Antonio Perez and the Problem with Predictions

Watching Antonio Perez sound the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday reminded me of something I wrote about a year ago as part of InfoTrends’ On Demand Road Map of predictions for 2013:

“A key question moving forward is whether or not current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Antonio Perez continues in his role or retires after many years of service and a grueling bankruptcy process. Kodak is now out from under the unsustainable financial burden of legacy promises made to employees and retirees when Kodak had more than 100,000 employees. It has a strong foundation of products, personnel, and future technologies. InfoTrends anticipates that once the bankruptcy proceedings and intellectual property (IP) sales are fully completed, Mr. Perez will move on and that Kodak will promote someone from within to take the leadership role.”

Well, I was wrong.

A year has passed and Antonio Perez is still Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Kodak. Nor does there appear to be any move to promote the next leader of Kodak from within its ranks. If that had been in the cards it probably would have happened by now.

Of course it’s always risky making predictions, but honestly, at the time I made this one it seemed like a slam dunk. Who wouldn’t have said that after doing the heavy lifting of getting through the Chapter 11 process, Antonio Perez would want to move on to greener pastures? Would he see himself as the right leader to take Kodak into the future? And weren’t there at least a couple of promising internal candidates within Kodak with the focus on graphic communications that ought to be required moving forward?

The real puzzler came in August when Perez announced that he was committed to a one-year CEO transition and a two-year advisory role. We will probably see a new Kodak CEO in 2014, but it may not be until late in the year and it may not be an internal candidate.

I think it is in Kodak’s best interest to move as quickly as possible and name their next CEO. Kodak has a fresh start and needs a leader to implement their new strategy. I can think of several worthy industry executive candidates who have the management experience, a clear understanding of the new Kodak’s markets, and a true passion for the graphic communications industry.

I hope Kodak appoints a new CEO soon, because for many reasons, including purely symbolic ones, the new Kodak needs a new leader.

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