Early today Susan Arnold, the president of Proctor & Gamble Corporation’s (P&G) global business units announced she would retire effective September 1. Arnold actually stepped down from her position today and until her retirement will be working on special assignement to P&G’s CEO. A.G. Lafley.
Arnold, who as been considered one of the most powerful business women in the world, has since 2007 been considered a potential contender for P&G’s CEO job should its highly regarded CEO, A.G. Lafley decide to retire. Lafley has continued to consistently state he has no intention of resigning in the forseeable future (check earlier blog). Lafley is currently 61 years of age and manadatory retirement at P&G is 65. Arnold along with P&G’s chief operating officer Robert A. McDonald who are both 55 years of age have been touted by analysts as the two top contenders for Lafley’s position.
Arnold’s announced resignation has put McDonald at the front of the pack as Lafley’s ultimate successor. According to the Cincinatti Inquirer,
Her imminent departure appears to clear up the succession picture, leaving Chief Operating Officer Robert McDonald as the leading candidate to take over for Lafley. P&G historically picks a CEO from its executive ranks.
Despite all the denials by the firm, the question remains was Arnold pushed, and if so, does she expect at some point to take another position somewhere else? According to a story by Lisa Blank Fasig in the St. Louis Business Journal P&G’s spokesman Paul Fox said,
… it was Arnold’s longtime intention to retire when she turned 55, which she did on March 8.
Fox also said that Arnold ” has no plans to join another company at this time.” But she will continue to serve on the boards of the Walt Disney Co., McDonald’s, Catalyst and Save the Children.
The article went on to state,
In recent months, analysts have wondered if Arnold has fallen from favor with P&G because of struggles within the beauty care business, and particularly with the Pantene brand. Fox said such events played no role in her retirement.
I would recommend followers of Arnold’s career or people interested in qualified CEO possiblilities for top firms keep a close eye on Arnold for the next two years. We may see her unexpectedly pop up for a top position at some other top firm in the future.