Facing Significant Industry Challenges, CACDS Seeks Stability with Interim Leader

1 April 2012

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When the Canadian Association Chain of Drug Stores (CACDS) found itself at a leadership crossroads, the board of directors knew they needed an interim solution – and fast. After initiating a governance renewal process and consulting with key members, CACDS was faced with making some significant changes to their organization. So when their CEO told them it was time for her to move on, they turned to Odgers Interim to help fill the void.

“It was a challenging time for the CACDS and we couldn’t afford not to have anyone at the helm,” says Sandra Aylward, former board chair and vice president of professional and regulatory affairs at Sobeys Pharmacy Group. “We needed to communicate to our members that we had matters well in hand because there were lots of critical issues affecting the industry at the time. We were impressed at how quickly Odgers Interim responded. The previous CEO’s last day was the 13th of April and by the first week in May, I was in the new Interim CEO’s office for orientation. It was like lightning.”

Hiring an experience interim leader pays off

Having seen the value of an interim executive when chairing the board of a provincial association, Sandra knew that CACDS needed someone with experience to come in and stabilize the organization. Praising Odgers Interim for a very focused selection process which delivered outstanding candidates, Sandra and her hiring committee selected Ian McKinnon – a proven CEO and senior executive with 30 years of technology experience, including a number of turn-arounds, who had been doing consulting and interim work since 2007.

Turns out Ian’s trial-by-fire background came in handy when CACDS was faced with some highly politically-charged issues, only a few weeks after he had joined the organization. “Ian was immediately tested,” says Sandra. “He had to make some very quick decisions about advocacy issues and he was getting a lot of suggestions from members to go in various directions. In the end he was not reactive. He consulted and took the advice of his staff, who were experts in their fields. This really showed us what he was made of.”

Quick ramp up, quick results

Having spent 8 months in the Interim role at CACDS, Ian attributes his success to being able to take both a short and long term view in his role. “You can’t go in thinking you’re only going to run things for a few months,” says Ian. “You need to be prepared to make the necessary changes, as difficult as they are. You also need to ramp up quickly and be able to focus on the right strategic issues such as: Is there a clear vision? Do you have the right people in place?”

Sandra concurs, saying that CACDS was amazed at how quickly Ian got up to speed on the issues they were dealing with. “Ian was a great day-to-day leader, from the get- go,” she adds. “He developed excellent working relationships with the staff and board. He even did a business plan knowing he wouldn’t be there to execute it. And he exerted an incredible amount of financial vigilance. He was a great fit for CACDS and is one of the main reasons we hired Odgers to find our permanent CEO, because we knew we could trust them and that they would deliver.”


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