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Cambridge Elevates Recently Appointed President to CEO

By Michael Shagrin April 29, 2016

Cambridge Associates has promoted David Druley for the second time in 2016, this time to the firm’s top post—he was elevated to president of the firm in January and yesterday Cambridge announced he would become the firm’s chairman and CEO starting in July.

Druley takes over the top role at Cambridge from Sandra Urie. She became the first non-founder responsible for operational control of the firm when she was appointed CEO in 2001. Upon handing over the reins to Druley at the beginning of the third quarter, Urie will step down from the Cambridge board but will continue advising the firm in an “of counsel” role.

David Druley

When he moves into the chairman and CEO position, Druley will vacate the role of president, which he’s held since January. Taking on that post will be Philip Walton, head of the firm’s private client practice. Walton will retain the duties associated with leading the private client group.

In the leadership shuffle at the beginning of the year, Druley was promoted to president from his previous position leading Cambridge’s pension practice. That does not mean the traditionally endowment and foundation-focused firm will be pivoting away from its historic client base of non-profits, according to a spokeswoman.

A number of top executives have left the firm in the last two years, but many went to high-profile endowment and foundation jobs, moves that reflect positively on Cambridge, according to executive recruiter Charles Skorina.

Nevertheless, the succession plan has proved rather smooth, especially when compared to firms that have had trouble with the power handoff from founders to the next generation of executives, says Skorina.

“Founders often believe they’re worth more than they really are,” he says. “It’s usually messier when the founder is giving up power because they have a hard time relinquishing control and they aren’t always reasonable about the distribution of their equity stakes.”

Indeed, Skorina sees the January management changes as a healthy and necessary prelude to the ultimate power transfer.

“This is a classic example of what you’re supposed to do in the corporate world when it comes to succession planning. And it doesn’t happen all the time at consulting firms,” he says. “You spend time evaluating potential successors and when you promote someone into the job you give them plenty of room to work.”

Druley has worked at Cambridge for 13 years and Walton has been with the firm for 17 years.

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