Lessons from Huda Kattan Stepping Down as CEO

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

The Right Leader for the Right Chapter


This week Huda Kattan stepped down as CEO from her hugely successful beauty brand.


While some might have been surprised by a founder choosing to relinquish control of their brand, this decision actually paves the way for continued success.


Stepping down as CEO showcases Huda’s commercial and self-awareness. She’s identified now as being the right time to step back to allow someone with the right expertise and experience to successfully execute the next phase of her brand’s growth.


Here’s what we can all learn from this…


Should the Founder also be the CEO?


Most Founders are CEOs, at least for a while.


Successful CEOs and Founders are actually quite rare. There aren’t as many entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Anita Roddick and Ralph Lauren as you might think.


The Founder typically wears both hats to begin with as they:

  1. Create and establish proof of concept as Founder, and

  2. Develop the operational and commercial plan for the businesses as CEO.

Even once their start-up/scale-up has secured funding to expand and hire its first CEO, the Founder typically remains closely involved in creating and maintaining the strategic direction of the business.


The key here though is to acknowledge that the Founder and CEOs skills sets are completely different.


In fact, many start-ups fail because the Founder is unable to ‘let go’ of the business and bring in others who are better able to scale the business.


When’s the Right Time for a Founder to Step Back?


The short answer is - ideally once the brand is established and there’s enough investment to find the right successor.


Because scaling and growing a company requires vastly different skills and experience to establishing one from scratch.


Companies go through transitions as a sign of their growth and development and leadership should naturally transition alongside this. If the CEO becomes less and less reflective of what needs to be done for the brand for it to continue on its trajectory, then it may be time for change.


And if communication and motives are transparent, there’s no reason why this transition won’t go smoothly.



Why Founders Need to Be Dynamic...


Huda Kattan has ticked both the CEO and Founder boxes… and then some!


When announcing the news last Friday, she noted: