2011 Year-End CEO Turnover Report

Download the report here.(PDF)

The end of 2011 saw continued slowdown in CEO turnover as 83 chief executives left their posts in December. For the year, 1,178 CEOs left their posts, down from 1,234 announced departures in 2010, according to the year-end report on CEO turnover from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The 83 December CEO departures was one more than the 82 exits tracked in November.  Last month’s total was 22 percent lower than December 2010, when 107 chief executive departures were recorded.

Over the final three months of 2011, 256 CEO changes were announced.  That is a 19 percent decline from the previous quarter and marks the lowest quarterly total of year.  In fact, it represents the lowest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2004, when CEO departures reached just 147.

The healthcare sector saw the highest CEO turnover in 2011 with 187 changes, down from 201 in 2010. The government sector, which according to Challenger tracking saw the most job cuts this year with 183,064, had the second highest turnover in 2011 with 152 changes, virtually unchanged from 2010’s 159.

The financial industry ranked third in CEO turnover with 123, 5 in December. This figure is down slightly from 124 changes in 2010.

“The uncertainty surrounding the financial sector has certainly translated to leadership changes over the last couple of years. In addition to a weaker economy, the government enforced oversight into how bailout funds are handled, many federal credit unions or small local banks needed to bring in new leaders to comply with the regulations,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The tech sector, which saw many notable CEO changes this year including Carol Bartz of Yahoo!, Eric Schmidt of Google and Steve Jobs of Apple, ranked fourth in CEO changes with 116, seven of whom left in December. The 2011 year-end total for the computer industry was up 27.4 percent over the same period in 2010 when 91 tech industry CEOs left their posts.

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