Edward Bennett is a
talented CEO with a lot
on his plate. But he’s not
getting any younger, and
his board can’t get him
engaged in succession
om Calloway, nonexecutive chairman of Astar Enterprises, put the
phone back in its cradle as gently as he
could, given the circumstances. He had
just ﬁnished yet another difﬁcult and unsatisfactory conversation with Edward
Bennett, Astar’s CEO, about succession
planning. Calloway wheeled his chair
around and looked out over the stunning
view of Boston Harbor. His 25th-ﬂoor ofﬁce at Pedigree Investment Partners was
smaller than the one he’d had at Puritan
Bancorp before retiring as CEO four
years ago, but he’d brought his impressive mahogany desk with him, and the
table in the corner displayed a career’s
worth of “tombstones”from major deals
he’d done during his career at Puritan.
Calloway had joined the board of
Astar, a highly proﬁtable consumer
products company, eight years ago and
had taken over as chairman shortly after
his retirement from Puritan. He enjoyed
a strong working relationship with Bennett. Although they didn’t always see
eye to eye, they had always been able to
work out their differences. Regarding
Astar’s strategy and ﬁnancial matters,
Bennett was invariably open and transparent. The CEO held the reins a little
tighter on management and organizational issues, but as he continued to
deliver results, the board was inclined
to let Bennett follow his instincts. The
topic of succession planning, though,
was another matter.
“What does he think he is, immortal?”
Calloway thought to himself. After 18
months and several conversations, Bennett had grudgingly agreed to prepare
HBR’s cases, which are ﬁctional, present common managerial dilemmas
and offer concrete solutions from experts.
YEL MAG CYAN BLACK
by John Beeson
H B R C A S E S T U D Y • Indispensable
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