Battley: Top Turnaround CEOs of 2012
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo
At 37, Mayer is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Her arrival at Yahoo in July signaled the third CEO transition in three years for the struggling company. Her central challenge is to figure out the company's big picture strategy: what, exactly, is Yahoo? So far, she has shuffled executives and focused on improving Yahoo's culture. She made her first acquisition of Stamped, a start-up focused on mobile products, in October. Yahoo recently refreshed its board of directors, adding PayPal co-founder Max Levchin as a member.
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Hubert Joly, Best Buy
Frenchman Joly became CEO of the struggling electronics retailer in August after his predecessor Brian Dunn was forced out for personal misconduct. His immediate action items - to cut costs, improve customer service, create a better online experience - were nothing new. Instead, his focus has been on successful execution. Meanwhile, Best Buy co-founder and former Chairman Richard Schulze still has time to make a buyout bid. This holiday season's performance will be an important indicator of his capabilities to reverse the company's steady decline to online stores and discount competitors.
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Meg Whitman, Hewlett-Packard
Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and Republican candidate for Governor of California, took the reins of this monumentally troubled company in September. Soon thereafter she warned that a turnaround of the company would take four to five years, with profits continuing to decline for at least another year. She now has another mess to tackle: HP's $11 billion Autonomy acquisition fiasco. Is this massive turnaround a "mission possible or impossible"?
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Only one of these "Turnaround CEOs," RIM's Thorstein Heins, was promoted from within. Meg Whitman was a board member of HP before becoming chief executive. The others were external hires with proven track records and prestige corporate pedigrees. Except for AIG's Benmosche, we will have to wait and see how all their plans and efforts play out in the new year.
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Susan Battley, PsyD, PhD, is the founder and CEO of Battley Performance Consulting, a strategic leadership advisory firm that works with world-class CEOs and boards. A psychologist and management consultant, her expert commentary on CEO effectiveness and trends has been featured on TV and her articles have appeared in leading publications, including Oxford University Press and Leader to Leader.