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Insights by Stanford Business Is Your CEO Irreplaceable?
Corporate Governance
A new survey highlights a tough CEO talent pool and which business leaders would be nearly impossible to replace.
October 6, 2017 | by Bill Snyder

CEO salaries are higher than ever. But finding the right person to fill that job is harder than ever, especially when a board must replace a visionary founder.

The market for top-flight talent is now so tight that nearly 100 directors of Fortune 250 companies estimate that fewer than four people — including those both inside and outside their company — would be capable of stepping into the CEO role today and running it at least as well as their current CEO, according to a survey by researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University.

“I have never seen the CEO labor market tighter. With traditional industries such as retail, restaurant, and packaged goods under such pressure to transform, the pool of available candidates is small. There is no such thing as ‘stepping’ into a CEO role,” one of the directors told the researchers.

“These findings have profound implications for talent development and CEO compensation,” says David Larcker , the James Irvin Miller Professor of Accounting at Stanford Graduate School of Business, who led the research. “How you groom senior executives, how you plan for a CEO transition, and how you structure CEO pay really hinge on just how available replacement talent is.”

The survey, conducted this summer, queried 113 directors and 18 executive recruiters and compensation experts.

The shallow pool of top-flight talent was evidenced by the difficulty major companies, including Symantec, General Electric, Walt Disney, and Uber, have had replacing their chief executives, says Nick Donatiello , a lecturer in corporate governance at the business school. Walt Disney, for example, recently extended the contract of CEO Robert Iger for another year as it struggles to fill the top job. Symantec has gone through four CEOs in the past decade. “Frankly, there is a lot of pressure on directors to get it right. This likely results in directors being risk averse, which of course only serves to narrow their view of who might be acceptable,” says Nicholas Donatiello, one of the researchers in the study.

In another harbor, a team of engineers and researchers are planning a ring-shaped skyscraper that will generate three times more energy than it needs, a world-first for a high-rise. “In small buildings, with solar photovoltaics on the roof, it’s quite easy to make an energy-neutral building,” says Duzan Doepel, partner and founder at DoepelStrijkers , the firm creating the building, called the Dutch Windwheel . “But when you’re talking about a building with more than 60,000 square meters, it becomes a completely different story.”

The inner circle of the building will use a new form of wind technology that generates power silently, without moving parts. Organic waste from the apartments inside will generate biogas, sending power back to the apartments. Solar panels will add more energy. All together, the hybrid system will produce energy on a scale that usually happens on wind or solar farms outside cities. The building will be self-sufficient.

Floating in yet another harbor, dome-shaped pavilions host events. Near the port, architects are planning a floating hotel, and a Zales LabCreated White Sapphire and 1/6 CT Tw Diamond Three Stone Bypass Ring in Sterling Silver 33J6HA6T
will soon test new floating technology. An artist built a “forest” of floating trees . A new neighborhood of floating apartments will open in 2017 in another harbor.

The projects are partly a way to make use of available space; harbor areas that were once used for shipping are now empty. In the 1970s, when the oil crisis shut down parts of the port, many workers were laid off and left the city. By the early 2000s, ports in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, and other Asian cities had overtaken Rotterdam in size. The port, while still huge, became a smaller part of the local economy. Because newer, massive container ships also couldn’t fit in the old harbor areas, commercial shipping started to consolidate on new areas of reclaimed land next to the sea. That left empty spaces that the city wanted to fill, and room for the inventive plans that are happening now.


“When the port activities moved, they left a very large inner city area which offers huge chances for redevelopment,” says Verhoeven. “Those areas are right in the city center–very strategic locations.”

The city ports, called Stadhavens Rotterdam , left 1,600 hectares of abandoned space available for use. As the city invested in redevelopment, one of its strategies is to focus on experimentation in new designs for climate change and sustainability–including the new floating infrastructure. On brownfields next to the water, the city has also started turning old industrial buildings into cleantech hubs. Former harbors are now city-driven innovation districts.

Throughout the city, the abundance of open space has also helped drive experimentation by giving creative people a cheap place to work. As the shipping industry moved, it left huge empty warehouses next to harbors throughout the city–places where entrepreneurs or designers could easily find affordable space to rent. After the last financial crisis, even more vacant space opened up.

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July 2016

@Risk-Filled Routine By Melanie Pita For The Record Vol. 28 No. 7 P. 24

@Risk-Filled Routine By Melanie Pita For The Record Vol. 28 No. 7 P. 24

Carelessly sending PHI via e-mail can carry serious consequences.

The handling and sharing of medical records is a critical and sensitive issue, one that affects millions of providers, patients, and payers every day. E-mailing patient records has become commonplace, but what's often overlooked is that failing to encrypt protected health information (PHI) is directly at odds with HIPAA requirements, subjecting the covered entity to substantial risk.

Although unlikely, there is an opportunity for PHI sent in the body of, or attached to, an unencrypted e-mail to be intercepted and used by parties other than the intended recipient. Exchanging records by e-mail can mean exposing patients' personal information and entire medical histories to a nefarious world of hackers seeking to exploit such data. Consequently, the possibility of such data breaches occurring can keep many a compliance officer awake at night.

Keais Records Retrieval, a third-party vendor, gathers patient records from health care providers with the patient's permission. The company works with insurance carriers/adjusters and law firms to gather medical, business, and other record types to help evaluate insurance claims and lawsuits.

Keais works with more than 95,000 medical record custodians nationwide each month to request patient records. Thousands of patient medical records, billing histories, diagnostic images, and other related information are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to its office each day. E-mail is a popular option because it is widely available, easy to use, and has a "send it and forget it" appeal. Part of my responsibility as Keais' general counsel and chief compliance officer is to ensure that our employees undergo mandatory annual HIPAA training and are frequently reminded to never e-mail patient records or other correspondence containing PHI outside our encrypted environment. Keais' hard stance on security has rubbed off on employees, who often point out that the record custodians from whom we obtain PHI may be taking a risk by e-mailing such information.

In the past decade, the reliance on e-mail has grown significantly from both a business and personal perspective. It's more convenient than ever, with nearly 70% of American adults owning a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. E-mail has become such a normal part of our daily routine that we tend to forget it's not always secure. This is a particularly important concern when health care and HIPAA are introduced into the mix.

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