by Thomas Wailgum

Timing Is Key in Succession Planning

May 01, 20052 mins
IT Leadership

Succession planning requires coordination and corralled egos.

Timing is the key to almost every facet of UPS’s package-delivery business. Company executives stress that their succession planning program is successful only when the right candidate is available at the right time for the right position. For better or worse, UPS runs its employees hard and expects that most will retire in their mid-50s. Executives take that into account when selecting their successors. Former CIO Ken Lacy, who retired at age 55 in February 2005, knew he couldn’t tab someone his age as his successor. What’s more, if Lacy waited to retire at 60, then his first-choice successor, Dave Barnes, who is 49, might have missed his own window of opportunity. “We spend all this effort and time on succession planning, and if you wait an extra five years, that person won’t get that job,” Lacy says. “Why would I not want to give Dave that opportunity?”

Of course, the corporate world is full of people whose egos won’t allow thoughts of a successor. But Lacy says Barnes has the right skill set to handle UPS’s increasing technology challenges. Because of Barnes’s lengthy apprenticeship, which allowed him to run much of the IS organization before being named CIO, Lacy isn’t too concerned. “He’s got a new responsibility, not a new job,” Lacy says.