CEO Leaving

C-SUITE MASS EXODUS…Do You Have a Succession Plan in Place?

Written by the MedBest Succession Planning Team of Julie Rupenski, Melanie Burns, and Katie Piperata


The C-Suite Talent Forecast 

“Forty percent of senior living Chief Executive Officers could be retiring within the next five years”, suggests a 2018 survey sponsored by LeadingAge.  Plus, according to a recent poll, when it comes to Chief Financial Officers, twenty percent could be retiring within five years and for Chief Operating Officers, eighteen percent within five years. These numbers make succession planning an urgent matter for senior living organizations.

Leadership gaps, whether expected or unplanned, can lead to confusion and disengagement among your stakeholders. Having a proactive approach to address a transition in leadership helps to mitigate the risk of diminishing resident and employee satisfaction rates and the overall reputation of your community.

Succession Plans Vital to Your Organization

Stable and consistent leadership is paramount to every organization’s success. A thorough succession plan ensures that your organization is prepared to replace your key senior executives when there is turnover in key leadership roles, whether their departure is unexpected or a pre-planned transition such as retirement. In short, organizations should be prepared to fill executive positions seamlessly, before they even become available.

Board members AND CEOs should, earlier than later, work together to create a succession plan. This begins with identifying those within the organization that have leadership potential and could become future succession candidates or serve as interim leaders if needed. This will prevent the last-minute scramble to find viable replacements.

Best Practices in Succession Planning

The following best practices should be implemented to ensure that an effective succession planning process is in place. They include steps to Analyze, Identify, Select, Develop, and Transition

Today, succession planning plays an extremely vital role within the senior living industry. It will help organizations prepare for the inevitable empty chairs.  But it isn’t only about filling gaps, it’s also about the prospect of growth, viability, attracting and retaining talent, and the continuity of excellent senior care.

– Analyze: Create a solid understanding of the most significant leadership and market challenges the company and the industry are likely to face over the next few years. Next, develop a solid strategic plan and determine the skills and experiences that a C-level executive will need to navigate the company past those hurdles. Write the plan down. This increases the likelihood that it will be carried out. Plans should be written consultatively, with the Board’s full input, and at least 2 years before expected retirement.

– Identify: Consider internal candidates first. You’ve invested time and resources in your internal candidates already. Narrow the field to potential successors who could be ready when needed. If an internal candidate cannot be found, a Search Committee should be appointed consisting of dedicated Board members who have a firm understanding of the organization’s needs. The Search Committee would be responsible for bringing in outside talent for the Board to consider.  This may require partnering with an experienced search firm to assist in the recruitment process.

– Select: About a year or more before a planned transition, the board should start to put the shortlisted candidates through internal assessments in order to make a final selection. These could be competency-based interviews, behavioral assessments, 360-degree references from superiors and colleagues, or direct reports. An organization should also assess candidates against similar C-level talent in competing companies.

– Develop: Offer mentorship programs, job shadowing, and training to help your new C-level executive develop new skills and refine existing ones. Remember that good leaders not only need technical acumen but also strong interpersonal skills, including verbal and written communication, as well as tact and diplomacy.

– Transition: Transition focuses on both the on-boarding process and first 12 months of a new C-level hire. Before the successor’s first day, it’s important that they have an established relationship with Board members, had sufficient time with the outgoing C-level executive, sufficient training, and is aware of the areas that require immediate action. There should be a plan for the first year that includes measurable metrics and milestones to be sure that everyone is working from the same playbook.


Julie RupenskiJulie Rupenski, Founder, President & CEO

Julie Rupenski is the Founder, President and CEO of MedBest, opening the doors in 2001. Since that time, Julie has gained national recognition for providing top talent solutions exclusively for the Senior Living Industry. Julie is a Succession Planning specialist and also a seasoned recruiter at filling C-Suite, Vice President, Regional, and Property level positions.

Julie has an in-depth knowledge of the Senior Living Industry since she previously worked in operations for for both Senior Housing and Senior Living. Today, Julie makes it her personal and professional mission to place qualified people in health care positions where they have the greatest impact.

Julie earned her degree in Gerontology at the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida and continues to cultivate her career through senior living conferences, forums, trade shows, and expos.


Melanie BurnsMelanie Burns, Senior Executive Recruiter

Melanie Burns is a Senior Executive Recruiter with MedBest and serves as an expert in Succession Planning.  She is responsible for the full-cycle management of executive searches, including account management, client consultation, and overall execution of searches for top Senior Living Executives.

Melanie brings 3 years of experience in long-term care to MedBest. This ignited her passion for senior care and ultimacalltoy for recruiting top talent within this niche. It also prepared her for recruiting long-term care executives and how to help them transition to a new opportunity.

Melanie earned her BS degree in Business Management and Marketing from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, and was active with the Collegiate Entrepreneurship Organization.


Katie Piperata, Senior Executive Recruiter kpiperata@www.medbest.comKatie Piperata

Katie Piperata, MBA, CPC, is a Senior Executive Recruiter at MedBest and a Succession Planning Specialist. She has mastered the art of matching top executives including C-level with the perfect senior-care company.

Katie has an extensive background in the Senior Living industry. She has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and an Executive Director of a five-star rated long-term care facility where she was repeatedly recognized for her achievements.

Katie is certified in the DISC/Motivators Success Insight Practitioner Program, a world-renowned program that qualifies her to interpret behavioral assessments that help clients avoid the pitfalls of an unsuccessful hire. Along with that credential, Katie has been recognized by the National Association of Personnel Services as being an expert in employment laws and how they relate to the day-to-day functioning of the search and staffing professional.

Because of her Senior Living expertise, Katie sits on the Board of Directors at Florida Presbyterian Homes, a non-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lakeland, Florida. In addition, she has been a two-time presenter at Florida Healthcare Association’s annual conference and exhibit.

Katie continues to cultivate her career through education and carries an MBA from the University of Tampa and a Gerontology degree from the University of South Florida, Gainesville, Florida.



long term care recruitersEstablished in 2001, MedBest is an executive search firm exclusive to the Senior Living Industry.

We specialize in recruiting top executive talent for all types of senior living facilities across the US including Assisted Living, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, Independent Living, and Skilled Nursing Homes.

For more information, visit, contact us at 727 526-1294 or

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