Aristocrat on the ball with CEO succession planning

Aristocrat on the ball with CEO succession planning

Thursday, November 10, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
Trevor Croker in as CEO (Elect) after eight years under Jamie Odell

Australian gaming machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure has moved quickly after CEO & managing director Jamie Odell announced he was to leave the company in February.

The firm has speedily identified and announced Trevor Croker as CEO (Elect) and revealed that an ‘orderly and phased transition process’ has begun, with Odell continuing to lead the business until Croker assumes the CEO role formally from 1 March 2017.

The speed of the announcement is no doubt meant to reassure investors that there is a plan going forward, especially as Odell’s eight year tenure as CEO saw the company’s market capitalisation grow from around $1.7 billion at the time of his appointment to a recent all-time high of around $10.6 billion.

As if to reassure the market further, Aristocrat revealed that Croker would be relocating to the US ‘in recognition of the fact that North America generates Aristocrat’s largest revenues and offers the business its most significant strategic opportunities’.

Chairman Dr Ian Blackburne suggested that Odell had sowed the seeds for his succession for a while now. “Jamie Odell has been strengthening Aristocrat’s executive ranks over a number years, which the performance of the business makes plain. In considering candidates for the CEO role, the Board was fortunate to have a strong slate of internal candidates who offered appropriate continuity in terms of strategy, culture and performance and also performed extremely well against external benchmarks.

“The Board weighed these advantages against a potential external appointment and also sought the advice of independent experts. It was very clear that an internal appointment was in the best interests of the business and shareholders, and that Trevor was the ideal choice for the role.”

Croker is currently executive vice president global product & insights, but has been with Aristocrat since 2009 when he joined from Fosters Australia as the firm's managing director for ANZ. The company says that Croker transformed Aristocrat’s underperforming Australia and New Zealand operations by boosting sales and marketing capability, rebuilding the product portfolio around customer and market needs, attracting outstanding creative and technical talent and improving customer relationships. From 2011 – 2015, ANZ revenues grew almost 200% and the business significantly grew its share of new sales across key markets.

Odell agrees with his appointment as well: “I am proud of everything our team has achieved at Aristocrat over the past eight years. We have established sustained momentum in our core business, and made significant progress in driving recurring revenues, exiting distracting businesses, executing accretive M&A and overhauling our organisational culture and structures.

“I will remain fully focused on leading the business over the coming period, but with the business in excellent shape, I believe it’s an appropriate time to begin the CEO transition process. Trevor Croker is an outstanding leader who is widely respected both within Aristocrat and among our stakeholders, and will bring fresh perspectives to the role to drive the business forward.”

Totally Gaming says: Aristocrat’s governance has been extremely on the ball when announcing the stepping down of an extremely successful CEO after an eight-year tenure. But Trevor Croker’s swift appointment and relocation shows that the company is aware that it needed to be perceived as in control of the matter and indeed seems to have handled the succession planning extremely professionally.

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