Founder CEO Transition at Code2040 (A)

By Fern Mandelbaum, Dione Chen
2018 | Case No. E658A | Length 15 pgs.

Code2040 is a not-for-profit organization founded by two Stanford MBA classmates to build pathways for black and LatinX college students to gain experience with technology companies and successfully launch careers after graduation. This case continues an earlier case about the founding and early years of Code2040. It picks up with the 2016 election of US President Donald Trump. His election led to dramatic changes in the environment and support for diversity initiatives in which Code2040 operates. As a result of this singular external factor, in 2017, Code2040 faced unprecedented and unanticipated challenges in securing industry support for programs.

This case presents the acute personal and professional questions and issues that faced founder CEO Laura Weidman-Powers at this critical juncture in Code2040’s existence. Key questions included:

  • What shifts in strategy are required to ensure continued organizational survival and effectiveness in a vastly changed landscape? How should she manage the change?
  • How can a founder CEO devise and implement a successor plan that meets both personal and organizational priorities?
  • What can a board do to devise and implement a successor plan that meets an organization’s priorities and will enable future growth and success in accomplishing its mission?

  • The case is presented in two parts. Part A leads up to the founder CEO’s decision to step down. Part B asks students to consider how to execute the CEO transition. Detailed teaching notes provide insights from key stakeholders, including board members, founder and new CEO, and member of the Code2040 staff regarding what actually occurred. Importantly, the case includes each person’s recommendations for how to plan for and implement CEO transitions.

    Also see: E658 (B): Founder CEO Transition at Code2040 (B): How Should Code2040 Execute the Switchover?

Learning Objective

This case encourages students to identify steps that a new non-founder CEO can take to drive change and ensure an organization’s continued survival in a dramatically changing landscape. 1. What should a founder CEO do to manage a strategic shift in an organization? What choices did Code2040’s CEO have in navigating challenges? 2. What can a CEO and board do to plan for successor CEO transitions? 3. How can a founder CEO help or hurt a new non-founder CEO succeed?
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