Executive Search: Anglo CEO

There’s been tremors over at the mining industry as a couple of CEOs are on their way out. But for this article, let’s just focus on Anglo American plc, the U.K. mining company who’s Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll would be stepping down after 6 years on her post.

Anglo American headquarters.

What happened?

After immense pressure from the company’s shareholders due to slumping profits and shares, wildcat strikes, costly projects, and the platinum problem, Carroll decided to hand-over the reins when Anglo American has found her replacement.

Then again, it wasn’t all that bad for Carroll at the world’s biggest platinum producer. To her credit, she improved relations with the South African government and communities, stabilized culture, and addressed safety issues among others.

But then, the bottom line is business is money to which Carroll fell short. Hence, the search…

And to date, there has been several candidates that propped up: Mark Davis of Xstrata, Mark Cutifani of AngloGold, Doug Ritchie of Rio Tinto, Chris Griffith of Amplats, Philippe Mellier of De Beers, and Alex Vanselow and Chip Goodyear of BHP Billiton.

Searching for Executives or for any position of responsibility is not really that easy; as first and foremost, you got to consider the fit much more than one’s experience. Why? It is assumed that anyone vying for the position has the necessary experience or knowledge of the industry, thus, adaptability to the organization’s set-up is even more crucial. Next, character. The ideal candidate should have a charismatic personality to deal with impatience both from the shareholders and the workers. He’s got to be empathic yet firm to get the respect and trust of the miners, that he values their safety and contribution, understands their needs and at the same time being able to emphasize urgency and quality work.

Aside from this, he should be able to build good relationships not just with shareholders but with the host government and communities to continue to operate towards profitability. The first two requirements, you can gauge through one’s principles.

Finally, the pivotal quality which is intelligence, is made manifest by one’s logic and evolution. He’s not only a great strategist but a fast learner – quick to spot changes, balance risk and opportunities, solve problems, and understand the value of timing. Take note, experience is not a guarantee to a turnaround but intelligence with the said scope is – look around you?

So far, we have heard of strategies like a spin-off to the platinum problem and the selling of Minas Rio as solutions to the Anglo American’s murky situation.

Do you think so? For that’s a bit obvious.

Nonetheless, it’s worth recalling John Parker’s statement: “the Board owns the strategy, the CEO formulates it”. I’d like to see Parker, Chairman of Anglo American, to handle the company for a while.

Eventually, the right candidate is the one with the “least conflicts”.

What’s your take?