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Filipe Morais (Henley Business School, The University of Reading)
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9 pages
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Field research


The case presents the story of Thomas Cook plc's strategic transformation having as a central focus the role and contribution of Chairman Frank Meysman. The case focuses on how Meysman oversaw the transformation through its different phases and discusses the key decisions made in terms of appointments to the senior team, including CEO appointment and succession, and the overall approach to governance. The role of the chairman of the board finds its most visible expression in the acts of hiring the CEO and ensuring its replacement and successful leadership transitions. Circumstances surrounding such decisions are normally highly contextual: there are no magic formulae to get them right. Such decisions critically depend on the chairman preferences, the company challenges, the CEO characteristics, wider board and top team dynamics, and the availability of an heir. This case takes the reader through the Thomas Cook strategic turnaround where a controversial decision was made to replace a highly successful and reputed CEO who had been credited with success of the turnaround effort. The case takes readers through the Thomas Cook crisis, allowing for tracing the events leading up to the departure and replacement of the CEO. Critically, this is done through the eyes of the chairman of the Board - Frank Meysman - and benefits from insights of other close participant-observers. Importantly, the case seeks to encourage readers to position themselves as to the merits and pitfalls of the succession decision: its timing, announcement and consequences to both the company and the key individuals involved. The case then asks the students to critically assess the performance of the company after the new CEO took charge and challenges them to develop strategic choices for the future. The case benefits from in depth interviews with the key individuals involved in the Thomas Cook strategic turnaround.


Strategic turnaround; Board directors; Chairman of the board; Succession planning; Strategic change; Top management team
FTSE 250 Market Cap GBP1.8 billion
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