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By | Jan. 2013
Page 1 of 35
HBR CASE STUDY

Indispensable

DANIEL VASCONCELLOS

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
planning.

T

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.
september 2006

37

YEL MAG CYAN BLACK

by John Beeson

H B R C A S E S T U D Y • Indispensable

a presentation...