NBC follows 3-Step Succession Plan In Replacing Jay Leno

As Jimmy Fallon assumes the mantle from Jay Leno as the 6th host in the 60-year history of “The Tonight Show”, we are reminded of how difficult key talent successions really are. Especially for successful top-level executives who have made their impacts on upper echelon organizations, the process of executive recruitment remains an arduous one. Case in point, Microsoft’s 5-month executive recruiting effort to replace CEO Steve Ballmer.

Jimmy Fallon at The Tonight Show

However, NBC made all the right moves including:

  1. Choosing a youthful, 39 year-old who brings a lot of both enthusiasm and new ideas to late night talk. Among them, engaging guests in games, such as Egg Russian Roulette and Water War, to encourage improvisation and more frank answers.
  2. Hiring the very successful Josh Lieb formerly of “The Daily Show” as its producer.
  3. Changing the format back to more of a variety show consistent with the original host, Steve Allen.
  4. Moving The Tonight Show to its former home in New York City, which provides a different and unique vibe for the show.
  5. A months long publicity blitz to promote Mr. Fallon so current viewers of the Tonight Show will be more familiar with him when he takes over.

Microsoft too made all the right moves when it chose insider Satya Nadella. In fact, both Microsoft and NBC seemed to follow my 3-step playbook, outlined in my past article, at http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/3-steps-to-internally-recruiting-your-next-ceo for replacing a top-level performer. These steps include:

  1. Having your internal management recruiters recruit the best talent possible.
  2. Grooming and quickly advancing star performers.
  3. Mentoring your star performers.


Following all three steps in your executive recruitment practice does not mean that your executive recruiting process will be a success. However, not persuading your internal management recruiters or external executive search recruiters to do so will increase the probably of executive recruitment failure!

Time will tell if either NBC or Microsoft or both are correct in their selections, but I train all my R&D recruiters, engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters, IT recruiters and technical recruiters on this 3-step approach to succession planning. Furthermore, I encourage all my executive recruiters to share this information with our top clients. The caveat is all executive recruitment agencies are only as good as their last advice. That is why we stress this 3-step process. It is time tested having worked repeatedly for our executive recruitment clients.

What are your thoughts?

Intel Workers Need To Ready Quantitative Resumes!

Due to lower than expected fourth-quarter profit, Intel, a household name in semiconductor R&D and manufacturing, is planning to lay off 5,400 workers or almost 5% of their 107,600 total, worldwide employees! One culprit was Intel’s server chips area, which grew less than expected.

Intel plans to lay off nearly 5,400 workers in 2014

This is in direct contrast to the last 7 years where their employment has increased steadily. In fact, since 2006 when then CEO Paul Otellini engineered a restructuring, Intel’s recruiting has soared. Therefore, many engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters, IT recruiters and technical recruiters had made a fortune from just focusing on technical recruitment for Intel!

However, Intel’s priorities have changed since last May when Brian Krzanich took over as CEO. For example, Mr. Krazanich has increased Intel’s efforts to develop semiconductor chips for wearable devices, smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. As a result, he has planned to not only reduce employment, but also shift employees to different jobs within Intel. This has meant that many executive recruiters will have to look elsewhere for revenues. It also brings up the question, “What should the over 5000 displaced Intel workers do next?”

One thing they need to do immediately is develop a quantitative resume. As part of this process, our engineering recruiting agency recommends including a lot of “numbers.” Numbers include quantitative accomplishments, dollar savings, percentage improvements and patents. Unfortunately, most employees create qualitative resumes (e.g. I was part of the team that implemented the new semiconductor manufacturing robots) instead of quantitative ones (e.g. I designed the new A47B Fanuc robot, which saved Intel $45,600 per day in direct labor costs and reduced manufacturing errors by 27%). Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/interview-preparation-tips/interview-preparation-tips.php and view for more details.

Changing the pattern from a qualitative to a quantitative resume is not easy. It takes a lot of work and discipline. However, internal management recruiters at hiring companies and external executive recruitment firms salivate when they see “numbers.” Also, many job boards and engineer recruitment aids are designed to pick up keywords with a quantitative focus. Therefore, it behooves not only the displaced Intel workers, but also anyone looking for a new job to put in the extra time to make your resume quantitative!

Hiring Errors Prove The Need For Thorough Background Investigations!

In the course of executive recruitment, many hiring companies have committed major blunders due to not properly vetting engineering, scientific, IT and technical candidates. This can create a very costly, time-consuming and painful experience!

This spotlights the need for our company’s main mantra, being thorough. We recommend extensive background investigations including checking criminal records, civil records (e.g. bankruptcies), educational credentials and references. As part of this process we have retained an ex-FBI agent, private investigator, who doesn’t just rely upon mass databases, which are often outdated and riddled with errors. Instead, he digs deep by going directly to the courthouses where key information is housed. He takes this extra care because past behavior is the best predictor of future missteps. We have even trademarked our unique process, which is called Accu-Check™. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/accucheck.php to learn more.

Background Investigations

This thoroughness has paid dividends many thousands of times over including during our 2012 search for a CEO of a venture-backed nanosensor company. During the vetting process we unearthed several DUI’s with one of the top candidates. Though he adamantly denied the infractions, I repeatedly quizzed him about this (Key: I learned from my investigator to ask and restate the same question in a variety of ways in order to “trip up” candidates). One version of my questioning was, “why would you agree to pay fines and do community service if you were not guilty of this infraction?” He folded under repeated questioning. As a result, my client was saved from the trauma of hiring the wrong candidate due to misinformation.

 criminal background check

So remember when involved in executive recruitment, make sure that both your internal management recruiters and external executive recruiting firms engage in very thorough background investigations. Do not rely upon the conventional and often outdated mass databases for candidate information. Instead, physically send one of your representatives to the courthouses in every municipality where the candidate has lived in order to check criminal records and civil records (e.g. bankruptcies). Also, do very thorough checks of educational credentials and references. Especially for scientific, engineering, IT or technical recruiting, the cost of not doing so will be astronomical and bog down your entire executive recruitment process!

Gambling Towards Engineering, Scientific, IT and Technical Jobs

As I reported previously, private industry R&D and innovation can more quickly produce exponentially more revenues for U.S. companies and jobs for our nation’s economy than any direct government efforts. Unfortunately, one field that the government has severely hampered research and development is online gambling.  Until recently the U.S. government considered online gambling unlawful and even charged companies with illegally taking online bets!

online gambling

As a result, other parts of the world have passed up our two, prominent gambling meccas of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. For example, a little more than ten years ago, few could have imagined Macau becoming a worldwide gambling leader. However, Macau racked in $45.2 billion in revenues in 2013 compared to only $6.4 billion in Las Vegas and $3 billion for Atlantic City! This represented a 19% increase over 2012 for Macau. Furthermore, analysts expect Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, to grow by 20% in 2014 and eventually hit $77 billion by 2017!

Additionally other Asian countries, including Singapore and the Philippines, are growing as well. Analysts estimate that 20 new casinos will open throughout Asia over the next five years. This will further increase the competition U.S. gambling centers face.

As a result, governments should not only, step back and repeal arcane laws, but also encourage research and development, scientific breakthroughs and engineering in the online gambling industry. Inspire product developers to engineer new forms of online gambling and physical gambling machines. Sponsor events similar to the Robotics Challenge Trials where the Department of Defense (DOD) has encouraged the development of rescue robots. This will stimulate R&D, innovation and jobs creation.

online gambling machines

Instead of past, stifling legislation, which prevented industry growth and jobs creation, the government should become a catalyst to drive private sector companies, to push the limits of science, engineering and research and development in online gambling. The result will be many more jobs for project engineers, automation engineers, artificial intelligence scientists, expert system developers, electrical engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, design engineers, process engineers, quality engineers, material scientists, game designers, product developers and IT professionals; all professions I focus on as an engineering and scientific recruiter!

Microsoft’s CEO Search Highlights the Need for Succession Planning

As I shared in my last article, trial by combat is a useful tool for companies considering promoting their engineering, scientific and technical talent. It can also be useful in readying a company’s next CEO in the event of a retirement, ouster or unexpected departure. Unfortunately, this point is underscored with Microsoft’s current CEO recruiting to replace Steve Ballmer.

Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates

Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates

Founded on April 4, 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen as a small company to develop and sell BASIC interpreters for Altair 8800 they have grown into a giant multinational with multiple businesses, countless management layers and a complex organizational structure. Also, unlike most Fortune 500 companies, Microsoft has had only two CEO’s in their history: Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

ALTAIR 8800 Computer

ALTAIR 8800 Computer

As a result, uncovering their next CEO will be a monumental recruiting endeavor for several reasons:

  1. They need someone who has a rare combination of countless skills including technology savvy, vision, turnaround expertise and the ability to manage a giant company. Few worldwide have such an amalgamation of abilities.
  2. This is one of the most critical decisions for Microsoft coming at a key turning point in their history. It impacts their brand, workforce, customer base and investors. All can be severely harmed by the wrong choice!
  3. Their past pay scale is considerably under market. MR. Ballmer’s salary was only $1.26 million versus one of their desired candidates; Alan Mulally earned about $21 million last year! Furthermore, the norm, for an outsider recruited to take over as CEO, is a 30-40% increase in salary.
  4. Many of the strong, internal candidates fled over the last decade. This means that the internal “cupboard is bare.”
Alan Mulally

Alan Mulally

To avoid being cornered in a situation like Microsoft finds itself today, it is extremely important to place your high-level engineering, scientific, IT and technical executives in impact situations that can quickly challenge their competences. Furthermore, these situations must be critical to your company’s success. Then judge how the candidate performs when deciding whether or not to promote them in the future.

Additionally, go to great lengths to retain star performers. Even if it means overpaying them, it is nice to know you will have a strong bench when and if one of your top executives unexpectedly departs.

Promotion by Combat

Living in Chicago and being a major Chicago Bears admirer I am among the multitudes of fans that were riveted to their televisions this past Sunday, December 29th during Chicago Bears versus Green Bay Packers game. This latest edition of the oldest of NFL rivalries was critical to both the winner making the NFL playoffs and to Jay Cutler’s future as a Bears starting quarter back. This is the case since MR. Cutler is seeking a huge, new contract to replace his current expiring one.

Cutler during his tenure with the Denver Broncos

Unfortunately, Cutler lost 33-28 bringing his record to only one win and eight losses versus the heated rival Green Bay Packers! This lack of productivity will probably be a major contributor to him not receiving a major promotion from the Bears.

Chicago Bears | Gameday

This trial by combat demonstrates an important lesson for companies considering promoting their engineering, scientific and technical talent. Extrapolated to your company, it is extremely important to place your plant managers, directors of engineering, mechanical engineers, design engineers, process engineers, quality engineers, material scientists, chemists, polymer scientists, product developers, electrical engineers, software engineers and IT professionals in impact situations, like this season finale between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. This will quickly test their mettle. In doing so, ensure that these situations are critical to your company’s success. Then judge how the candidate performs when deciding whether or not to promote them in the future.


Unfortunately, many engineering, scientific and technical candidates flock to our recruiting firm seeking new job opportunities because their current firms don’t allow them better promotional opportunities. Then the previous employer will have to both: a) spend a lot of time and money recruiting to fill their positions and b) wait 6-12 months for the new prospect to go down a learning curve before becoming productive. This detracts from a company’s R&D, engineering and manufacturing innovations. Instead, place candidates in trial by combat situations like the Chicago Bears placed Jay Cutler to quickly test their abilities. This will save a lot of training costs and the uncertainty of replacing a trusted member of your staff.

Ride Robotics Towards More Engineering, Scientific and Technical Jobs

As I shared previously, R&D and innovation can quickly produce a lot more revenues for U.S. companies and in turn more jobs for our nation’s economy. One burgeoning field that is harnessing research and development to drive jobs creation is rescue robotics.

    rescue robotics

Unlike in the movies where robots such as the Terminator were villains, rescue robots like THOR, Valkyrie and Atlas travel where no human can during disasters, like a nuclear plant meltdown, to save lives.


To encourage robot developers to engineer new generations of rescue robots, the Department of Defense (DOD) launched a major competition called the Robotics Challenge Trials. During this two-day event, robots compete in a series of challenges including driving an all-terrain vehicle, turning off a valve and climbing a ladder. The goal is to engineer more human-like dexterity into a robot.

Department of Defense (DOD)

Google is one company feverishly competing to win DOD contracts for rescue robots. They have invested heavily in R&D for both commercial drone-delivery and a driver less car. They also acquired Boston Dynamics, the creator of running robots like BigDog, WildCat and Cheetah, the fastest legged robot in the world at 28.3 miles per hour (MPH). This exceeds Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, whose maximum speed is 27.78 MPH! Leading these product development efforts for Google is Andy Rubin who led software development for their Android smart phones. As a result, Google’s SHAFT robot made a major statement at the recently completed 2013 competition earning “best in task” in four categories: terrain, ladder, debris and hose.

Cheetah Robots

Big Dog Robots

Programs like the Robotics Challenge Trials are one of the few ways the U.S. government can stimulate R&D, innovation and jobs creation. Instead of directly creating jobs, where they have proven historically inefficient, indirectly providing a catalyst to drive private sector companies like Google, to push the limits of science, engineering and research and development, is a lot more productive. The result will be many more jobs for project engineers, automation engineers, artificial intelligence scientists, expert system developers, electrical engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, design engineers, process engineers, quality engineers, material scientists, chemists, polymer scientists, product developers and IT professionals; all professions I focus on as an engineering, scientific and technical recruiter!

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