DTE Energy (NYSE:DTE) said Friday its current chief operating officer, Gerard M. Anderson, will take the reigns of chief executive from long-time mentor Anthony F. Earley, Jr.

The natural gas and oil company said Earley, 61, will stay on board as executive chairman of the board and will serve as a full-time employee with particular focus on external relationships.

The board elected Anderson, 52, to the position Thursday afternoon. He became a member of the board last year.

Earley said the board has been for years preparing for the executive swap, noting the company is both “gratified and delighted” by the move.

Anderson has served as DTE Energy’s chief operating officer since 2005. He first joined the company in 1993 as vice president of its non-utility businesses and became executive vice president of DTE Energy in 1997.

Earley, who joined the company in 1994, serving at CEO since 1998, will advise Anderson on strategic planning activities and share responsibility for community and governmental relations and other external issues.