C-suite ain't so sweet

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Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News
Allison Schiff, web editor, Direct Marketing News
Can't an executive catch a break? Not at Best Buy or T-Mobile, that's for sure.

Best Buy's not having a good month. First, CEO Brian Dunn resigned at the beginning of April amidst talk that the company's board was investigating his personal conduct. Dunn, who was with Best Buy for almost 30 years, allegedly siphoned company funds to finance a dalliance with a female colleague.

Then Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens — Best Buy acquired Geek Squad back in 2002 for an undisclosed sum — parted ways with the company.

Now the big box retailer's chief marketing officer Barry Judge (left) is out the door. Judge, who'd been head of marketing since 2008, is “leaving the company to explore the next chapter in his career,” according to a best Buy spokesman quoted by Bloomberg. Politically stated.

And not to be left out, T-Mobile's CMO Cole Brodman announced he's hitting the road at the end of May. Brodman was with the mobile carrier for 17 years in a variety of roles, but only served as CMO for two. He told The Wall Street Journal that the move is “an opportunity to step away, get a break and start to think about how I want to do something next.” Chin up, Brodman.

It's not news that having clawed one's way to the top, an executive has trouble staying put. At the National Retail Federation's 101st Big Show back in January, I attended a session delving into ways CEOs can create healthy corporate cultures. An internal study of CEO turnover conducted by executive recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates was cited. The study found that retail CEOs change jobs 30% more frequently than Fortune 1,000 CEOs in general. Moreover, the study found that retail CEOs had 80% turnover within two years.

Russell Reynolds managing director and global retail practice leader Brenda Malloy, who was moderating the session, chalked it up to a “lack of stability and innovative capacity in the C-suite.” Perhaps. Clearly, there's something going on.

Upshot: If you're an executive, don't get too comfortable. It's cutthroat out there.

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