Leadership Succession Planning

Liongard’s CEO Transition: Joe Alapat and Michelle Accardi

joe alapat leadership succession planning michelle accardi leadership succession planning

In cybersecurity, innovation and adaptability are paramount.   Technology is evolving, and so must your leadership.

Leadership succession planning is imperative for the long term success of any business.  Founders who take on the CEO role at the beginning may reach a point where they believe it is time to pass the baton.  Such is the case for Joe Alapat, the founder of Liongard.

liongard logo leadership succession planning

Liongard, a leading company in the cybersecurity sector, provides a compelling example of effective leadership transition.  Joe Alapat joined Carrie Richardson on the WIN podcast to discuss significance of succession planning, user experience, and driving innovation in cybersecurity.

Joe Alapat: Visionary Founder

Joe Alapat, the founder of Liongard, has been the driving force behind the company’s innovative approach to cybersecurity. His passion and vision have been instrumental in building Liongard from the acquisition of their first MSP client in 2018 into a robust entity serving over 1,500 managed service providers (MSPs) globally.

WIN podcast leadership succession planning liongard

On the WIN podcast, Alapat shares insights into his journey, highlighting his excitement for debating and passion for cybersecurity innovation. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the attack surface and proactively managing it to prevent breaches.

“Why do we turn on the security alarm and keep the front door open? Because that’s what everybody’s doing,” Alapat said, underscoring the need for a proactive approach in cybersecurity.


Michelle Accardi: The Catalyst for Focused Growth

In 2023, Joe Alapat made the strategic move to bring Michelle Accardi on board as the new CEO of Liongard. This transition was not just about finding a successor but about enhancing the company’s strategic focus. Accardi, with her extensive experience in the MSP space and her rapid decision-making skills, has been pivotal in realigning Liongard’s focus on its core mission: left of boom cybersecurity.

Accardi’s entry marked a shift towards refining and concentrating on the company’s original vision.

She challenged the team to revisit their foundational goals and leverage their unique technology to predict and prevent breaches effectively. This shift in focus has been crucial in driving innovation and ensuring that Liongard remains at the forefront of the cybersecurity industry. Alapat reflected on this transition, saying, “Michelle ultimately makes a decision. And in a lot of ways, I’m advising her on things. But ultimately Michelle has to make that decision and align with our board to make sure that we execute.”

Best Practices in Leadership Succession Planning

Identify and Develop Potential Leaders Early:

Effective succession planning starts with identifying potential leaders. These individuals should be given opportunities to develop their skills and gain experience in various roles. Regularly assessing their readiness and providing targeted development programs can help ensure a smooth transition when the time comes.  If you’re identifying talent from outside your organization, begin with evaluating the candidates alignment with your mission, vision and values.

Create a Succession Plan:

A formal succession plan should outline the process for identifying and transitioning leadership roles. This plan should include criteria for selecting successors, a timeline for the transition, and a strategy for communicating the change to stakeholders. Having a clear plan in place helps minimize disruptions and ensures continuity.

Foster a Culture of Mentorship and Collaboration:

Encourage a culture where current leaders mentor their successors.

This mentorship can provide invaluable insights and help build the confidence and competence of future leaders. At Liongard, Joe Alapat’s collaboration with Michelle Accardi has been a testament to the power of collaborative leadership.

Ensure Alignment with Organizational Goals:

The succession planning process should align with the company’s long-term goals and strategic vision. It’s essential to ensure that new leaders understand and are committed to these goals. Michelle Accardi helped refocus Liongard on its core mission – a focus on the attack surface and proactive “left of boom” cybersecurity.

Communicate Transparently:

Transparent communication is key to managing the expectations of employees, customers, and other stakeholders during a leadership transition. Keeping everyone informed about the process and the rationale behind the changes can help build trust and support for the new leadership.

Driving Innovation in Cybersecurity

Leadership transitions, when managed effectively, can be a powerful catalyst for innovation. Liongard’s journey illustrates how a well-planned succession can enhance a company’s ability to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.

Joe Alapat’s focus on user experience and product design laid a strong foundation, while Michelle Accardi’s leadership has brought a renewed emphasis on cybersecurity’s core principles. Together, they have positioned Liongard as a leader in managing the attack surface and driving proactive security measures. As Alapat noted, “Michelle and I are like yin and yang… the original idea gets elevated.”

Fox and Crow Group Can Help With Leadership Succession Planning

Leadership succession planning is more than just a procedural necessity; it is a strategic imperative that can shape a company’s future. Liongard’s experience with Joe Alapat and Michelle Accardi demonstrates the profound impact of thoughtful succession planning. By ensuring continuity, bringing in fresh perspectives, and enhancing strategic focus, companies can navigate transitions effectively and drive sustained innovation.  All strategic planning engagements with Fox and Crow Group follow the Paterson Center StratOp process.  This process includes helping business owners identify and support the next wave of leadership within their organization.   Business owners may choose to remove themselves from the day to day, or like Joe, they may transition out of the CEO seat and into the seat that allows them to operate in what he describes as “the 10x zone.”

Listen to Joe Alapat on the WIN Podcast here!


What is leadership succession planning?

Leadership succession planning is the process of identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or die. This ensures that businesses continue to operate smoothly and successfully.

Why is succession planning important in cybersecurity?

In the fast-paced cybersecurity industry, succession planning ensures that leadership transitions do not disrupt operations. It helps maintain continuity, drives innovation, and aligns the company with its long-term goals.

How did Joe Alapat and Michelle Accardi’s transition benefit Liongard?

Joe Alapat’s innovative foundation coupled with Michelle Accardi’s strategic focus brought a balanced approach to leadership. This transition helped Liongard refine its mission and stay at the forefront of cybersecurity.

What are some best practices in leadership succession planning?

Best practices include identifying and developing potential leaders early, creating a formal succession plan, fostering a culture of mentorship and collaboration, ensuring alignment with organizational goals, and communicating transparently.

How can companies foster a culture of mentorship?

Companies can encourage current leaders to mentor potential successors by providing structured mentorship programs, facilitating regular check-ins, and promoting a collaborative environment where knowledge sharing is valued.

What role does transparent communication play in succession planning?

Transparent communication helps manage expectations and builds trust among employees, customers, and stakeholders. It ensures everyone is informed about the process and the reasons behind leadership changes, fostering support for new leaders.

Join Fox and Crow Group at Liongard ROARCon 2024


Ian Richardson, Principal Consultant and Founder of Fox and Crow Group will be presenting at ROARCon 2024.

Join us for Ian’s talk at ROARCon in Dallas:

Stop Losing Deals: Overcome Objections and Close More MSP Contracts

  • July 24, 2024
    2:10 – 2:55 PM
  • Optum Suites

We have a limited number of complimentary passes available to share with clients and potential Liongard customers.  If you’re currently evaluating Liongard, connect with Carrie Richardson on LInkedin to ask for a pass!  Ask before they’re gone!

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