There’s been a lot of talk about Scott Thompson’s less-than truthful academic credentials as of late. Most people (except idiots like Dan Lyons) are calling for his immediate termination — and, in my opinion, rightfully so. I’m nowhere near CEO level in my career (yet… give me time, people!). And yet the fact remains that if I ever lied on my résumé and it was uncovered that I had done so, you can believe that I would very likely be terminated immediately. So why is Thompson, someone who has been tasked with Yahoo’s turnaround (a herculean feat that would make even the most seasoned and credentialed CEO run screaming) still employed? I guess we’ll see if the board does the right thing and terminates him.
However, we’re missing an important issue here: what about the board who approved his hire in the first place? It’s not all that hard to confirm someone’s academic transcripts. There may be a small amount of expense involved, but it’s very small… and when we’re talking about hiring the CEO of a major company, I would think that this is a small price to pay for ensuring that you don’t run up against huge credibility issues later with your prospective hire. Where was the due diligence? If I were a Yahoo stockholder, I’d be demanding some board member resignations too… perhaps even that of the chairman. This whole fiasco could have been easily avoided if someone had bothered to make a quick phone call.
Lest we forget, this is not the first time a CEO has lied about their résumé — and most lost their job as a result. So why is this whole business of verifying academic credentials apparently so complicated? Is it worth all of this negative PR? Can someone please enlighten me here?