It's déjà vu all over again at InFocus Corp.: CFO Michael Yonker has rejoined the company after three years as CFO of Wieden + Kennedy, a privately held advertising agency.
Yonker left InFocus, he says, to spend more time with his children, who were then of high school age. Now he's heading back for a shot at succeeding current CEO John Harker, 69, who is planning to retire within the next several years. "It's something I'll have to earn, of course," says Yonker, but he expects the experience he gained in the advertising industry to be an advantage as the digital-projector maker launches consumer lines.
At least five other finance chiefs--Doretha Christoph of Intermet, Edward Jacobs of SuperGen, John Kalec of Clayton Homes, Maureen Mullarkey of International Game Technology, and Hoshi Printer of Autobytel.com-- circled back to previous employers last year. It's hard to call it a trend: catalysts for such returns range from failed dot-coms to homesickness, but familiarity hasn't bred contempt. "I like to feel as though I can contribute right away, and there was more of a chance for that here," says Christoph, whose CEO surprised her with the job offer when she called him a year after she left to ask for a reference.
Wall Street likes the comfort of same-old, same-old when it comes to CFOs. The stocks of Autobytel.com, Clayton Homes, and SuperGen have risen since their CFOs returned. If a finance chief left on good terms, a return is a good thing, say analysts. "Having someone come in who knows the company and the market is reassuring," says InFocus analyst Jim Ricchiuti of Needham & Co.
For the Love of Money
Doyle Arnold is the king of cash! The new EVP and CFO of Salt Lake City based Zions Bancorp comes from BankAmerica Corp., where he was group EVP for corporate strategy and development. Prior to BankAmerica, Arnold was employed at Wells Fargo & Co. He replaces Dale Gibbons, who resigned in June in the wake of a drug scandal.
Vicky Miller is the star of the finance program at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., owner of Cartoon Network, CNN, and others. The new CFO, a 1991 Turner hire, replaces Wayne Pace, who was named CFO of Turner parent AOL Time Warner Inc.
It's a dog-eat-dog world, and Petsmart Inc.'s Jim Daniel is ready to become part of it: he has resigned the CFO spot at the pet-product retailer. Assuming some of his duties is Brian Miller, who was recently promoted within the company to chief accounting officer. Thomas Liston was hired back as interim CFO, a job he held from February 2001 until Daniel joined in June 2001.
Jeff Misner has joined the first-class ranks of Continental Airlines Inc. Misner, formerly VP, treasurer, and SVP finance, was named finance chief of the nation's fifth-largest airline, filling the vacancy created by the May departure of Larry Kellner, who became president of the Houston-based company.
Management at Detroit-based Covisint LLC must think new CFO Paul Kothari is automotive-ated. Kothari joins the online auto consortium, which was founded by DaimlerChrysler AG, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Co., among others, from Comstellar Technologies Inc. He replaces Enrico Digirolamo, former acting CFO, who becomes CFO of GM do Brasil.
If you care enough to send the very best, you should send Neil Glickstein a retirement card. He's leaving the CFO role at Hallmark Inc. subsidiary Binney & Smith Inc. after 30 years of service. Dona Fisher succeeds him at the Easton, Pa.-based company.
Put Me In, Coach
Coach Inc. has made Michael F. Devine III captain of the team. Devine, formerly EVP and CFO of maternity-apparel retailer Mother's Work Inc., was recently named SVP and CFO of the New Yorkbased accessories company. He takes over from Richard Randall, who is pursuing other opportunities.
Tisha Kalberer easily mixes and matches fashion with finance. The 11- year veteran of Giorgio Armani, who served there as both CFO and COO, was named CFO and chief administrative officer at New Yorkbased fashion design house Donna Karan International. She replaces Joseph Parsons, who resigned in November.
Turnaround Turmoilare You Okmart?
CFO Martin Welch lasted a year after Kmart directors brought in Chuck Conaway as CEO and charged him with turning around the fortunes of the slumping retailer. "I thought we hit it off really well," recalls Welch, who had plenty of turnaround experience of his own from 10 years at Chrysler and as CFO of Federal Mogul from 1991 to 1995. "But as the culture and emphasis changed," he says, "Chuck wanted somebody who had a very strong retail operational background, which I did not have."
Perhaps. But Welch's replacement, Jeffrey N. Boyer, hired from retailer Sears, Roebuck and Co., left last November after only six months on the job. He was replaced by Kmart's former treasurer, John T. McDonald, who has the added qualification of having worked for Conaway at CVS. McDonald's fate now hinges, no doubt, on Conaway's fate; the CEO's fix-it plan has so far failed to improve financial results, even at a time when consumers are flocking to discounters in droves. In the third quarter, net sales decreased 2.2 percent, and the retailer lost $224 million (including restructuring charges). "Our third- quarter results clearly fell short of our own expectations," Conaway told analysts on November 27.
As for Welch, he's now looking for board positions where his finance background might help strengthen an audit committee. Of course, there's another nice perk of joining a board. "If the company is not doing well, it is the board's responsibility to step in and evaluate whether it is the leadership that's the problem," he notes. If Welch is involved in any more management changes, it won't be on the receiving end.