Workiva CEO Marty Vanderploeg leaves post

  • After about five years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Vanderploeg
  • Julie Iskow taking over
  • Vanderploeg will remain as Non-Executive Chair at Workiva
  • Vanderploeg said 95 words

(exechange) — Ames, Iowa, February 21, 2023 — This news came shortly after Presidents’ Day. Marty Vanderploeg, chief executive of Workiva, leaves his position. As announced by Workiva Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, February 21, 2023, Martin J. (Marty) Vanderploeg leaves his post as chief executive officer at the software-as-a-service (SaaS) company, after about five years in the role, effective March 31, 2023.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.5 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.

Marty Vanderploeg’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Julie Iskow, currently President and Chief Operating Officer at Workiva Inc.

“Now is the right time”

Marty Vanderploeg’s departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Vanderploeg stated: “Now is the right time for me, and for Workiva, to make this change.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (26.1% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (9.8%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (5.6% of cases), personal reasons (3.3%) and conduct issues (2.1%). Rather rarely stated reasons are career change (2.1% of cases), health problems (1.8%), disagreement (1.2%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%) and death (0.9%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 30.3% of cases, no reason was given.

Vanderploeg will remain as Non-Executive Chair at Workiva

Workiva stated: “[C]urrent President and Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed to succeed Marty Vanderploeg as Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2023. Vanderploeg is stepping down as CEO, but will remain with the company in the role of Non-Executive Chair of the Board of Directors.”


Workiva said: “On February 21, 2023, Martin J. Vanderploeg notified the Board of Directors (the “Board”) of Workiva Inc. (the “Company”) of his intent to retire as Chief Executive Officer of the Company, effective March 31, 2023.”

Generally, retirements are seen as formally voluntary departures. Still, CEOs may also be pressured to accelerate their retirement plans. In fact, 35% of the time “retire” was used in CEO departure announcements over the past 12 months, the departing chief executives received Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5, indicating elevated pressure.

Share price increase since June 2018

The announcement follows an increase in Workiva Inc.’s share price of 237% since June 2018. June 2018 is the month in which Vanderploeg’s tenure as CEO began.

In the position of CEO since 2018

Marty Vanderploeg became CEO of the Company in 2018.

Vanderploeg has served as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer since March 2022, as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer from June 2018 to March 2022, and as President and Chief Operating Officer from December 2014 to June 2018.

Prior to that, Vanderploeg served as the Chief Operating Officer and a Managing Director of Workiva LLC from 2008 through December 2014.

He has over 20 years of experience in mechanical engineering and advising early stage technology companies.

Prior to founding Workiva in 2008, Vanderploeg was a founder of EAI and served as EAI’s Executive Vice President from 1993 until EAI was acquired by Unigraphics Solutions in 2000.

Vanderploeg served as Chief Technology Officer of EAI from 1989 to 1999.

Following the acquisition of EAI, Vanderploeg continued to be an advisor to various technology start-up companies.

Prior to EAI, Vanderploeg was a tenured professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State University from 1985 to 1993 and was the founder and director of the Iowa State University Visualization Laboratory.

Vanderploeg earned a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University.

95 words by Marty Vanderploeg

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Workiva Inc., Marty Vanderploeg received praise and thanks.

In announcing the leadership change, Marty Vanderploeg said 95 words.

“We progress toward a long-term goal of $1 billion in revenue”

Marty Vanderploeg stated: “As a co-founder of Workiva, I have had the good fortune of working with a talented team for the past 15 years, five of those as CEO. Now is the right time for me, and for Workiva, to make this change. Since day one of Julie’s arrival, she’s made our organization better. Julie has spent the past three years thoughtfully building and shaping our remarkable leadership team and operational strategy as we progress toward a long-term goal of $1 billion in revenue. I look forward to supporting her in my new role as Non-Executive Chair.”

Over the past 12 months, 25% 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 110 words. The longest statement was 510 words. 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.

36% 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 337 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (February 21, 2022, to February 20, 2023), the average Push-out Score was 5.8, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When performance issues, time with family or other opportunities were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 36% 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, one in three 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, utilities and financials sectors, as measured by average Push-out Scores.

In the information technology sector, which includes Workiva Inc., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 6, 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 Marty Vanderploeg’s move determined

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

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 9.2023 ($).