CIBC eyes next generation of leadership with executive reshuffle

Leadership changes point to potential succession candidates

CIBC eyes next generation of leadership with executive reshuffle

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is undergoing a significant leadership reshuffle amid growing speculation about the bank’s next chief executive officer.

In a strategic move announced on Thursday, CIBC named current CFO Hratch Panossian as the new head of its personal and business banking division. This shift positions Panossian, who has been with CIBC since 2011, in a crucial operating role with dual reporting lines to CEO Victor Dodig and group head of Canadian banking Jon Hountalas.

Dodig is among the longest-serving CEOs in the Canadian banking sector since 2014, with his leadership spanning almost a decade at CIBC. The departure of Laura Dottori-Attanasio last year sparked further discussion on potential leadership changes within the bank since she was poised to be a candidate for Dodig’s successor.

“Victor’s been CEO for a decade. So, it looks like they’re shuffling the pieces around a little bit and hopefully getting some interesting names some different experience. My gut is telling me that this isn’t the move where Victor’s stepping out the door next month… but it definitely does start the timeline,” said John Aiken, an equity analyst with Jefferies Financial Group Inc.

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Panossian’s new role will expose him to one of the bank’s key business segments, broadening his experience beyond his financial and accounting background and possibly positioning him as a contender in the CEO succession race.

“Hratch’s expertise in financial services, background in technology and innovation, and commitment to building long-lasting client and team relationships position him well to take on his new role,” Dodig praised in the bank’s announcement.

In addition to Panossian, the announcement also brought attention to other senior leaders considered potential candidates for future leadership roles. Head of capital markets Harry Culham will see his responsibilities expanded to include enterprise strategy and corporate development. Meanwhile, Shawn Beber will maintain his role as head of the US business, a position he assumed in 2022.

Treasurer Robert Sedran is set to take over as CFO, bringing his extensive strategic advisory experience to the executive committee. Dodig noted about Sedran: “He has been a respected strategic advisor over the course of his career and will be an exceptional addition to our executive committee.”

These leadership changes are slated to take effect on April 1.

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