Little did I forsee the tragic news about Michelin’s young CEO Edouard Michelin when I last posted about boards being unprepared for sudden CEO departures. CEO Michelin died in a boating accident in western France on May 26th. The company decisively issued statements about the tragedy and who his successor would be. These statements were prominently displayed on the Web site. The coverage regarding new CEO Mr Rollier instilled confidence and assurance during a period of potential uncertainty.
US Michelin Web site: “Michelin has just learned the tragic news of the accidental death of Mr. Edouard Michelin, the company’s co-Managing Partner. It is an immense sadness for his family, as well as for all of our 130,000 Michelin employees throughout the world. In accordance with Michelin’s established governance policies, Michel Rollier, our current co-Managing Partner will ensure the continuity of the Group’s management.”
Michelin Corporate Home Page: Declaration of Michel Rollier, Managing Partner of the Michelin Group, after the accidental death of Mr. Edouard Michelin: “The tragic death, Friday last, of Mr Edouard Michelin is a trauma for all of us. My most profond thoughts are for his wife and their children and to Francois Michelin, who was very close to him. Pursuant to Michelin’s governing by-laws, as of today, I am assuming the full responsibilities as the head of Michelin. Our strategic orientations are clear. They remain unchanged.”
This tragedy should serve as a reminder to boards about having their CEO successors groomed and seasoned if such an event should happen to them.