change of guard

The new CEOs on the block in 2023

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of companies appointing new leaders and their respective to-do lists

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Kasper Rørsted is set to move from Puma to Adidas
Kasper Rørsted is set to move from Puma to Adidas

The new year is bringing a wave of new leadership in the corporate world.

Leadership changes show a company is in want of new energies and vision, but they can be unsettling. Among the changes that usually follow and lay offs, organizational reshuffles, and revamped strategies. The perception of the new boss may also move the stock for the better or for the worse.

But a smooth transition is possible if CEOs take time to understand their role, listen and learn from other executives and subordinates, and forge a clear strategy.

As several big companies welcome new CEOs on Jan. 1, here’s a non-exhaustive list looking at new appointees and their to-do lists:

Adidas: Bjørn Gulden

Brief profile: The Norwegian executive succeeds Kasper Rørsted at the German sportswear brand fresh off a nine-year stint at rival Puma. During his time as Puma chief, Gulden helped lift annual sales by over $5 billion annually. The former professional soccer player has built a solid corporate resume having served as CEO of jewelry brand Pandora and managing director at shoe retailer Deichmann SE, and held multiple management positions at clothing maker Helly Hansen.

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Start date: Jan. 1, 2023

The CEO’s to-do list: 

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One reaction to Gulden’s appointment:

“To me, Bjorn is the right guy for the right time. It’s a great day for the Three Stripes. It needs a fresh start.” —Eric Liedtke, the former Adidas exec who revived the Stan Smiths, ushered in the Pharrell Williams-influenced Superstars, and helped introduce Ye’s Yeezy line.

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Maersk: Vincent Clerc

Brief profile: Clerc is currently the Danish shipping giant’s chief of ocean & logistics, and has been with the company for 25 years. Throughout that time, the Swiss citizen born in 1972 has held several senior positions, including chief trade and marketing officer and chief commercial officer.

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Start date: Jan. 1, 2023

The CEO’s to-do list: 

  • Keep costs down as Maersk buys up warehouses and distribution centres to offer an end-to-end transportation service rather than just container shipping
  • Help Maersk become climate-neutral by 2040

One reaction to Clerc’s appointment: 

“Now is the right time for Maersk, for Vincent and for me to make this transition. The company has executed very well over the past years. We have never been stronger financially and we have an inspiring and visionary plan for the continuation of our global integrator strategy that will guide Maersk for many years to come.” —Outgoing chief Søren Skou 

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Warner Music Group: Robert Kyncl

Brief profile: Before WMG, Kyncl served as the Chief Business Officer at YouTube, where he’s been for 12 years. Before that, he was at Netflix for seven years. For one month, he’ll serve as co-CEO with current WMG chief Steve Cooper before going solo. At the third-largest major music label after Universal and Sony, Kyncl is poised to bag $15 million in his first year on the job, depending on performance targets.

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Start date: Jan. 1, 2023 with Cooper; Feb. 1, 2023 on his own

The CEO’s to-do list: 

One reaction to Kyncl’s appointment:

“Robert is the right CEO to meet this moment. His command of technology to serve creativity will unlock new opportunities at scale for artists, songwriters, and their teams. He sees over the horizon to find ways to make world-class entertainment accessible for all.” —Len Blavatnik, founder and chairman of Access Industries

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Penguin Random House: Nihar Malaviya

Brief profile: After the publishing group lost an antitrust case blocking its merger with Simon & Schuster, CEO Markus Dohle announced he’d step down by the end of the year. Nihar Malaviya, president and chief operating officer of Penguin Random House US, was tapped to replace him and was appointed interim CEO. In his current role, Malaviya is responsible for supply chain, strategic project management, data science and market analysis, IT, and client services.

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Start date: Jan. 1, 2023

The CEO’s to-do list: 

One reaction to Malaviya’s appointment:

“Nihar Malaviya is an outstanding leader and an entrepreneurial publishing professional who knows Penguin Random House inside out. As the person responsible for all operational publishing processes in the US as well as the implementation of a global tech and data agenda, he has played a major role in the company’s success and created sustainable competitive advantages for Penguin Random House globally. With his deep understanding of the global media landscape and publishing industry, he will continue to develop the company and invest in its expansion, both organically and through acquisitions.” —Thomas Rabe, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, the media conglomerate that owns PRH

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Person of interest: Under Armour’s new CEO Stephanie Linnartz

On Dec. 21, Under Armour announced that Stephanie Linnartz will join the company as president, CEO, and member of its Board of Directors, effective February 27, 2023. Linnartz comes to the American sportswear company from the world’s largest hospitality company, Marriott International, where she serves as president.

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“She is a proven growth leader with a distinguished track record of brand strategy, omnichannel execution, talent acquisition and development, and passion for driving best-in-class consumer connectivity, experience, and brand loyalty,” Kevin Plank, Under Armour executive chair and brand chief, said about the new appointee.

Why Linnartz’ CEO appointment matters

Linnartz is an anomaly in the sea of incoming CEOs who are almost all men—this is not a deviation from the corporate world’s standards. After all, a mere 6% of CEOs at S&P 500 companies are women. Fortune 500 companies are also largely led by men.

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There’s a few reasons for the leadership gap. For one, gender biases are keeping women from pushing themselves and keeping others from recognizing their full potential. Then there is the impact of responsibilities such as performing family duties and childrearing. A study showed women tend to be older and have to show more experience compared to their male counterparts to bag a seat at the corner office. Another revealed women hold the top jobs for a shorter time—female CEO tenures average at over 6.3 years compared with 8.4 years for men, data from research firm exechange comparing 20 departing female CEOs and 300 departing male CEOs show.

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Other notable change of guards in US companies in 2023

👬 Salesforce’s Marc Benioff isn’t a new CEO, but so far, he’s always had another person to share the job with. But the exit of his co-CEO Bret Taylo is going to mark the beginning of a solo shift for him.

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🔷 A few days after Taylor’s departure, Salesforce-owned Slack’s CEO Stewart Butterfield decided to step down. Lidiane Jones will take over. Jones, the product whiz who spent years at Microsoft and Salesforce, was highly endorsed by Butterfield in an internal memo as “right at that little diamond-shaped heart in the four-circle Venn diagram of Smart, Humble, Hardworking, and Collaborative.”

☕️ In April, Laxman Narasimhan will take over from Howard Schultz, who was serving as Starbucks CEO for a second term. The veteran comes armed with nearly 30 years of experience at consumer-facing brands, most notable Pepsi.

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💳 Visa announced Ryan McInerney will be the new CEO effective Feb. 1, 2023

🛢️ Wael Sawan, currently director of integrated gas, renewables, and energy solutions at Shell, is due to assume the CEO role on Jan.1, 2023. His appointment is still subject to approval by the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM).

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✈️ Thai Airways, which reportedly got over 50 applicants, picked its chief financial officer Chai Eamsiri to be the next CEO.

👀 Last but not the least, with Elon Musk’s Twitter poll calling for him to step down means Twitter’s looking for a new CEO.

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