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<p>I read publisher Mike Welch’s column of April 24, 2002 (“More boards soon to face their biggest decision”) with interest. Overall I concur with his comments and feel they apply in all instances of CEO succession. While 25% of CU CEOs will retire in the next five years, many more will be in play because of the retirements. Our CU has had four CEOs in its 75 year history. We’ve grown from a single sponsor to now include 42 diverse companies and organizations as well as specific under-served populations in addition to our initial sponsor. When I joined the board in 1969, our assets were just over $3 million. Today we are at $97 million and growing. In my view a CU, regardless of size, needs to search for a new CEO using all available tools. A board that thinks it either has the replacement in house (without a search), or thinks it has the tools to do a search alone, is being short sighted. Credit unions use consultants for facilities, IT systems, and new programs. We owe our membership nothing less when filling the CEO position. Welch is correct when he states that many of us have in essence “anointed a replacement” even if there is no indication our CEO may be ready to leave by virtue of succession plans. Succession planning is vital. However, I believe a board which simply acts on the succession plan without searching the marketplace is making a mistake not only for the CU, itself, but equally for the person involved in the succession plan. Does this mean a person involved in a succession plan has been mislead? Not if the plan is properly explained and understood by the existing CEO, the individual on the succession path, staff, and especially the board. A succession plan may give an individual the tools to be better prepared when the CEO opening occurs, but it should not mean the internal candidate is not assessed against the market. He or she should be selected only if the internal candidate has the skill sets and more importantly the mind set to bring the CU to the next level within the board’s goals. Any search must be open and fair, but in today’s world to simply decide to move someone up within the organization without checking out the market is unfair to all involved. Lastly, I need to add that it’s unfair, unethical, and a waste of everyone’s time to do a search without having an open mind. Hopefully, a new CEO will be around for at least 10 years. The cost in time, effort, and human emotion is simply too high not to do the job correctly. William H. Rupp Jr. Board Member Unity One FCU Fort Worth, Texas</p>

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