Sunrise Senior Living gets their second new CEO in six months. Wondering what it means?

On November 7, 2013 I published an article titled “Brilliant or Batty? – Sunrise Senior Living Picks an Outsider as their next CEO”  It seemed puzzling but intriguing that Sunrise would pluck their new CEO from the world of consumer products rather than senior living or, at least, healthcare. In the article I more or less came down on the side of brilliant rather than batty.  Then, this morning, I received an email notification of a new comment on that old article and assumed it was SPAM that snuck through the filters.  It wasn’t SPAM but rather this:

“4-21-14 Well, the final verdict is Batty.  Penny McIntyre is no longer the CEO and has been replaced by Chris Winkle. Sunrise, silently removed her from their website and now show Chris Winkle as the CEO.”

The announced change was done in a very low key way.  Yesterday Sunrise issued a press release announcing the closing of their recapitalization that included a sort of “Oh, by the way, we have a new CEO” as additional information.

Chris Winkle

Chris joined Sunrise in 2013 as the COO.  Prior to Sunrise he was the CEO of MedQuest, a company that operates outpatient diagnostic imaging centers. Prior to that he was the CEO for Mariner Health Care, a skilled nursing operator. You can read his Open letter to employees HERE.

Brilliant or Batty?

It looks as if I asked the right question but came up with the wrong answer, since the marriage only lasted 6 months.   I imagine that being the CEO of Sunrise is not an easy position.  Sunrise is a senior living company that is majority-owned by another senior living company, Canada based Revera (76%), and Healthcare REIT (24%).

The Big Challenge

It is never healthy for a company to have rapidly changing top leadership, though sometimes it is necessary.  It can be a sign of bold leadership making things right or a deeply troubled organization.  It is very hard to know which is true in this particular case. I have left messages with Sunrise looking for additional information, but as of the time of publishing this article I have not heard back from them. I assume that every single senior living company out there thinks that the way they do things is the best way to do things for their company and culture, something that is right and good. This could be a huge problem when one senior living company owns another.  As Revera leadership looks at Sunrise and sees Sunrise doing things differently, particularly if there are under performance issues, there is likely to be a great deal of pressure on Sunrise to do things the Revera way. This ultimately means that the CEO of Sunrise does not really have the control, authority and autonomy any CEO of a big company wants and needs to be successful.

A Merger?

Particularly in light of the Emeritus/Brookdale merger I find myself wondering if merging the two companies into a single entity is inevitable.   It would seem to have significant benefits including:

  • Reducing operating redundancies
  • Improved purchasing power
  • A single unified operating system and culture

If you have thoughts on this latest change I hope you join the conversation.  If you have thoughts you would like to share privately please email or call me. Steve Moran

 If you like this article (or even if you don’t) it would be a great honor to have you subscribe to our mailing list HERE