Home » Utilities » Case Studies » Case Study #5947

Utilities Case Study

Case #5947: CEO Succession Selection and Transition

A large regional gas and electric utility holding company had enjoyed unprecedented success under the leadership of its CEO: dividends raised, stock value appreciated, two major mergers successfully concluded, among other accomplishments. Its charismatic and popular CEO had held the reins for almost fifteen years and was approaching mandatory retirement age with no clear successor identified.

Some members of its Board of Directors were of the opinion that it was necessary to go outside for a successor CEO while the current CEO felt that not only was such a move unwarranted, it would be a repudiation of his tenure, the company's talent identification and development practices and its strategy.

Having enjoyed a long, close relationship with the company through years of providing executive coaching as well as business process improvement services, Questas was engaged to assist the Board, through its Compensation & Nominating Committee, in the selection of a successor CEO.

A Questas partner worked with senior company HR executives and the Chairman of the C&N Committee to structure and then implement a process for objective investigation, analysis and decisionmaking that resulted in the unanimous selection of one of two final internal candidates as the successor to the incumbent CEO, the creation of a transition timeline and milestones, the realignment of the organization design, and the provision of support to the incumbent and successor organization to assure a smooth and orderly transition.

Engagement Highlights

  • Industry:
  • Natural Gas Distribution, Electric Generation & Distribution
  • Client:
  • A Large, Regional Energy Utility Holding Company
  • +/- 2.5 million Natural Gas Customers and +/- 1 million Electric Customers
  • Assignment:
  • Create consensus among Board members regarding Internal vs. Outside Successor CEO
  • Assess and Differentiate between leading Internal Candidates for CEO Succession
  • Gain Board agreement on selected Candidate, Timing and Organization Design
  • Create workable Transition and Executive/Organizational Stabilization Plans
  • Provide support to Executives in Transition
  • Approach:
  • Develop Strategy, Approach, Process and Timeline for Succession Decisionmaking
  • Define CEO Profile and Competencies required by Company and its Business Strategy
  • Orient Board Compensation and Nominating Committee Members
  • Conduct and Document Interviews with Executive Vice Presidents
  • Conduct and Document Interviews with Internal CEO Candidates
  • Facilitate debrief of Interviews by Comp & Nominating Committee
  • Conduct Comp & Nominating Committee meeting with incumbent CEO
  • Formulate Committee recommendations to Board of Directors
  • Develop Transitional Roles and Responsibilities Definitions between Incumbent and Successor CEO
  • Formulate Transition Plan, Communications Plan, and Executive Development Plans
  • Perform Executive Coaching in support of CEO Succession & Organization Transition
  • Duration:
  • 6 months with Comp & Nominating Committee; 12 months of Executive Coaching


  • Fully aligned Board and Executive Management Team regarding CEO Succession
  • A more informed Board and Committee Members due to Process Employed
  • Sarbanes-Oxley compliant Governance and Succession Process Utilized
  • A clearly defined Transition Timeline is in place for CEO Succession
  • An effectively functioning Office of the Chairman leading the Corporation

Related Case Studies