Who should be Patagonia’s next CEO?
Rose Marcario, who elevated Patagonia to a new level of environmental activism and success over the last six-and-a-half years, unexpectedly stepped down June 10 as CEO and president.
Under her watch, activism efforts notably began in 2016 when all of Patagonia’s Black Friday Sales ($10 million) were donated to grassroots environmental groups. In 2017, Patagonia sued the Trump administration in a spat over Utah’s public lands and spearheaded the launch of its Time to Vote initiative the next year. In 2019, Patagonia closed its doors for one day in solidarity for action on climate change.
Internally, Ms. Marcario streamlined Patagonia’s supply chains and production, eliminating waste and unnecessary packaging, and began using recycled down.
New ventures launched include: Patagonia Provisions, an organic food company; Tin Shed Ventures, its in-house venture fund; Patagonia Action Works, a digital hub for environmental activists; and Worn Wear, an online store for used gear.
Ms. Marcario has been outspoken on the need for employer-operated childcare facilities to support more women in c-suites. Patagonia also noted that Ms. Marcario in May was named number one on Fast Company’s “Queer 50” list.
“Rose has grown our advocacy efforts in ways I could never have imagined,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a statement.
In terms of financial performance, a November-2018 Inc. profile noted that Patagonia’s revenue and profits had quadrupled since she took over as CEO in February 2014.
The surprise announcement, which did not name a successor nor a transition period, nonetheless led to speculation that Ms. Marcario’s exit was tied to a dispute over Patagonia’s response to COVID-19 or to the racial justice protests.
In a statement to Women’s Wear Daily, Ms. Marcario insisted Patagonia had been “planning my succession since late last year and believe now is the right time for the next generation team to step in to reimagine the business for a bright future.”
The WWD article speculated that Patagonia may follow a trend in hiring a digital-first CEO while also pointing to the risks of making a shift away from conscious consumerism. PC Chandra, an adviser to Alante Capital, told the publication, “Finding the right CEO candidate for a mission-driven brand like Patagonia will not be easy.”
- Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario Stepping Down – Patagonia
- What’s Patagonia’s Succession Strategy? – Women’s Wear Daily
- Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario is stepping down – Business Insider
- Patagonia CEO Steps Down, Search Begins For a Successor – Bloomberg
- Patagonia’s Unapologetically Political Strategy and the Massive Business It Has Built – Inc.
- Former Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario speaks out on the Facebook boycott and compassionate capitalism – Fast Company
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What type of skills should the ideal candidate have to lead Patagonia in the years ahead? What’s the next stage that Patagonia as a brand should aspire to?