31st Jul 2013

How can Robert Marcus prepare for his First 100 Days?

Time Warner Cable (TWC) - the second largest cable company in the US behind only Comcast - last week announced that current CEO and chairman Glenn Britt will step down at the end of the year, with current COO and president Robert Marcus replacing him in January 2014. The announcement does not come as a surprise – there have been succession discussions going on for years, and Marcus has reportedly been in line for the top job since 2010.

Britt (64) was CEO for 12 years, during which time the television industry has changed considerably. Marcus (48) is taking over a company which has been transformed in the last decade. While TWC’s original focus was on providing cable television, the company now considers internet broadband its main product. Of course this doesn’t mean that TWC can afford to drop its television subscribers, and this is where the challenge will lie for Marcus. His ability to effectively adapt to changes in the market will be imperative to his success as CEO. In the wake of the broadband revolution there is a real fear that homeowners may drop cable subscriptions altogether in exchange for broadband.

So, who is Robert Marcus?

Marcus earned a BA from Brown University, and left Columbia Law School with a JD in 1990. He started his career practicing law, before joining Time Warner Inc in 1998. Marcus joined TWC in 2005, was CFO by 2008 and COO by 2010. TWC was originally controlled by Time Warner Inc until it became an independent company in 2009; Marcus is acknowledged as having a pivotal role in this spinoff. TWC has said that Marcus has the "vision, financial prowess, operating acumen and unrelenting drive" for the top job.

Last week we mentioned the universal transition challenges any new leader can expect to face as they start their new role. But, as an internal appointee Marcus can expect to face a unique set of challenges. Below are listed the key points to remember when promoted internally:

Let go of your previous role

As a known entity within a company it can be easy to remain involved in your previous role. But you must detach 100% from the old role and focus 100% on the new role - a clean break  is vital for a clear perspective on the new position.

Use your emotional intelligence

You may find yourself managing people who were previously your peers, and others who applied unsuccessfully for your position. This can be emotionally taxing, and a high level of emotional intelligence will be needed. Patience, resilience and a clear vision will guide you through this challenge.

Deal effectively with your predecessor

It is vital to make a meaningful impact early in your new role. Yet in some cases suggested changes may be seen as a critique of your predecessor. You will need tact, along with a detailed first 100 days plan outlining a clear route to success, to overcome such difficulties.

Marcus will want to be on track for success from his first day, by addressing the above key issues he should be confident he can keep his focus on the main priorities, to ensure a successful first 100 days, and beyond.

Hilda Goold

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