David Boggs, practice leader of WK Advisors—a Witt/Kieffer division that…

Who Will Fill Your Shoes? Best Practices for Hiring a Successor

Any conscientious executive knows the value in naming and developing a successor. Given enough time and mentoring, your understudy can learn the ropes, gain critical experience and, when the time is right, take over your responsibilities in what is hopefully a seamless transition. Such leadership succession planning is good for the organization, not to mention the fact that it reflects well upon your own legacy.

David Boggs, practice leader of

Success Story: In Arizona, Revamping a Hospital Board in 5 Months

In 2010, three large healthcare organizations merged to become the University of Arizona Health Network. Among the immense governance challenges created was that the UAHN board of directors became an “amalgamation” of 27 members from the three organizations—dysfunctional from the start, according the Steve Lynn, the board’s current chairman.

One factor playing into this was that the way in which the organizations were brought together was not accepted by all board members, many of whom took their gripes to parties…

Where Will Your CEO Be in Three Years?

Last month, Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson announced that he would be retiring—effective December 2013. The fact that he has announced his retirement more than a year in advance of the actual date of departure is significant. How many healthcare organizations have the luxury of 14 months to find and transition in a new CEO? For all major strategic planning—a category CEO succession planning certainly falls under—Halvorson advises fellow CEOs to look…

For Hospital Board Succession Planning, Creativity Counts

Even the best hospital and health system boards are challenged to find new members. While traditional skills such as accounting and finance are still highly valued, boards increasingly need individuals who understand, for example, population health, evidence-based medicine, and even information technology and social media.

“Board members with proven clinical experience in quality measurement and performance improvement are especially prized,” Jim Gauss writes on “As the healthcare landscape and its financial incentives are transformed,…

Building Diversity in Healthcare Administration: Women’s Perspectives from the C-Suite

Guest post by Wendy L. Brower McLeod

Like the patients they serve, a hospital’s executive staff should come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures: women, men, old, young. Multiple countries of origin. Building diversity in healthcare organizations is critical to ensure that the needs of all patients are being met, and that these organizations are employing the best within their communities.

Sharon O’Keefe, President of the University of Chicago Medical…

CEO Succession Planning: Helping Boards Prepare for a Smooth Transition

It is the dread of every hospital board of directors across the country: an esteemed, longtime CEO announces the intention to resign. A replacement must be found, and the transition—as perceived by patients and the community—must be seamless. With foresight, however, executive transitions need not shock the system, and effective CEO succession planning can give your hospital or healthcare system an opportunity to explore alternative philosophies, practices, and even new strategic directions.

Is it really necessary?

With so many priorities demanding…