January 29, 2020

Corporate Board Member – Vanishing Act In The Corner Office

When the board fired McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook in November over his rule-breaking personal relationship with an employee, directors had a successor ready in Chris Kempczinski. It wasn’t just luck that enabled the board to elevate its president of U.S. operations to the company’s top job immediately upon the sudden end of Easterbrook’s four-year stint as CEO. After 15 years of dealing with a jarring series of unforeseen departures by leaders, the fast-food giant’s board was well-versed in handling unexpectedly short-tenured CEOs.

“McDonald’s is a poster company for emergency CEO succession,” says Paul Winum, co-head of board and CEO services at leadership development firm RHR International. “They’re so planned and thoughtful about it.”

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