Highest Number of Monthly CEO Changes on Record

Paul Ausick

For some of the 154 CEOs who left their jobs last month, August may replace April as the cruelest month. According to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the number is the highest monthly total of CEO changes on record, just nudging out the previous high of 152 departing CEOs in September 2006.

August’s total represents a year-over-year jump of 60% and a month-over-month increase of 64%. For the first eight months of the year, 879 CEOs have left their jobs, 15% more than for the same period last year.

In all of 2017, a total of 1,160 CEOs left their jobs, down 7% from the prior year’s total of 1,248. Of the total, 11 were due to allegations of sexual misconduct, up from three in both 2015 and 2016.

Vice- President Andrew Challenger noted:

Companies are battling for talent in the current environment. Those that have taken the tax cuts and expanded operations are finding themselves in need of people to run these organizations. Others are reaping the benefits of strong consumer spending. Meanwhile, some companies are dealing with uncertainty in the markets, disruptions in technology, or fallout from impending tariffs. Regardless of the reason, boards need strong talent with specific skill sets and are looking to make these changes now

So far this year, 152 women have left CEO jobs. Of the total 716 announced replacements, 161 (24%) are women, according to Challenger tracking. Through August last year, 18% of replacement CEOs were women — 119 women out of a total of 656 recorded replacement CEOs.

Challenger noted that 20 CEOs left for new jobs at other companies in August. That’s 24% of all such CEO changes for the year to date. This could be signaling rising demand for C-suite talent the firm said.

According to Challenger, three CEOs were terminated from their positions in August, bringing the year-to-date total to 13. Scandals have forced out another 10 in the first eight months of the year.

Of the CEOs who have departed in 2018, 249 retired and 131 resigned, while 84 found new positions with other companies. A large number of the departing CEOs, 250, stepped down to other positions in their companies, either as board members or another C-level executive.

The government/nonprofit sector has experienced 170 CEO changes so far this year, of which 25 occurred in August. The total represents a 31% year-over-year increase.

In the computer industry, 99 CEOs have left their positions including eight in August. For the first eight months of the year, CEO departures are up 60% compared to the same period last year.

California companies have seen the highest number of CEO changes this year with 100, 16 of which occurred in August. Companies in Texas saw 13 departures last month, while Pennsylvania reported 12 CEO changes last month and New York reported 10.