Rebuilding After Catastrophe

As the United States continues to grieve in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center [...]

October 1 2001 by Chief Executive


As the United States continues to grieve in the wake of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we at Chief Executive take our place among the nation’s and the world’s mourners.

Our readers have been personally affected; some have lost family members, others mourn friends and employees. Their businesses have suffered unquantifiable damage. At least 60 companies headquartered in the World Trade Center, and the others with offices there, have been displaced both physically and emotionally. Whole industries are struggling in the aftermath. The airline business, for one, faces massive layoffs, cutbacks in schedules, and consolidation.

In some cases, devastation reached the senior ranks, snatching CEOs and other executives. Their companies are going about the task of rebuilding without them.

Boston-based Internet infrastructure company Akamai Technologies lost its co-founder and chief technology officer Daniel Lewin, who was on board one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. Judy Larocque, founder and CEO of research firm Market Perspectives, was on that same flight, as was Sun Microsystems’ Philip Rosenzweig, a director in the software organization, who had been with the company for 10 years. BCT Technology AG lost three senior officers: President and CEO Heinrich Kimmig, Director of Development Klaus Bothe, and Director of Human Resources Wolfgang Menzel. Medical device maker Thoratec’s COO Thomas E. Burnett Jr. was killed in the Pennsylvania crash. And Metrocall, an Alexandria, VA-based paging and wireless messaging service, mourns the loss of its COO, Steven “Jake” Jacoby, who was killed in the Pentagon crash.

The cover story-Grief in the Corner Office-that follows was not written about the September 11th tragedies. In fact, it was complete in advance of the hijackings. As such, it does not seek to address devastation wrought by the attacks on our country. But insofar as the story deals with the tragic consequences of sudden death and loss in the executive suite, it now has, sadly, even more relevance than it did at its inception. The companies who unexpectedly lost their leaders will have to find able successors to lead them through this time of chaos. And surviving CEOs-like Cantor Fitzgerald’s Howard Lutnick, who wept openly over the loss of 700 out of 1,000 employees at his bond trading firm-will be asked to put aside their own grief and go on.

We at CE extend our deepest condolences and prayers to all those who sustained loss, to the companies on which they depend, and to the CEOs who will lead this economy on its journey back to recovery and prosperity. -The Editors