Richard Price, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial Holdings Inc., didn't think he'd lead the company for more than a couple of years after his friend and Mesirow's longtime leader, Jim Tyree, died in March 2011.
Mr. Price, who had been president, was thrust into the CEO job and figured the Chicago-based company's board could pick someone to take over from him. After weighing that decision, the board in May zeroed in on a choice, asking Mr. Price, 66, to stay in the top post indefinitely. They want time to develop criteria for selecting the next CEO, and that's likely to take at least a year, Mr. Price said.
“They're in no rush, and I think that they're in no rush because they know that if they needed to act, they would act,” Mr. Price said. “I'm guessing the board has six or seven or eight people that they would think about putting in that role."
Privately held Mesirow, which has 1,200 employees, will almost certainly choose an insider, Mr. Price said. He would like the new leader to be appointed in a time frame that allows him to work with that person for several years before he steps back from steering the company, he said. His former role of president has remained unfilled.
Often, a company narrows a list of potential successors to about two or three, allowing them to compete before a decision is made, said David Stowell, a professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.