When someone gets appointed CEO of a major company, there are usually a number of hopefuls who are passed over. If they’re internal executives, the snub likely stings, but they also become attractive candidates for other companies looking for a leader — especially since they’re unlikely to land the top job at their current employer any time soon.
Here are some execs who lost out on, or got pushed out of, the top job at one company, only to rise at another, making their former employer think twice about the decision it made.
David Cote, CEO of Honeywell
Of the executives who lost out to Jeff Immelt in the race to succeed Jack Welch at General Electric, Cote has been the most successful. He’s actually outperformed Immelt as the head of Honeywell, a large defence contractor, where he’s created a tightly streamlined corporation out of what was a random group of companies.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase
Along with his mentor, then CEO Sandy Weill, Dimon built CitiGroup into a massive behemoth in the 1990s. He was widely expected to succeed Weill as CEO of the company, but depending on which account you listen to, he either wanted it too soon or started butting heads on other issues. Dimon went on to lead Bank One, which was bought by JPMorgan, and eventually became CEO of that bank. Though the company’s been in trouble lately, it weathered the financial crisis better than other major banks.
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square
Dorsey was pushed out of his role as CEO of Twitter in 2008 in favour of Evan Williams, who later passed the job to current CEO Dick Costolo. After seeing his role reduced, Dorsey went on to found Square, now valued at over $US3 billion. He returned as Twitter’s executive chairman in 2011.
Mickey Drexler, CEO of J. Crew
After being widely credited with Gap’s rise to ubiquity in the 1990s, Drexler was suddenly fired by the company’s founder. J. Crew rapidly snapped Drexler up, and he’s been incredibly successful there. Gap, on the other hand, has struggled significantly.
Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Mayer was a highly visible and influential early employee of Google. But over time, she started to get pushed out of the center of power, losing her overarching responsibility for search, all of Google’s consumer-facing products, and her seat on a council of executives that met with the company’s CEO. When Yahoo needed a new CEO, she made the leap, made big-ticket acquisitions of companies like Tumblr, and has seen the stock rise significantly.
James McNerney, CEO of Boeing
McNerney may not have won the CEO job at GE, but he’s gone on to lead two other legendary companies. He was CEO of industrial powerhouse 3M for four years until Boeing, the world’s second-largest defence and aerospace contractor, poached him for the top role in 2005.
Tom Rutledge, CEO of Charter
Rutledge spent a good number of his 34 years in the cable industry at Time Warner Cable, eventually rising to become its President. He was passed over in 2001 for the CEO job in favour of Glenn Britt, who only recently stepped down. Rutledge is now the CEO of Charter, which recently took over Cablevision, and is in the middle of an aggressive bid for the company that originally snubbed him.
Ron Sugar, former CEO of Northrup Grumman
When Sugar lost out on the top job at automotive and aerospace company TRW, he left to take the No. 2 position at defence giant Northrup Grumman. Not long after that move, the man he lost the job to at TRW quit, sending the stock price way down. That allowed Northrop to buy TRW out, and Sugar ended up leading the combined company for six years.
Chris Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi-Aventis
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