Four famous business leaders who quit but then returned to the company

Employment & Skills | Reports

Following the news that Superdry co-founder Julian Dunkerton won a vote with shareholders to return to the helm of the British fashion brand, Business Leader looks at four people who have returned to a company to help revive its fortunes.

Steve Jobs – Apple

Perhaps the business world’s most famous return. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was initially forced out of the tech powerhouse in 1985, after loosing a power struggle with the CEO John Sculley. Despite being publicly and aggressively forced out of the company, Jobs used it as motivation for the rest of his career and following his return to Apple in 1996, the company went from strength-to-strength. Despite initially returning as interim CEO, Jobs saved the company from the brink of bankruptcy. At the time of his death in 2011, Apple had risen to become the most valuable company in the world and its products had achieved cult-like popularity. Household items like the iPhone, iPod, iPad, iMac and more have become the cornerstone of millions of people’s live across the world.

Success or Failure?: Big success. As one of the early computer-generations adopters, Apple was in the ideal spot to achieve exponential growth – and they did under Job’s leadership. In the year that he passed away, he had grown the company to a reported value of over £350bn.

Howard Schultz – Starbucks

Schultz’s relationship with the global coffee icon began in 1981, when he visited a fledgling coffee retail chain based in Seattle, who had caused a stir in the local area. So impressed with the operation, he kept in contact with the owners, and within a few years he joined as a director. He rose the ranks of the business and in 1987, he became the CEO. In 2000, he stepped away from the role to take up the position of chairman. Over the next eight years, the companies value steadily fell to a point where it was 50% of the value it was then Schulz initially left. On the day it was announced he would be returning as CEO, their stock price rose 8%, and from 2008 until he left the role again in 2017, Starbuck’s value had increased by over 70%, and had expanded to a global brand.

Success or Failure?: Again, a huge success. Schultz returned and with him the coffee chain restored and enhanced its position as the world’s best-known coffee store.

Michael Bloomberg – Bloomberg

The tech and mass media icon, Michael Bloomberg co-created Bloomberg L.P. back in 1981 and helped drive it into the mainstream media, through its various departments. Although he left the company in 2001 to make the move into politics, Bloomberg remained the majority owner of the business that shares his name. Following more than a decade out of the business, serving various role sin the state of New York, he returned to the business in 2014 to retake his role as CEO. Although the business growth has slowed and the company has sold off some of its assets, Bloomberg L.P. is still a global brand, held in high regard.

Success or Failure?: His initial years as CEO upon his return did not see any revolutionary change, but due to the current issues facing the sector, Bloomberg has steadied the ship. He has made a serious of announcements regarding strategic changes and directions for the business, but whether these make the business grow again remains to be seen.

Michael Dell – Dell

Michael Dell started the tech company named after himself back in 1984, and proceeded to go on and become the youngest CEO of a Fortune500 company. He remained the head of the business for the next 20 years, as Dell became a leader in the tech sector. He left the business in 2004, and was subsequently replaced by Kevin Rollins. Dell remained as chairman for the next three years until Rollins was sacked, and he returned to the role of CEO. Over the next six year’s through his direction, the business lost over a third of its value, as it failed to compete with Apple and Samsung.

Success or Failure?: In terms of competing with the leading companies within the tech and communications sector, Dell’s return hasn’t been a success. However, he remains one of the wealthiest men in the world.

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