Photo: O’Reilly Media
Last week, it was revealed that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson does not, in fact, have a degree in Computer Science, as he says in his corporate bio.Now Thompson’s fate hangs in the balance, with many people assuming he’ll be gone by Monday.
Not because a 25-year old degree in Computer Science would help him turn around Yahoo. It wouldn’t.
Because it is simply unacceptable for a Fortune 500 company to have a CEO who lied about his qualifications.
It has not yet been established that Scott Thompson lied about his Computer Science degree, although as more time passes without a detailed innocent explanation of how the degree got on his bio and why it wasn’t spotted and removed, it seems more and more likely.
Thompson’s fake CS degree is less of a whopper than other faked qualifications by C-level execs over the years–PhDs, for example, or MBAs from Stanford–but it’s enough of one that the Board cannot just brush it off.
If Scott Thompson can’t persuade the board and his 10,000+ employees that this really was an “inadvertent error,” in other words, the Board will pretty much have to fire him.
Via Jay Greene at CNET, here are some other senior execs who have gotten the boot for having phantom degrees on their resumes:
Six years ago, RadioShack CEO David Edmondson resigned after The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the executive didn’t have the two college degrees he claimed to have had. At the time, the retailer’s executive chairman, Leonard Roberts, said Edmondson’s departure was a mutual decision, made to address concerns about credibility. “One of the most important things we have as a corporation is integrity and trust,” Roberts said at a news conference at the time, according to a New York Times report. “We have to restore that back to the company.”
A decade ago, Kenneth Lonchar left his job as chief financial officer at Veritas after falsely claiming to have earned an M.B.A. from Stanford University.
In 2000, Lotus Chief Executive Jeffrey Papows resigned, in part, over a resume scandal. He incorrectly claimed, among other apparent falsehoods, that he had obtained a Ph.D. from Pepperdine University.
All those cases were more egregious than Thompson’s. But having a Computer Science degree establishes credibility in an engineering culture–a lot more than a degree in accounting. So, again, if Thompson can’t provide an innocent explanation for how that qualification got there, the Board pretty much has to can him.
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