Media Alert: If You Think COO’s are a Vanishing Breed…(Think Again)

Sep 1, 2011

The role of chief operating officer among Fortune 1000 companies is alive and well despite recent reports touting its demise, according to researchers from Georgia Tech and Heidrick & Struggles. “Reports of the COO’s death are greatly exaggerated,” says Stephen A. Miles, vice chairman with Heidrick & Struggles and co-author of “Riding Shotgun: The Role of the COO.” “In fact, the COO role continues to be a very strategic position for companies – particularly when it comes to offering seamless leadership transitions from one CEO to the next,” added “Riding Shotgun” co-author Nate Bennett.

Survey Background:
Miles along with Bennett, a professor at Georgia Tech’s College of Management and James Lemoine, doctoral student at Georgia Tech analyzed CEO succession data for Fortune 1000 companies from 2009 and 2010. Their findings support a different conclusion than reports, such as the annual “Volatility Report” from the search firm Crist/Kolder Associates, that suggest a decline in the COO role.


    Among the (96) companies in the Fortune 1000 who appointed a new CEO in 2010, (35) selected its COO as the successor, and four chose another company’s COO for the top slot.
    A separate analysis of the 2009 CEO succession data shows that when companies did not take their new CEOs from the COO role, they were over 160 percent more likely to maintain or recruit for a COO.
    An analysis of news stories and business press releases referencing COOs showed that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of these reports touted the hiring of a new COO, 27 percent of which involved the creation of a new COO position.
    65 percent of those reports mentioning a COO departure indicated the COO had been promoted to CEO.

WHO: Stephen Miles, Vice Chairman, Heidrick & Struggles

To learn more about our findings, please contact the following team members:

    Jen Nelson, Global Marketing Director 404.682.7373 C - 678.387.7323 or
    Lia Morreale, Marketing Manager 312.496.1788 C - 312.731.4003 or

About Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.
Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., (NASDAQ: HSII) is the leadership advisory firm providing executive search and leadership consulting services, including succession planning, executive assessment, talent retention management, executive development, transition consulting for newly appointed executives, and M&A human capital integration consulting. For almost 60 years, we have focused on quality service and built strong leadership teams through our relationships with clients and individuals worldwide. Today, Heidrick & Struggles’ leadership experts operate from principal business centers globally. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit 

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