Great Western CEO Ken Karels leaves

  • Push-out Score determined
  • After almost 11 years in the position
  • Accolades and praise for Karels
  • Search for a successor
  • Karels said 84 words

(exechange) — Sioux Falls, South Dakota, November 26, 2019 — Ken Karels, chief executive of Great Western, leaves his position. As announced by Great Western Bancorp Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, November 26, 2019, Kenneth J. (Ken) Karels, Chief Executive Officer, leaves the parent company of Great Western Bank after almost 11 years in the role.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 7.4 years, according to data compiled by exechange. On an accumulated basis, around 27% of the CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months left their posts after more than 10 years.

Karels will continue to serve as Chairperson, President and CEO of Great Western until the earlier of his successor’s appointment or the date of his retirement.

Great Western will undertake a search for a successor.

Long goodbye

It is a long goodbye. The announcement of Ken Karels’s move comes up to 10 months prior to his planned departure from the post of CEO.

In general, a top executive who announces the departure very early may be considered a lame duck.

Lengthy lead times give boards extra time to find replacements, and they also create uncertainty. Would-be successors may jockey for attention and workers may wonder who is actually in charge.

Generally speaking, lame-duck leaders can take a forceful role in selecting a successor and are not expected to launch major shifts.

“Succession planning”

Ken Karels’s departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Great Western said: “[A]s part of its succession planning, Kenneth J. Karels, Chairperson, President and CEO of Great Western Bancorp, Inc., and Great Western Bank (together, “Great Western”) plans to retire from Great Western effective October 2, 2020.”

Precise information regarding Ken Karels’s future plans was not immediately available.


Great Western said: “On November 26, 2019, Great Western Bancorp, Inc., announced that as part of its succession planning, Ken Karels, Chairperson, President and Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of Great Western Bancorp, Inc., and its subsidiary Great Western Bank (together, the “Company”) will retire from the Company on October 2, 2020.”

Share price decline

The announcement follows a decline in Great Western Bancorp, Inc.’s share price of 20% since January 2017.

In the position of CEO since 2010

Ken Karels became CEO of the Company in January 2010.

Following the appointment of Karels’ successor, Karels will continue on in advisory capacity to assist in the transition.

Kenneth Karels has served as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and on its Board of Directors since 2010 and was elected Chairman in 2017.

Karels is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company’s Bank and serves on the Boards of Directors of the Company’s Bank and its other subsidiaries.

Karels served as the President of the Company and the Company’s Bank from 2010 to October 1, 2018.

Karels’ duties include overall leadership and executive oversight of the Company’s Bank.

Karels has over 40 years of banking experience and expertise in all areas of bank management and strategic bank acquisitions.

He has served in several different capacities at the Company’s Bank since February 2002, including Regional President and Chief Operating Officer for the Bank’s branch distribution channel including agriculture, business and retail lending and deposits functions.

During his executive tenure, Karels has helped grow the Company’s Bank from $5.2 billion in assets at September 30, 2009 to over $12 billion in assets today.

Before joining the Bank, Karels served as President and Chief Executive Officer at Marquette Bank, Milbank, SD, where he was employed for 25 years.

In addition, Karels also serves on the board of Avera Health Systems, the board of Valley Queen Cheese and the board of the South Dakota Education Enhancement and Funding Corporation.

Karels also served as a member of the Federal Advisory Council to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank from 2016 through 2018.

Push-out Score determined

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange gauges the pressure surrounding the management change on a scale of 0 to 10.

exechange reached out to Great Western and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 48.2019 ($).