The Roving CxO: What is it and why does it matter?

As technology continues to evolve, companies are equipped with a variety of tools to stay in touch with employees outside of the four walls of their headquarters. This growth in technology has led to the birth of the roving executive.

After extensive exploration and consideration, your team has selected the ideal candidate for that vacant C-Suite position. But, you are faced with one problem – this perfect candidate, even after stating his or her willingness to relocate, is having second thoughts. This could be for a number of reasons – a sick relative they must care for or children that want to finish high school where they began. Regardless of the reason, the candidate needs to keep their current residence as their primary one.

 

Your team is disappointed to say the least. You begin considering all the angles … What does this mean for your company? Can you bear to have such an important member only able to work remotely? Should you re-launch the entire search?

 

Some companies in situations like this have adopted what is known as a roving CxO.

 

What is it?

 

A roving CxO is any C-Suite executive whom does not permanently reside in the same state in which the company they are employed is headquartered. As technology continues to evolve, companies are equipped with a variety of tools to stay in touch with employees outside of the four walls of their headquarters. This growth in technology has led to the birth of this roving executive.

 

A prime example of this is Gary Rodkin, chief executive officer of ConAgra Foods Inc. During the traditional work week, Gary stays in Omaha, Nebraska – where ConAgra is headquartered. His weekends are then reserved for flights home to his primary residence in Greenwich, Connecticut. In this case, ConAgra finances both an apartment in Omaha, as well as a corporate jet that flies Gary to and from Greenwich each weekend.  While this type of arrangement may not be feasible for all companies, it bears the questions, in what scenarios does a roving CxO work and what scenarios does it not?

 

When this works:

 

Truly the perfect fit. It is no small task to find a candidate that fits the exact needs of your company and it takes a specific personality to handle the high-level, rigorous nature of the C-Suite. But, if a candidate is attentive and present when and where they need to be, it can do wonders for the companies they serve. The risk of turning the position over to a less qualified candidate, simply because of geography, could end up being a costly mistake.

 

Work balance is enhanced. When an executive is only there for the purpose of work, distractions can be minimized. Some roving CxOs have reported that they are potentially working more because their families are not there. Often, the distance between the home life creates a unique focus and balance that other executives may not have.

 

When it’s not the right option:

 

The cost is too great. Over time, the expenses incurred from funding an executive’s travel accommodations can begin to add up – especially if it is happening every weekend. This remains true if the executive has chosen to bear the expenses themselves. Additionally, if your company doesn’t have the right technology to facilitate this type of working relationship, investing in it may incur an additional, unrealistic cost.

 

Company culture that thrives on executive presence. In some cases of companies with a roving CxO, employees feel disconnected from their supposed leadership. The executive is there only when he absolutely needs to be, and quickly jets away every weekend. Each company is different, but if you’re a smaller company, where facetime with the C-suite is vital to employee motivation, this may hinder growth and retention.

 

It is important to understand the pros and cons of employing a roving C-Suite executive and apply them to your own situation. There is a case to be made on both sides of the coin, but as technology continues to evolve, this is a trend that will become more prevalent. While embracing every trend and change that happens in the business world isn’t a guarantee for success, simply understanding the motivations behind the changes will help each company grow stronger.