Jeff Townsend, Cerner Corp.’s executive vice president and chief of innovation, announced his retirement Monday.
With more than three decades under his belt at the North Kansas City-based health care IT company (Nasdaq: CERN), Townsend will stay on in an advisory role after he departs near the end of the year.
The decision to retire “did not involve any disagreement with the company on any matter relating to its operations, policies or practices,” according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
However, Townsend’s retirement comes at a pivotal moment in Cerner’s innovation strategy as it cuts operating expenses and reassesses its future without late CEO and visionary Neal Patterson at the helm.
In February, CEO Brent Shafer introduced a new, client-centric operating model. A few weeks later, activist investor Starboard Value moved in on Cerner, agitating for two seats on the company’s board and a focus on improving its adjusted operating margin, with targets of 20% for the fourth quarter of 2019 and 22.5% for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Last week, Cerner announced the layoff of 255 U.S. employees as part of the effort to boost these margins and cut costs.
In July, Cerner and Amazon expanded a partnership that Cerner COO Mike Nill characterized as “pretty disruptive to the industry.”
Townsend mirrored Nill’s sentiment in the Monday release announcing his decision to retire.
“The unique thing about Cerner and our industry is that over the more than three decades I’ve been a part of the journey, there was never a lull. Now is no different — I believe another wave of disruptive innovation is just around the corner,” Townsend said in the release. “It was very important to me that before stepping away from my day-to-day involvement, Cerner be well positioned for the next wave.”
Townsend ranked No. 4 on Kansas City Business Journal’s Highest-Paid Public Company Executives List in 2018, with $8.9 million in total compensation.
Date: September 16, 2019
Source: The Business Journals