CEO Turnover Flat Last Month, Down 15% in 1Q

According to a recent report from global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number of chief executive officer changes remained virtually unchanged in March.

CEO turnover through the first quarter was down 15%, compared with the same period last year, while 99 CEOs departed last month, up slightly from 92 in February.

“Changes at the top of the organizational chart are not always tied to the economy,” said chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, John Challenger. “Many companies have achieved business success by maintaining stability at the top, while others change CEOs whenever a new operational strategy is initiated.”

So far this year, a total of 287 CEO changes have been noted, compared with 340 in the first three months of 2010. The health-care industry saw the greatest CEO turnover in March, with 16, followed by the government and non-profit sector with 12. The financial sector had 34 CEO changes in 2011 thus far, including 11 in March. The technology industry, on the other hand, has seen little change in CEO turnover, the report states.

Most CEOs cited resignation as their reason for leaving -- 85 for the year. Fifty-nine chief executives retired, 57 stepped down from their respective posts but remained with the company, and 23 found new positions at other companies, and 21 CEOs ended their interim periods.

Other reasons for turnover included mergers, which claimed nine positions, and scandal, which led to 6 departures. One CEO was fired, the consultancy reported.