Case study

CEO Succession Process With A Global Property and Investment Business


The Board of a successful Global Property Investment Business had instigated a long-term CEO succession process.

Key objectives were to:

  • Anticipate the long-standing CEO’s departure
  • Maximize the chances of an internal successor
  • Ensure the right successor was selected to deliver the company’s future vision
  • Ensure an objective process that minimized risk

Challenges included:

  • Aligning the Board around future direction and implications regarding CEO requirements at a time when the company was re-examining its business model.
  • The Board were concerned about whether their existing service provider could be truly independent and objective in their advisory.
  • The Board appointed YSC to take over as CEO succession advisors to support the remaining 2 years of the end-to-end process. YSC was appointed for our objectivity, developmental impact, global scale and credibility at ExCo and Board levels.

Identification and acceleration of potential successors against future requirements including:

  • Facilitating Board alignment regarding the strategic direction and implications for CEO characteristics that underpinned the succession process
  • Conducting in-depth assessments with every member of the top team to ensure a fair, inclusive process
  • Tailored coaching to accelerate progress against development plans and aligning expectations between potential successors, the CEO and the Chair
  • Rigorous benchmarking and a calibration process from an independent Managing Director to ensure objectivity of judgments and global consistency
  • Supporting the CEO to help them to develop talent while remaining objective
  • Measuring progress and providing regular updates to the Board

Bias reduction and risk mitigation involved:

  • Advice to the Board about potential biases and how to minimize them
  • A light touch external search to calibrate internal candidates with the market

Decision-making and transition planning included:

  • Advice on the final decision-making process
  • Advice on communication with candidates to ensure on-going commitment and retention
  • Support of the incoming CEO to accelerate their transition
    • The process was underpinned by multi-layered global advisory to the Chair, Board and CEO to facilitate the effectiveness of the process, ensure alignment and that best practice was embedded.

The impact was measured in a number of ways:

  • The Board considered it a robust, fair and objective process.
  • YSC’s advisory helped to assess potential and capabilities, and accelerate development.
  • The Board was able to accurately track progress over two years, which provided a key data point in evaluating candidates. Over the course of the program, the successful candidate had accelerated their development, enabled in part through leadership coaching with YSC.
  • The Chair had confidence in YSC’s insights and data; they helped to inform difficult choices and nuanced trade-offs about candidates in light of a somewhat reshaped view of what the company required.
  • The Board considers it a successful appointment, borne out by the CEO’s performance.
  • The company successfully retained key talent and minimized unwanted turnover.
  • Through the process, YSC also helped to identify longer-term CEO succession talent.