Sabre CEO Sean Menke leaves post

  • After about six and a half years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Menke
  • Kurt Ekert taking over
  • Menke will remain as Executive Chair at Sabre
  • Menke said 111 words

(exechange) — Southlake, Texas, March 1, 2023 — Sean Menke, chief executive of Sabre, leaves his position. As announced by Sabre Corp. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, Sean Menke leaves his post as chief executive officer at the software and technology company, after about six and a half years in the role, effective April 27, 2023.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.4 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.

Sean Menke’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Kurt J. Ekert, currently President at Sabre Corp.

“Succession planning”

Sean Menke’s departure from the CEO post is explained as follows. Sabre stated: “These moves are being made as part of the company’s and the Board of Directors’ ongoing succession planning.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (26.7% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16.5%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (9.9%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (5.7% of cases), personal reasons (3.6%) and conduct issues (2.1%). Rather rarely stated reasons are career change (2.1% of cases), health problems (1.5%), disagreement (1.2%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%) and death (0.9%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 28.8% of cases, no reason was given.

Menke will remain as Executive Chair at Sabre

Sabre stated: “Sean Menke, currently Chair of the company’s Board and its Chief Executive Officer, will transition to be solely Sabre’s Executive Chair of the Board, effective April 27, 2023.”


Sabre said: “[E]ffective April 27, 2023, Sean Menke, current Chair of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer (“Chief Executive Officer”) of Sabre, will transition his role as CEO to Kurt J. Ekert, current President of Sabre.”

Share price decline since December 2016

The announcement follows a decline in Sabre Corp.’s share price of 80% since December 2016. December 2016 is the month in which Menke’s tenure as CEO began.

In the position of CEO since 2016

Sean Menke became CEO of the Company in 2016.

Menke has served as CEO of Sabre since December 2016 and served as its President from December 2016 through January 2, 2022.

He was elected Executive Chair of the Board effective April 28, 2022.

Menke previously served as Sabre’s Executive Vice President and President of Travel Network.

Before joining Sabre in October 2015, Menke served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Hawaiian Airlines from October 2014 to October 2015.

From 2013 to 2014, he was Executive Vice President of Resources at IHS Inc., a global information technology company.

He served as managing partner of Vista Strategic Group, LLC, a consulting firm, from 2012 to 2013 and from 2010 to 2011.

From 2011 to 2012, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Airlines, and from 2007 to 2010 as President and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier Airlines.

He serves as a director of Waste Management, Inc., a provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services.

111 words by Sean Menke

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Sabre Corp., Sean Menke received praise and thanks.

In announcing the leadership change, Sean Menke said 111 words.

“Continue to successfully lead this organization into the future”

Sean Menke stated: “It has been an honor and privilege to help lead Sabre over the last eight years. I am proud of what our teams have accomplished and how we’ve served our customers during unprecedented times. It has been immensely gratifying to see the dedication and success of our team, as Sabre continues to transform itself to become the trusted, and preferred, technology partner in travel. I look forward to transitioning into the role of executive chair and welcome Kurt as our new chief executive officer. He’s been a driving force at Sabre over the past fourteen months and I am confident he will continue to successfully lead this organization into the future.”

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 111 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 333 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (March 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023), the average Push-out Score was 5.9, 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 Sabre Corp., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 6.1, 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 Sean Menke’s move determined

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

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

Read the full story in the exechange report 10.2023 ($).