Board Directors and Chief Executive Officers

2018 Q1 Fortune 500 CEO transitions


No. 2s make their debuts

The first quarter of 2018 brought several key CEO transitions across the Fortune 500. Looking across all of them, it's easy to spot a common thread: Many were newly minted CEOs who previously held senior roles at large organizations.

Some of these new CEOs may also have decided to move away from their former companies when executive shakeups didn't go their way but, regardless, all were lured to their new companies by the chance to tackle big problems and change the future of some of America's largest companies.

Of the 500 companies featured in the June 2017 Fortune list, minus those that have since been acquired, Russell Reynolds Associates tracked ten CEO transitions during the first quarter of 2018:

  • Effective January 15, 2018, Charles Blankenship moved from General Electric to aluminum products manufacturer Arconic. Blankenship had been at GE for 24 years, most recently having led its aviation commercial engines operation. His move also comes as GE undergoes a broad shakeup under its new CEO. Arconic has been locked in a protracted battle with activist investors, which ultimately led to the resignation of Blankenship's predecessor. After Blankenship's hiring, Arconic's shares jumped 4.5 percent.

  • Jan Zijderveld, formerly the president of Unilever's European business, became the CEO of Avon Products effective February 5, 2018. His hiring came after a nearly six-month search that, just days before the new CEO was named, had activist investors clamoring for a new leader. Zijderveld, a 30-year Unilever veteran, will be Avon's first male CEO since 1990, in sharp contrast to most other Fortune 500 companies, where 95 percent of CEOs are male. The hiring comes as Avon spun off its declining US business and moved its headquarters to London in an effort to focus on international growth. Zijderveld's international experience will be critical in this environment, and Russell Reynolds Associates' research has shown that global experience is increasingly important among new CEO hires.

  • Chevron's CEO John Watson retired in February of 2018 after eight years at the helm. Vice Chairman Mike Wirth was named as his successor back in September of 2017 after a careful succession process. Wirth brings experience from the cost-cutting world of refining and over 35 years of experience at Chevron.

  • Former GameStop CEO J. Paul Raines, who left the company in November 2017 for medical reasons, died in March. Michael Mauler took over the reins from interim CEO and co-founder Daniel DeMatteo in February of 2018. Mauler brings almost 13 years of experience working at GameStop and international experience from his time as the president of GameStop's international business.

  • L3 Technologies, an aerospace communication systems provider, named its COO Christopher Kubasik as the company's next CEO with current CEO Michael Strianese retiring. Kubasik had been the COO of L3 Technologies for three years before he stepped into the CEO role. Previously, he has spent time as the COO of Seabury Advisory Group LLC and Lockheed Martin Corporation. He was also the CFO at Lockheed Martin. He brings a deep understanding of the company's financial health as well as the effectiveness of their day-to-day operations.

  • Upon the announcement of Matt Simoncini's retirement from Lear, Ray Scott was announced as the next CEO effective March 1, 2018. Scott developed Lear's strategy by refocusing on their E-Systems business to bring it to profitable growth and transformed the automotive seating business. As a longtime Lear employee of over 29 years, he has a deep understanding of the company and where their future strategy is taking them.

    In September of 2017, Sealed Air Corporation elected Edward Doheny II as the next CEO, effective January 1, 2018. Doheny was previously the COO of Sealed Air and spent several months transitioning with former CEO Jerome Peribere before fully assuming the CEO role. Before Doheny joined Sealed Air, he was the CEO of Joy Global Inc., spending 11 years with them.

    In a statement, William Marino, chairman of the board of directors of Sealed Air, described Doheny's qualifications as "[A]n experienced and transformational leader with a proven ability to drive profitable innovation-based growth strategies. The board is confident that Ted is the right person to lead the next generation of growth and we look forward to his leadership."

  • James "Sandy" Douglas left his role as the president of Coca-Cola North America to become Staples' new CEO, effective April 2, 2018. The new CEO appointment comes less than a year after private equity firm Sycamore Partners bought Staples for $6.9 billion. Although Douglas, who had been at Coca-Cola for 30 years, was considered a candidate for the beverage company's top job, the company appointed its head of European operations to the role in 2017.

    In a statement, Staples Executive Chairman John Lederer praised Douglas' multidisciplinary experience. "Sandy has extensive experience across multiple function areas including sales, marketing, merchandising and operations," he said. "This well-rounded experience makes him an ideal leader for Staples." The wisdom of acquiring a broad base of experience has been borne out in Russell Reynolds Associates' research, which shows that cross-functional expertise is increasingly in demand during new CEO searches.

  • Andrew Rebholz was named the CEO of TravelCenters of America LLC on January 1, 2018, bringing over 20 years of experience with the company. His most recent role as the executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer gives him an in-depth understanding of and experience with TA's financial health.

  • Steve Oakland became the CEO of private-label food company TreeHouse Foods effective March 26, 2018. Before taking the helm, Oakland was vice chair and president of US food and beverage at The J.M. Smucker Company. Oakland, age 57, brings deep sector expertise to TreeHouse as it continues an ambitious cost-cutting campaign. His hiring sent its stock up more than 5 percent.

These new CEOs look much like their Fortune 500 colleagues in that they are all male. See the sidebar for the updated profile of the Fortune 500 CEO.

By the Numbers

Russell Reynolds Associates analyzed 489 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and found:

  • Average age: 58.6 years old

  • Percentage of male CEOs: 95%

  • Percentage of internally promoted CEOs: 74%

Average annual cash compensation: $4,075,433 (data available for only 408 companies). Female CEOs earned an average of $3,440,307, just 84% of what their male counterparts took home.


n of Executives​Average Age​Externally Hired Internally PromotedAverage Annual Cash Comp
​Quartile Avg. Age (years)FemaleMaleExternally HiredInternally Promoted



Jenna Fisher leads Russell Reynolds' Global Corporate Officers Practices. With more than a decade in executive search, her clients range from Fortune 1000 corporations to middle-market private equity portfolio companies and highly visible, pre-public venture capital–backed enterprises. Her expertise lies in recruiting CFOs and Board directors and Audit Chairs. Jenna is frequently cited for her expertise in leading business publications, including The Wall Street Journal.

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2018 Q1 Fortune 500 CEO transitions