The Succession Planning Crisis – Mind the Gap

Jamie Livingston, founding director of Livingston James and the Livingston James Group shares his thoughts on the challenges facing businesses on succession planning and how to prepare for the up-coming talent shortage.

At Livingston James we find ourselves regularly working with Boards and SMTs on succession planning; be this benchmarking internal talent or targeting key external executives who can help our clients achieve their strategic objectives. As a consequence, we are acutely aware of the trends that are impacting the talent pipelines of the future and of an ever increasing need to identify and nurture our future leaders.

The stark reality is that we are approaching a serious shortage of senior talent in Scotland.  We know that the current average age of a CEO in the FTSE 350 is 52 years old.  Overlay this on the demographic statistics from the most recent (2011) census and a talent shortage time-bomb becomes evident.

2011 Census Population Estimates Scotland

Based on information represented in the graphic above, the largest five year cross section of the Scottish population in 2015 is in the 50-55 age group. This is good news for businesses searching for qualified and experienced leaders today.

But what of the leaders of tomorrow?

The graph above clearly shows a much smaller generation who will today be in the 35-45 year old bracket (census taken in 2011), which means it is likely that the pool of experienced professionals qualified to lead successful businesses in 10 or 20 years’ time will be significantly smaller than today.

Succession planning has always been important, but at no point more so than now.  Businesses must start planning for the future, working hard to attract young talent, and nurturing their leaders of tomorrow.

Throughout 2015, Livingston James has a run a series of Leadership Conversations as a way to address the preparation of the next generation of potential leaders.  Featuring high profile CEOs such as Ian Curle of the Edrington Group, Dame Sue Bruce of the City of Edinburgh Council, STV plc CEO Rob Woodward, and Brendan Dick, Managing Director of BT Regions, we have invited future leaders to learn from the best.  Our final event of 2015 will feature one of Scotland’s most successful businessmen, Jim McColl, and will take place at his visionary independent school, Newlands Junior College on December 10th.


To discuss your talent acquisition and succession planning requirements, call Jamie Livingston at Livingston James on 0141 375 7333.  To register your interest for our Leadership Conversation with Jim McColl, please email [email protected].


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