Alta Mesa CEO Hal Chappelle leaves at short notice

  • Push-out Score determined
  • After less than one year in the position
  • Jim Hackett taking over in the interim

(exechange) — Houston, Texas, December 20, 2018 — Hal Chappelle, chief executive of Alta Mesa, leaves. It is a change at short notice. As announced by Alta Mesa Resources Inc. in a news release on Thursday, December 20, 2018, Harlan H. (Hal) Chappelle leaves his post as Chief Executive Officer at the independent exploration and production company after less than one year in the role, effective December 26, 2018.

No company wants a CEO to flame out in the first year.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 8.9 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 6 percent of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months left the position within their first year. Around 14 percent left the position within two years, and 23 percent left the position within three years.

Hal Chappelle’s duties will be taken over in the interim by James T. (Jim) Hackett, most recently Executive Chairman of the Board of Alta Mesa Resources, Inc., as Interim Chief Executive Officer.

No reason given

In the announcement, Alta Mesa did not explicitly explain the reason for Hal Chappelle’s imminent move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information regarding Hal Chappelle’s future plans was not immediately available.

Alarm signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the position at short notice and without a reasonable explanation.


Alta Mesa said: “Alta Mesa Resources, Inc. … today announced the resignations of Harlan H. Chappelle, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Michael E. Ellis, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer—Upstream, effective December 26, 2018.”

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in Alta Mesa Resources, Inc.’s share price of 90 percent since February 2018.

In the position of CEO since 2018

Harlan H. Chappelle served as Chief Executive Officer, President & Director of Alta Mesa Resources, Inc. since February 9, 2018.

Harlan H. Chappelle became the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and a director immediately following the Closing.

He has previously served as the President, CEO and director of Alta Mesa, since November 2004.

Chappelle has over 30 years of experience in field operations, engineering, management, marketing and trading, acquisitions and divestitures and field re-development.

He has worked for Louisiana Land & Exploration Company, Burlington Resources, Southern Company and Mirant.

Chappelle retired as a Commander from the U.S. Navy Reserve.

He has a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Auburn University and a Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.


Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step aside with no permanent successor available, it’s a sign that the change was unplanned and too early.

Push-out Score determined

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the likelihood that a manager was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position.

exechange reached out to Alta Mesa and offered Alta Mesa the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 1.2019 ($).