Chief Executive Officers are a special breed of business professionals who have made it to the top of their game. Whether they started the company, inherited the role, or worked hard from the ground floor.
Within this special membership of business professionals, its own hierarchy system exists. Collectively, CEOs will tell you it’s a high-stakes endeavor with growth, people, and profit as the top challenges they face. The average CEO tenure is approximately ten years, with some serving longer, especially if they founded the company.
Recently, there have been significant changes in the C-suite in some of America’s most highly visible companies. While some, like Ford CEO Jim Hackett, who became caught in the wrath of the 2020 economic story, others made moves to power their organization’s next step harmoniously and with the support of their Boards and peers. Most do not disappear into the black hole of retirement. Instead, many successful CEOs contribute back somehow to their former company or our nation’s economy and social well-being.
Interestingly, more than a quarter of past Fortune 500 CEOs become active in private equity. Some choose to serve on public boards or go on to teach at some of the nation’s most well-respected universities. Others are called upon to lead the front lines to power the next sales and customer implementation level, like generals in battle leading the front-line charge. A few notable CEOs have stepped away from the C-Suite but continued to serve the company in other capacities at the height of their success.
Larry Ellison, Oracle
American business magnate and investor, Larry Ellison, co-founded Oracle and spent 37 years as CEO. In 2014, upon stepping down, he took on the role as executive chairman and Chief Technology Officer. This shift away from the helm allowed Ellison to focus on one of the more important aspects of Oracle, which has traditionally been technology. As a technical and business genius, Ellison can focus on leading Oracle to continue adapting to the most advanced technology available.
Steve Jobs, Apple
Enigmatic tech innovator, Steve Jobs, served as CEO of Apple from 1997 to 2011. Though battling illness that would eventually take his life, Jobs remained connected to the creative and technological aspects of Apple products along with major strategic decisions. Jobs was instrumental in post-leadership product launches including the iPad, iCloud, and Siri.
Robert Iger, Walt Disney Company
In early 2020, Robert (Bob) Iger made news when he stepped down as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company. Iger will continue to serve as the company’s executive chairman and direct Disney’s creative content and endeavors.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, which has turned into a $1.6 Trillion global mega-retailer. It was announced this year that Bezos will step down as CEO but will continue to serve as the executive chairman of the Amazon board while staying engaged in important Amazon projects.
Kendra Scott, Kendra Scott Jewelry
In early 2021, Kendra Scott announced she would be stepping down as CEO of her namesake jewelry business that she founded nearly twenty years ago. She continues to hold a majority stake in the brand with a net worth of $510 million. Scott will remain involved with her brand, focusing on design, the customer journey experience, and a portfolio of philanthropic endeavors.
Reshma Saujani, Girls Who Code
Reshma claims to be a big believer that leaders should not stay in organizations indefinitely for the sake of continuous innovation. Effective in April 2021, the Girls Who Code founder and CEO stepped down from the C-Suite to become Chairman of the Board.
Greg Brady, One Network
The recent member into this rarified club includes Greg Brady, who founded One Network Enterprises. He launched the company in 2002 after leading i2 Technologies to high growth and market leadership during a seven-year tenure, both as CEO and head of worldwide operations. Mr. Brady, called ‘the smartest guy in supply chain,’ was one of the first to understand the limitations of traditional enterprise-centric software applications. Brady orchestrated the world’s first real-time demand-driven multi-enterprise platform in the cloud. This enterprise platform effectively managed end-to-end supply chain processes and powered hundreds of millions of dollars in enterprise savings. His leadership and bottom-line results have led One Network to be one of the most respected organizations in the world.
After significant success as founder and CEO of One Network, Mr. Brady moves to the front lines to drive more substantial revenue implementation growth of the company he built. As the company’s visionary, Mr. Brady’s active role in sales and strategic customer implementations will focus on growing significant margin growth and realize the promise of true digitization of the entire supply chain and unlock for major brands an enormity of financial savings growth, and margin opportunity.