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Published on December 1, 2023

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New CEO Hires in November 2023

November 2023 saw a series of high-profile CEO appointments across various industries, providing valuable insights into the evolving leadership landscape and potential strategic shifts within prominent companies. This in-depth analysis, tailored for professional investors, examines the backgrounds and track records of the newly appointed CEOs, the circumstances leading to their hiring, and the implications for the future direction and performance of the organizations they now lead.

Chris Boerner, Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (BMY), Start Date: November 1, 2023

Chris Boerner assumed the role of CEO at Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY) on November 1, 2023, following a transition period as executive vice president, chief operating officer, and CEO-elect from April to November 2023. Boerner’s career at Bristol Myers Squibb began in February 2015, and he has held various leadership positions within the company, including executive vice president and chief commercialization officer, where he oversaw the worldwide Commercial and Medical organizations. His responsibilities also encompassed driving growth across key franchises and leading U.S. sales, marketing, government affairs, and market access as head of U.S. commercial markets. Prior to joining Bristol Myers Squibb, Boerner held marketing leadership roles at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and worked for McKinsey & Company, serving global pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients.

Boerner’s focus is on maintaining a relatively stable business through 2025 by emphasizing a growth portfolio consisting of 11 key brands and approximately three dozen clinical candidates. Under his leadership, Bristol Myers Squibb is prioritizing business development and pipeline execution to navigate the evolving pharmaceutical landscape.

Jeff Zadoks, Post Holdings, Inc. (POST), Start Date: November 2, 2023

Jeff Zadoks assumed the role of CEO at Post Holdings, Inc. (POST) on November 2, 2023. Zadoks joined the St. Louis-based consumer packaged goods company in 2016 as Senior Vice President of Finance and Operations, where he was responsible for overseeing financial planning and analysis, supply chain, and information technology functions. During his tenure, he played a key role in navigating strategic challenges, including the integration of Michael Foods, a value-added egg products and refrigerated foods producer, following its $2.45 billion acquisition by Post Holdings in 2017.

Prior to joining Post Holdings, Zadoks spent nearly a decade at General Mills, Inc., where he held various leadership positions in finance and operations. He started his career at General Mills in 2005 as a financial analyst and progressed to become the Director of Financial Planning and Analysis in 2011. In this capacity, he was responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies to support the company’s growth objectives and played a significant role in several strategic acquisitions and divestitures. Zadoks’ extensive experience in the consumer packaged goods industry, particularly in finance and operations, is regarded by analysts as a valuable asset for Post Holdings as it pursues its growth objectives.

Sean Thompson, Party City Holdco, Inc. (PRTYQ), Start Date: November 3, 2023

Sean Thompson has been appointed as the new CEO of Party City Holdco, Inc. (PRTYQ), bringing with him extensive experience in the retail industry. Thompson previously served as the Chief Operating Officer at Party City, where he focused on streamlining operations, improving customer experiences, and implementing strategic initiatives. Prior to his role at Party City, Thompson held leadership positions at JCPenney and Home Depot. At JCPenney, he served as the Executive Vice President of Stores and Services, leading a turnaround effort that aimed to improve sales and customer satisfaction. During his tenure at Home Depot, Thompson spent over a decade in various roles, eventually becoming the Senior Vice President of U.S. Stores, overseeing the operations of more than 2,000 stores.

Thompson’s appointment comes at a time when Party City is navigating the challenges posed by the evolving retail landscape and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his new role, Thompson is expected to focus on strengthening the company’s market position, accelerating digital transformation, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement and customer-centricity. Thompson’s experience in retail operations, strategy, and customer experience management, as well as his track record of driving growth and innovation in the industry, are seen as valuable assets as he takes on the leadership role at Party City Holdco, Inc.

Party City Holdco, Inc.

Leagh Turner, Coupa Software, Inc. (COUP), Start Date: November 13, 2023

Leagh Turner has been appointed as the new CEO of Coupa Software, Inc. (COUP) effective November 13, 2023. Turner brings extensive experience in leading global technology companies, having previously served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Ceridian, a human capital management software company. During her tenure at Ceridian, she was responsible for various aspects of the business, including customer success, professional services, and product development. Prior to Ceridian, Turner held leadership positions at Infor, a multinational enterprise software company, where she led a team of over 1,500 professionals as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the global customer success organization.

Turner’s appointment follows the departure of the previous CEO, Rob Bernshteyn, who stepped down to pursue other opportunities. The Coupa board of directors unanimously selected Turner, recognizing her track record in leading technology companies and delivering results. As Coupa navigates the evolving landscape of cloud-based business spend management solutions, Turner’s experience in driving growth, digital transformation, and customer success is expected to be valuable in maintaining the company’s position as a market leader and continuing to innovate and deliver value to its customers.

Hamid Akhavan, DISH Network Corp. (DISH), Start Date: November 13, 2023

Hamid Akhavan, the newly appointed CEO of DISH Network Corporation, brings a distinguished career in the telecommunications industry to his new role. Born in Tehran, Iran, Akhavan moved to the United States to pursue his education, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He began his professional journey at AT&T Bell Laboratories, holding various engineering and management positions before being appointed as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of AT&T Wireless in 2000. In 2007, Akhavan became the CEO of Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Mobile USA, where he led the company through a period of modernization and expansion, including the deployment of a nationwide 4G network.

In October 2023, DISH Network Corporation announced that Akhavan would succeed Erik Carlson as the company’s CEO, effective November 13, 2023, following Carlson’s resignation. The DISH board of directors unanimously agreed that Akhavan’s experience in the telecommunications industry and his track record in driving innovation and growth made him a suitable candidate to lead the company’s turnaround. Akhavan’s appointment marks a shift in DISH Network Corporation’s strategy, as his background in technology and network infrastructure is expected to accelerate the company’s transition from satellite-based services to 5G and edge computing. In his first public statement as CEO, Akhavan outlined a three-pronged approach that focuses on investing in network infrastructure, driving innovation through partnerships, and fostering a culture of innovation within the company.

Timothy Flanagan, GrafTech International Ltd. (EAF), Start Date: November 15, 2023

GrafTech International Ltd. has appointed Timothy K. Flanagan as its new President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) following a comprehensive search process. Flanagan, 46, has been serving as the interim CEO since November 2023 and previously held the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at GrafTech. The company’s Board of Directors conducted a thorough search with the assistance of an executive search firm and determined that Flanagan is well-suited to lead GrafTech forward and capitalize on its competitive advantages for long-term growth.

Before joining GrafTech, Flanagan served as Executive Vice President and CFO of Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., a flat-rolled steel producer and supplier of iron ore pellets, from January 2017 to February 2019. He joined Cleveland-Cliffs in 2008 and held various financial leadership roles within the company. Flanagan’s experience in the steel industry and his leadership positions at Cleveland-Cliffs are expected to benefit GrafTech, its stockholders, customers, and other stakeholders. As part of the company’s strategic moves, GrafTech has expanded its Board of Directors from seven to eight members and appointed Flanagan as a director without additional pay. His compensation as CEO will include a base salary increase to $702,000, reflecting his transition from an interim to a permanent role, with adjustments to his incentive plans.

Richard Wilmer, ChargePoint Holdings, Inc. (CHPT), Start Date: November 16, 2023

Richard Wilmer assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer at ChargePoint Holdings, Inc. (CHPT) on November 16, 2023, succeeding founder Pasquale Romano. Wilmer brings to ChargePoint a career marked by strategic leadership, technological innovation, and a focus on sustainability. Before joining the company, he served as the President and CEO of Silver Spring Networks from 2015 to 2021, where he oversaw significant growth that led to the company’s acquisition by Itron, Inc. for $830 million. Following the acquisition, Wilmer remained with Itron as a strategic advisor and the President of its Networked Solutions division.

Wilmer’s appointment comes as ChargePoint prepares to expand its global presence and strengthen its position in the rapidly growing EV charging market. Romano, who founded the company in 2007, will transition to the role of Executive Chairman, focusing on strategic initiatives and partnerships. According to industry analysts, Wilmer’s extensive experience in leading technology companies and his understanding of the smart infrastructure market position him well to help ChargePoint capitalize on the increasing demand for EV charging solutions and solidify its market leadership.

Paul Lalljie, 2U, Inc. (TWOU), Start Date: November 17, 2023

Paul Lalljie has been appointed as the new CEO of 2U, Inc. (TWOU), an educational technology company, effective November 17, 2023. Lalljie brings over two decades of experience in various industries, including education, finance, and healthcare. Before joining 2U, Lalljie served as the Chief Transformation Officer at Pearson, where he was responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the company’s digital products, services, and platforms. He has also held executive positions at JPMorgan Chase and UnitedHealth Group, where he led digital transformation initiatives and drove operational improvements.

As the new CEO of 2U, Lalljie will face challenges such as addressing the company’s profitability concerns and increasing competition in the education technology sector. However, he also has opportunities to capitalize on the growing demand for online learning and flexible education options, as well as leveraging emerging technologies to improve 2U’s products and services. Lalljie’s leadership approach is characterized by his focus on innovation, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making, which analysts believe could be beneficial in navigating the challenges and opportunities that 2U faces.

2U, Inc. website

Larry Coben, NRG Energy, Inc. (NRG), Start Date: November 17, 2023

Lawrence Coben, Ph.D., has been appointed as the Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of NRG Energy, Inc. Dr. Coben brings a wealth of experience to the role, having served on the NRG Board of Directors since 2003 and as its Chair since 2017. His career in the energy sector spans several decades, including leadership positions at Tremisis Energy and board memberships at SAESA, Prisma Energy, and Morgan Stanley Infrastructure II, L.P. Dr. Coben’s educational background includes degrees in economics from Yale University, a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in anthropology with a focus in archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Coben’s appointment follows the resignation of Mauricio Gutierrez from his positions as President, Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Board of Directors. The NRG Board has initiated a search for a permanent CEO, retaining a leading search firm to assist in the process. Dr. Coben’s appointment also comes after an agreement between NRG and Elliott Investment Management, which resulted in the addition of four new independent directors to the company’s Board. These changes are part of NRG’s efforts to refresh its Board and respond to investor demands for changes in the company’s leadership and strategy. Anne Schaumburg, another NRG director, has been appointed Lead Independent Director.

Marla Beck, The Beauty Health Co. (SKIN), Start Date: November 19, 2023

Marla Beck has been appointed as the new CEO of The Beauty Health Company, the parent company of SKIN, effective November 19, 2023. Beck brings over two decades of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, having co-founded and led Bluemercury, a luxury beauty products and spa retail chain, from its inception in 1999 to its acquisition by Macy’s Inc. in 2015 for $210 million. During her tenure at Bluemercury, Beck oversaw the company’s expansion from a single store in Georgetown, Washington D.C., to over 200 locations across the United States.

Beck’s appointment comes at a time when The Beauty Health Company has been facing challenges related to changing consumer preferences and increased competition in the beauty and wellness market. Analysts have noted that Beck’s industry knowledge, leadership skills, and experience in driving growth and innovation make her well-positioned to lead the company through its next phase of development. As the new CEO, Beck will be tasked with navigating the complex business environment and implementing strategies to help the company regain its market position and achieve long-term success.

The Beauty Health Company

Sumit Dhawan, Proofpoint, Inc. (PFPT), Start Date: November 28, 2023

Sumit Dhawan has been appointed as the new CEO of Proofpoint, Inc., a cybersecurity company, effective November 28, 2023. Dhawan brings a wealth of experience in the technology industry, particularly in security and cloud services. He previously served as the Chief Customer Officer and Senior Vice President of International Sales at VMware, where he focused on customer success and global expansion. Prior to VMware, Dhawan held leadership roles at Microsoft, Citrix Systems, and Nortel Networks, gaining experience in product management, marketing, and sales. Analysts have noted that Dhawan’s background in security, cloud, and end-user computing, along with his track record of driving growth and customer success, positions him well to lead Proofpoint.

Dhawan assumes the role of CEO at a time when Proofpoint is looking to capitalize on its recent success in the cybersecurity market, which has been driven by the growing demand for cloud-based security solutions. As the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve and new threats emerge, Dhawan will be responsible for guiding Proofpoint’s strategy to remain at the forefront of the industry and deliver innovative security solutions to its customers. Industry observers have commented that Dhawan’s experience in the technology sector and his customer-centric approach align well with Proofpoint’s mission to protect individuals and organizations from cyber threats.


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