Are two PacSun CEOs better than one?
PacSun, announced a leadership transition that will see Alfred Chang, the teen chain’s president, and Mike Relich, interim CEO of PSEB Group, share the chief executive role.
The changes come after PSEB, the owner of PacSun and Eddie Bauer, agreed to sell Eddie Bauer to Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group.
Mr. Chang, who first joined PacSun in 2006 as a buyer, has been president since 2018. Mr. Relich joined PSEB as COO in November 2019, and was appointed to the Interim CEO role in August 2020, after serving in various COO roles for Lucky Brand, Crate and Barrel, and Guess?.
Mr. Relich said in a statement, “It has been a pleasure working closely with Alfred over the last couple of years and I know from experience that our skills and leadership styles complement each other perfectly.”
The pros and cons of co-CEOs were debated after Netflix last July surprisingly elevated its chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, to join co-founder Reed Hastings as co-CEO.
Following recent moves by SAP, Oracle and Salesforce to abandon co-CEO structures, Netflix was seen running against conventional wisdom that contends dual-CEO models rarely work. Critics say personalities ultimately clash and confusion ensues when one person doesn’t have full decision-making authority.
Some believe having two CEOs with unique skill sets, however, can be beneficial in tackling the increasingly expansive CEO role. Going with a co-CEO structure can also give the company the ability to prevent talent from exiting over missing a CEO promotion and in some cases ease succession tensions among family-owned businesses.
Whole Foods, Nordstrom and Chipotle have each had dual leaders in the past but are now all down to one. Warby Parker, Harry’s and Allbirds are among direct-to-consumer brands finding success with two CEOs.
In a Quora discussion, Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal said the goal in establishing co-CEO roles with co-founder, Dave Gilboa, was to “create parity between ourselves — internally and externally — so that we’d both be perceived as leaders of the company.”
Certain executives report to Mr. Blumenthal and others to Mr. Gilboa to streamline communication and overcome decision-making challenges. The benefits include sharing public speaking duties. Mr. Blumenthal wrote, “The shared leadership model is one that works well for us, and is one that can work well for many other companies. But like all relationships, it requires effort, trust and constant communication.”
- PacSun Announces Leadership Transition – PacSun/Business Wire
- Co-CEOs Are Out of Style. Why Is Netflix Resurrecting the Management Model? – The Wall Street Journal
- Netflix Success Proves Two Heads Really Are Better Than One – Chief Executive
- Software Companies Abandon Co-CEOs, Exposing the Model’s Risks – Bloomberg
- Is CEO a Two-Person Job? – Harvard Business Review
- More businesses are trying co-CEO leadership models to help offset exec burnout – Digiday
- Does the co-CEO model actually work? – Fortune
- Why did Warby Parker choose the co-CEO model? – Quora
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you a fan of co-CEO management structures? What conditions should be met or safeguards put in place to assure success for such power sharing?