The news on August 17 that DOWL was getting a new president and CEO was monumental in the halls of DOWL because few at the firm can remember a time when Stewart Osgood was not president. While the news of Stewart’s changing role at DOWL brings pause to some, anyone paying attention knows that DOWL’s unwritten leadership mantra is thoughtful, planned growth with a constant eye toward succession planning at every level, including and especially the presidency.
While Stewart and DOWL’s Board of Directors can take credit for the deliberate and thorough internal search and ongoing mentoring program, Stewart said he was grateful for the transition he enjoyed when he became president in 2000.
“When I took the helm, it was not a rip-the-band-aid-off presidency,” said Osgood, “I had been a six-year employee, owner, and project manager at the firm and when the actual announcement was made, Mel Nichols (DOWL’s second president) stayed at the firm for a couple years to work on special projects and as an on-call mentor.”
Stewart said he plans to offer DOWL’s new president, Jeff Shoemaker, the same respectful guidance and only offer assistance when asked. Even though Stewart is staying on as DOWL’s new Chief Business Officer, he said with so much preparation going into this transition, he is confident Jeff is ready to lead today with little help from him.
“We had an outside consultant assist with the process that included an internal working group with people from various geographies, genders, ages, and career types to help vet and select Jeff,” said Stewart. “The selection happened nearly two years ago and he has been getting a behind-the-scenes look at operations, has been appointed to the Board of Directors, and has been slowly transitioning some of his other duties in preparation.”
Jeff says he’s glad the process has allowed him access to an in-depth look under the hood before he drives the bus.
“Organizations evolve over time, but my focus is on preserving and promoting the soul of what has made DOWL successful for over 60 years. The goal is to provide continuity of policy and firm direction so our staff can continue to provide the same great service to our clients without disruption.” said Jeff. “I am fortunate to have had exposure to our outstanding corporate team. And while Stewart and Board of Directors Chair Kristen Hansen gave me hands-on access to many facets of the organization, I’m glad Stewart will be here in his new role to continue to provide guidance, advice, and wisdom.”