C-Suite Variations: Q&A With Russell Reynolds Associates' Anthony Abbatiello

Anthony Abbatiello, who leads the global Leadership & Succession business at Russell Reynolds Associates, speaks on succession planning for “chief”-level executive posts—the so-called “C-suite.”

Global Finance | December 9, 2019

The Global Finance article, "C-Suite Variations: Q&A With Russell Reynolds Associates' Anthony Abbatiello," features an interview with Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Anthony Abbatiello on the C-suite and succsion planning. The article is excerpted below.

Global Finance: How has the role of a C-suite leader evolved?

Anthony Abbatiello: The C-suite really began in the post WWII era. From then until the 1980s, it was hierarchical; the CEO as the general and a CFO focused on financial results. The 1980s and 1990s brought an era of functional specialists; the CFO drove the financial vertical and built deep expertise in the function. Today calls for a Renaissance-style variety of capabilities, with business a team sport requiring collaboration and inspiration at the top. C-suite leaders set strategy, influence and build teams, and while they may drive a functional specialty, like human resources, technology or finance, they also collaborate and connect on critical issues like sustainability and the future of work.

GF: How has the succession process changed? 

Abbatiello: Leading organizations are starting succession much earlier than in the past. We’re seeing C-suite succession projects commencing three to five years out, starting with a contextual analysis of the company followed by assessment of internal candidates, 1-2 years of development and then completing with transition support post-appointment. With shorter CEO tenure, boards need to start preparing for succession almost immediately upon hire.

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