Anatomy of a succession plan: How Rosendin Electric's CIO filled his own shoes

Sam Lamonica is retiring after working a decade as the electrical contractor’s CIO. This is the story of how he groomed his replacement.

Anatomy of a succession plan: How Rosendin Electric's CIO filled his own shoes
Rosendin Electric

Forward-thinking CIOs talk about crafting a solid succession plan. Few get to complete this critical task with digital disruption breathing down their necks and their tenures trimmed to under 4 years.

When he decided in 2018 that it was time to retire, Rosendin Electric CIO Sam Lamonica took pains not to leave the $2.5 billion electrical contractor in the lurch. Lamonica created an organizational chart for what the IT team should look like and submitted it last November, with a plan to retire in 2019. "I wanted to make sure there is great leadership in place for the foreseeable future," Lamonica, who will exit at the end of this year, tells CIO.com. “The additional lead time gave everybody opportunity to digest it, ruminate and accept it.”

Unanimous approval of org charts is rare these days, with considerations of leadership skills, technical prowess and culture fit hanging in the balance. But 16 Rosendin senior leaders and the board of directors bought in. “Not one balked at my plan,” says Lamonica, who joined the company as CIO in 2009. It certainly helped that leadership and the board were already well acquainted with Lamonica's successor, Matt Lamb, who officially took the reins in August.

CIOs rarely struggle to name a successor, that trusted lieutenant who has the technical chops and soft-skill savvy to both nurture and navigate the business. Plugging in the right leaders two and even three layers deep is another story, as IT leaders tend to give middle management roles short shrift, says Gartner analyst Diane Berry. Fifty-two percent of more than 30,000 leaders and HR professionals surveyed said they weren’t sure of the current status of their leadership talent capability across the organization, according to Development Dimensions International. And 50 percent do not have "well integrated and strategically aligned" leadership development programs.

Picking the team from the top down

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