Wanted: rising management talent to head major corporations. Candidates must currently hold an officer-level position, be less than 53 years old, and have never been a chief executive of a large company. Likely start date: anytime between now and 2002.
That, in a nutshell, was the assignment John R. Sibbald gave his fellow headhunters. The Chicago executive recruiter polled his colleagues to locate the hottest executives around these days. Call the result a list of America's most-hunted heads, the managers whom recruiters identify as the most likely future CEOs of large U.S. corporations.
The list includes 250 up-and-comers in manufacturing, services, communications, health care, and nonprofits. Sibbald gave BUSINESS WEEK a "short list" of the 50 most-cited executives in manufacturing, services, and communications (table). He figures that most of them will grab the top spot at a major company--not necessarily their current employer--in the next five to eight years.
FAVORITE PICKS. If he's right, then Corporate America's corner office will soon be occupied by a more diverse bunch. The top-50 list includes eight women, such as Merck & Co. CFO Judy C. Lewent, Mattel President Jill E. Barad, and Seagram Beverage Group President Ellen R. Marram. Women also account for 14% of the spots in the full catalog of 250, which will be published in the latest edition of Sibbald's book on headhunters, The New Career Makers. The list also includes a handful of black executives, including Kenneth I. Chenault, president of American Express Travel Related Services; A. Barry Rand, executive vice-president of Xerox Corp.; and Richard D. Nanula, newly named president of Disney Store Worldwide, Walt Disney Co.'s retailing arm. At 34, Nanula is also the youngest on the list, where the average age is 47.
To assemble his collection, Sibbald asked headhunters to identify their personal choices of potential CEOs, either for their current employers or other organizations. More than 600 handed over their favorite picks. To make the full list, a candidate needed six separate nominations. It took eight votes to make the top-50 tally, and the most-cited executive--whom Sibbald won't name--got 14. "This is not exactly a heavyweight prize for accomplishment, but it's an authoritative recommendation in a semi-serious format," says David A. Lord, editor of Executive Recruiter News. "Executive recruiters are good judges of talent."
They're also good judges of the fairly obvious. The list includes some of Corporate America's most familiar names, such as PepsiCo's Roger Enrico, Coca-Cola's M. Douglas Ivester, and RJR Nabisco's H. John Greeniaus. But there are some surprises--chief among them that General Electric Co., which has long been considered a top breeding ground for future chief executives, has just three contenders among the 250. The company boasting the most management talent, according to Sibbald: PepsiCo Inc., which has no fewer than nine up-and-comers.
So, are the phones of executives at Pepsico and other hunting grounds about to start ringing off the hook? "They're going to be approached by a lot more executive recruiters and other employers," says Sibbald. "They're going to be on everybody's call list." And that means their employers may need to work harder to ward off poachers, figures Steven A. Seiden, president of New York-based recruiters Seiden Associates Inc. "It might put boards and CEOs in a more appreciative mood of their in-house talent," he says.
Many of Sibbald's rivals, though, say his list won't have much impact. These prospects, they note, landed on the tally because they're already desirable targets. "These people are probably getting so many calls already they might not even notice the difference," says Lord. Nor are employers likely to see them differently, says Dayton Ogden, CEO of SpencerStuart. "Nobody is going to take more or less account of somebody's ability to run a company based on this book," he says. "It's interesting and it's fun, but I don't think it will have a major impact on anybody's career or on any company's succession plans."
"FOCUSED." The winners of Sibbald's CEO-to-be pageant seem to agree. "It's flattering, but it has very little significance," says D. Travis Engen, 50, executive vice-president of ITT Corp. "Quite frankly, I've been so focused on what's going on inside the company that I didn't have any sense that I'd be visible to that group of people." Engen admits that he already gets frequent calls "generally aimed at filling a job" but shrugs them off. William J. Razzouk, a 47-year-old executive vice-president at Federal Express Corp., was clearly pleased to hear he was included. "Anybody that would tell you that it wouldn't make them feel good to see their name on this list would be lying," he says.
Arthur D. Collins Jr., COO of Medtronic Inc., a maker of cardiovascular devices, chuckled at the news. "I guess first of all I'm surprised and flattered," he says. Collins, 47, came to Medtronic two-and-a-half years ago after working at Abbott Laboratories for 14 years. "I've got a big job to do right now, and I'm not even looking at the future."
Disney's Nanula was also surprised to be on the list. A Harvard University MBA who joined Disney in 1986, he became CFO in 1991 and was recently named president of Walt Disney's 335-store retail operations. Of Sibbald's book, he says: "It sounds like awfully boring reading." But think how much more boring it will be for executives whose names aren't on the list.
The Top 50 Hot Prospects Executive recruiter John Sibbald asked more than 600 colleagues to name the managers most likely to become CEOs. To make this list, an executive needed at least eight nominations. EXECUTIVE TITLE COMPANY HERBERT ALLISON Executive VP Merrill Lynch JILL BARAD President and COO Mattel BRENDA BARNES COO Pepsi-Cola N.A. ROBERT BARNUM President and COO American Savings Bank LARRY BRADY President FMC DANIEL BURNHAM President and CEO AlliedSignal Aerospace KENNETH CHENAULT President American Express Travel Rel. Svces. LEWIS COLEMAN Vice-Chairman Bank of America and CFO ARTHUR COLLINS COO Medtronic GARY DICAMILLO President Black & Decker Power Tools and Access. JOHN EDWARDSON President United Airlines D. TRAVIS ENGEN Executive VP ITT ROGER ENRICO Chairman and CEO PepsiCo Restaurants International LAURA ESTES Senior VP Aetna Life Insurance & Annuity THOMAS FAULDERS VP and CFO Comsat LUCIE FJELDSTAD President and CEO Fjeldstad International CHRISTOPHER GALVIN President and COO Motorola H. JOHN GREENIAUS President and CEO Nabisco Foods JANET GURWITCH Executive VP Neiman Marcus THEODORE HALL Director McKinsey & Co. FRED HASSAN Senior VP American Home Products M. DOUGLAS IVESTER President and COO Coca-Cola DURK JAGER Executive VP Procter & Gamble LESTER KNIGHT Executive VP Baxter International SUSAN KRONICK President and COO Rich's/Goldsmith's RICHARD LAPPIN President and COO Farley Industries JUDY LEWENT Senior VP and CFO Merck PAUL LUSTIG President and CEO Sara Lee Bakery Worldwide ALEX MANDL Executive VP AT&T PHILIP MARINEAU President and COO Quaker Oats Company ELLEN MARRAM President Seagram Beverage Group HAROLD MCGRAW III President and COO McGraw-Hill MARTIN MCGUIN Vice-Chairman Mellon Bank JAMES MCNERNEY President-Asia General Electric LEO MULLIN President and COO First Chicago Corp. ROBERT NAKASONE President and COO Toys `R' Us RICHARD NANULA President Disney Store Worldwide WILLIAM PEREZ President and COO S.C. Johnson Consumer Products FREDERIC POSES President AlliedSignal Engineered Materials COURTNEY PRATT Executive VP Noranda A. BARRY RAND Executive VP Xerox WILLIAM RAZZOUK Executive VP Federal Express GARY ROGERS President and CEO General Electric Plastics STEPHEN SANGER President General Mills RICHARD SEVCIK Group GM Hewlett-Packard Systems Tech. Group EUGENE SHANKS JR. President Bankers Trust KEVIN SHARER President and COO Amgen CHRISTOPHER SINCLAIR President and CEO PepsiCo Foods & Beverages International CHRISTOPHER STEFFEN Senior Executive VP Citicorp RICHARD WAGONER President-NAO General Motors DATA: JOHN SIBBALD ASSOCIATES INC.