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Andersen names new CEO

Andersen Consulting names veteran partner Joe Forehand its new chief executive officer and managing partner to replace longtime leader George Shaheen.

    Andersen Consulting today has named veteran partner Joe Forehand as its new chief executive officer and managing partner to replace longtime leader George Shaheen.

    Forehand, 51, who joined the management consultancy in 1972 and became partner 10 years later, will immediately assume the CEO role, replacing interim chief executive John Kelly, the company said.

    The decision comes weeks after an abrupt departure by longtime former chief executive and managing partner George Shaheen, who left the firm to head start-up Webvan, a grocery service online.

    Tom Rodenhauser, an industry analyst who heads ConsultingInfo.com, said the appointment wasn't surprising. "This is really just the passing of the torch, and [Forehand] appears to be a good one to handle the torch for the next couple of years."

    Shaheen's departure in September from the $8.3 billion privately held company, which he led for 11 years, was the latest example of top industry talent leaving older, more established firms for Internet start-ups.

    Most recently, Forehand served as managing partner for the global communications and high-tech market unit for Andersen, where he helped boost revenue to $2 billion last year. This accounts for approximately one quarter of the firm's overall revenue base.

    Forehand told CNET News.com that he wants to examine new ways the firm and its partners can help clients grow their business.

    In addition, Forehand said he'll focus on stepping up recruitment efforts and head a training push to ensure the company is competitive in the field of e-commerce. He said about 14,000 to 15,000 existing employees are being trained in e-commerce business practices. Andersen employs approximately 65,000 professionals.

    "We probably hire more people around the year than most of the other enterprises," said Forehand. "We will continue to have very aggressive programs of getting the best and brightest talent."

    Yet during a conference call with analysts earlier today, Forehand said he anticipates slower growth for the firm this year. Forehand said Andersen's overall growth rate will fall to the mid-teens this year, compared with 20-percent growth last year, an Andersen spokeswoman confirmed.

    As year 2000 concerns prevent business software makers from launching enterprise work, analysts said overall business would slow. "With that [part] being down and the rest of the [consulting] business being up, it tends to bring down overall growth," said Rodenhauser.

    Andersen, along with its competitors--PricewaterhouseCoopers, EDS, Unisys, and Ernst & Young--have all been touting revamped missions and shifting their focus to the Internet and e-business. In early June, Andersen launched a $10 million global ad campaign in an effort to make the industry aware of its major push to become a serious Internet player.

    ConsultingInfo.com's Rodenhauser said Andersen is moving toward a major focus on e-commerce and the Internet--a big transition for a firm that has spent the last several years focusing on more traditional industry concerns.

    "Again, [Andersen is] trying to reinvent themselves," added Rodenhauser. "That will be quite the undertaking for Forehand. It will be a big challenge."

    The firm said Forehand's selection is the result of a process involving extensive surveys and interviews that involved input from Andersen Consulting partners worldwide. That process was put before a committee of the Andersen Worldwide Board of Partners.