leadership

Yahoo chief Scott Thompson resigns over resume controversy – and three other executives who have done the same thing

Engel Schmidl /

Who would have thought it would come to this?

Barely a week after Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson was criticised over an error in his credentials that mistakenly listed him as having a computer science degree, the former PayPal executive has stood down after just four months in the job.

The push was started by activist shareholder Dan Loeb and resulted in an announcement by Yahoo this morning. Yahoo named Fred Amoroso as chairman and Ross Levinsohn as interim chief executive, effective immediately.

The company gave no reason for the departure, although All Things Digital previously reported the decision would be made due to “personal reasons”.

The situation had grown worse over the past 10 days. Loeb pointed out Thompson didn’t have a computer science degree, but an accounting degree. Several shareholders joined his call for Thompson to be ousted in an extraordinary turn of events.

This latest development won’t help the company’s reputation, which is in tatters as it continues to lose page views and money – it has had three chief executives in three years, while shares plummeted 31% last year from a peak in 2008.

Here at SmartCompany we’ve already used the Yahoo situation to explain why it’s imperative to check for tricks and traps in resumes.

But it turns out resume padding isn’t as unusual as you might think. Today, we thought we’d take a look at some other resume traps that have landed executives into trouble.

1. RadioShack

Back in 2006, the chief executive of RadioShack, David Edmondson, said he had lied about his academic record, which led to the company hiring a lawyer to investigate Edmondson’s claims. In a statement, Edmondson said he erroneously said he received a bachelor of science, but only received a qualification in theology.

“I clearly misstated my academic record, and the responsibility for these misstatements is mine alone,” he said at the time.

Edmondson resigned, despite saying he would stay on through the controversy.

2. Veritas software

In 2002, Kenneth Lonchar resigned as vice president and chief financial officer of Veritas, following reports he had padded his resume to say he had received an MBA from Stanford – which he never had.

“Under the circumstances, I believe my resignation is in the best interests of both the company and myself,” he said at the time.

The company’s shares suffered a significant amount of damage following the controversy.

3. Ronald Zarrella

Ronald Zarrella was the chief executive of Bausch & Lomb in 2007 when it was revealed he padded his resume, saying he received an MBA from New York University. Although Zarrella was a student there, he never actually finished the program.

But Zarrella didn’t suffer the same fate as these other executives. He was actually allowed to keep his position – although had to give up a $1 million bonus.

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