Zebra CEO Anders Gustafsson leaves post

  • After almost 16 years in the position
  • Praise for Gustafsson
  • Bill Burns taking over
  • Gustafsson will remain as Executive Chair at Zebra
  • Gustafsson said 67 words

(exechange) — Lincolnshire, Illinois, December 8, 2022 — Anders Gustafsson, chief executive of Zebra, leaves his position. As announced by Zebra Technologies Corp. in a news release and a regulatory filing published on Thursday, December 8, 2022, Anders Gustafsson leaves his post as chief executive officer at the mobile computing company, after almost 16 years in the role, effective March 1, 2023.

It is the end of an era.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.1 years. Around 13% of CEOs left their posts after more than 15 years. This is according to data collected by CEO-exit research firm exechange.

exechange tracks CEO departures at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., examines the reasons CEOs leave and determines the Push‑out Score™, a measure of pressure on departing chief executives on a scale of 0 to 10.

Anders Gustafsson’s duties as CEO will be taken over by William (Bill) Burns, currently Chief Product & Solutions Officer at Zebra Technologies Corp.

“Culmination of the Board of Directors’ multi-year succession planning process”

Anders Gustafsson’s departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Michael Smith, Zebra’s Board Chair, said: “This leadership transition is the successful culmination of the Board of Directors’ multi-year succession planning process.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (25.6% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (8.6%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for CEO exits included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (6.5% of cases), personal reasons (3.4%) and conduct issues (2.5%). Rather rarely stated reasons are health problems (2.5% of cases), career change (2.2%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%), disagreement (0.6%) and death (0.6%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 30.6% of cases, no reason was given.

Gustafsson will remain as Executive Chair at Zebra

Zebra stated: “Anders Gustafsson will transition from his role as CEO to become Executive Chair of the Zebra Board of Directors.”

“Transition/step down”

Zebra said: “Anders Gustafsson will transition from his role as CEO.”

Zebra further said: “Mr. Burns will succeed Anders Gustafsson, who will step down as Chief Executive Officer of the Company.”

Share price decline since December 2021

The announcement follows a decline in Zebra Technologies Corp.’s share price of 57% since December 2021.

In the position of CEO since 2007

Anders Gustafsson became CEO of the Company in 2007.

Gustafsson became Zebra’s Chief Executive Officer and a director in 2007.

Prior to joining Zebra, Gustafsson served as Chief Executive Officer of Spirent Communications plc, a publicly-traded telecommunications company, from 2004 until 2007.

At Spirent, he redirected that Company’s growth strategy, divested non-core operations, integrated historic acquisitions and streamlined the organization to realize significant cost savings.

From 2000 until 2004, he was Senior Executive Vice President, Global Business Operations, of Tellabs, Inc., a communications networking company.

Gustafsson’s other roles at Tellabs included President, Tellabs International; President, Global Sales; and Vice President and General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Earlier in his career, he held executive positions with Motorola, Inc. and Network Equipment Technologies, Inc.

Gustafsson is a member of the board of directors of International Paper Company (NYSE: IP), a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products.

Previously, Gustafsson was a member of board of directors of Dycom Industries Inc. (NYSE: DY), a company that provides construction and specialty services to the telecommunications industry.

He is a member of the Technology Committee and the Immigration Committee of the Business Roundtable.

He also serves as a trustee of the Shedd Aquarium and is a member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

67 words by Anders Gustafsson

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Zebra Technologies Corp., Anders Gustafsson received praise.

In the announcement of the leadership change, Anders Gustafsson said 67 words.

“Bill is the right leader”

Anders Gustafsson stated: “The need to digitize operations remains a strategic focus for our customers globally. Now more than ever, our customers need our solutions to improve workflows across their broader supply chains. Bill is the right leader to continue to advance our vision and further elevate Zebra as a trusted advisor to our customers and partners in our vibrant core as well as our high-growth adjacent and expansion markets.”

Over the past 12 months, 27% of all outgoing CEOs remained silent in the departure announcement, according to data compiled by exechange. Departing CEOs who did make a statement said an average of 109 words. The longest statement was 382 words, and the shortest statement was 23 words. Leadership transitions in which departing CEOs provide conspicuously short, excessively long or no explanations for their move are statistically associated with elevated pressure and show an increased incidence of Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5. In contrast, leadership changes are statistically associated with low pressure when departing CEOs speak more about their successors than their successes.

32% of CEOs are forced out or fired

When CEO departures are announced, exechange determines the Push-out Score on a scale of 0 to 10 to assess how likely it is that the chief executive was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position, with 0 being most likely a voluntary move and 10 being most likely a forced exit. Anything over a 5 indicates that there are valid reasons to believe an executive may have been pushed out.

Of the 324 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (December 8, 2021, to December 7, 2022), the average Push-out Score was 5.6, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When time with family, performance issues or personal reasons were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 32% of the CEO departure events from the past 12 months received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher.

In other words, in the past 12 months, three in 10 departing CEOs were forced out or fired.

Pressure in the information technology sector well above the critical threshold

Some industries are under generally higher pressure than others, and CEOs are feeling the strain. In the past 12 months, the communication, health care and consumer staples sectors showed the highest average Push-out Scores. By contrast, pressure on CEOs was lowest in the real estate, financials and industrials sectors, as measured by average Push-out Scores.

In the information technology sector, which includes Zebra Technologies Corp., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 6.2, which is well above the critical threshold of 5.

In the information technology sector, 19 exiting CEOs received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher over the past 12 months, indicating that they were most likely forced out or faced strong pressure to step down.

Push-out Score for Anders Gustafsson’s move determined

The Push-out Score regarding Anders Gustafsson’s move is explained point by point in the exechange report.

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 50.2022 ($).