Cheryl Miller, CEO of AutoNation, Takes Medical Leave

Cheryl Miller

Effective April 13th, AutoNation’s CEO and President Cheryl Miller is on leave from her position. In a filing required by the Securities Exchange Commission for publicly-traded companies dated April 12th regarding changes in the Board of Directors and Officers, Miller’s leave of absence has been granted “for medical reasons”.

AutoNation is the largest dealer group in the United States with more than 360 stores nationwide. Under Cheryl Miller’s leadership, the dealer group has navigated a partnership with Alphabet’s Waymo. During her tenure, AutoNation became “the only automotive retailer to earn investment-grade status”, according to her bio on the investors’ website.

While granted as a medical leave, the exact cause or illness has not been specified and the leave is worded to be open-ended in the report to the SEC. The team at CBT News and JBF Business Media wish Cheryl a speedy recovery. 

Chairman Jackson Takes the ReinsAutoNation Names Cheryl Miller as C.E.O., Its Second New Boss This ...

In her stead, Executive Chairman of the Board Mike Jackson steps in to fill the void. Jackson previously held the position of CEO for AutoNation and is known to be an influential member of the automotive industry.

Miller’s medical leave comes during a time of uncertainty in the automotive industry and the economy as a whole. At a time when companies look to leadership for guidance through tough circumstances, a change in the CEO and President position.

While unexpected, Miller’s leave may serve to further exacerbate stock market losses for AutoNation Inc. (AN on the Nasdaq exchange). Shares have tumbled more than 30 percent this year. Although installing a well-known previous CEO may be intended to shore up confidence for investors, the opposite effect is also possible.

During the past two weeks, AutoNation has been forced to place 7,000 employees on unpaid leave across their nationwide workforce. Additional pay cuts have been widespread and capital expenditures have been postponed through Q2 2020. Sales for new and used vehicles have been halved through the past two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

A Different Approach by Jaguar Land Rover

Conversely, Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Dr. Ralf Speth is slated to retire at the end of September when his contract expires. Speth has led the company as CEO since 2010, shortly after the brands were acquired by Tata Motors. He’s been asked to postpone his retirement.

Both Jaguar and Land Rover have experienced a significant rise through the ranks in premium and luxury vehicles since Speth has been at the helm. Tata Motors brass have requested that Speth continue on as CEO to navigate the manufacturer through disruptions in the industry from coronavirus. He has yet to answer the call.

This level of trust and faith in an executive is almost unprecedented. Headlines are found nearly every day about top-level changes in leadership rather than a plea to provide steadfast guidance. 

Related: Cheryl Miller Takes the Driver’s Seat as AutoNation’s First Female CEO

Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.

soundcloudBe sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.