You've been named VP of strategic planning: Is it a promotion or your last hurrah? It depends on what your last job was. When a CFO gets "promoted" to VP of strategy, or a similar role, it's often a thinly veiled segue to retirement.
"It's generally a step out," says E. Peter McLean, who heads The Financial Officer Practice at Spencer Stuart. "It seems to happen when there's a chance to bring in a hot new CFO. The company bridges the experience of the current CFO by naming him to this rather nebulous role."
There are several recent examples. Jesse Greene, former CFO of Compaq Computer Corp., was named SVP of strategic planning in March, and announced his retirement in June. Zita Cobb, former CFO of JDS Fitel Inc. (later JDS Uniphase Corp.), was named EVP of strategy and business development in May 2000, and took a leave this past April to sail around the world. Joy Covey, former CFO of Amazon .com Inc., became SVP of corporate strategy, research and development, then left in April 2000.
On the flip side, if you're not a CFO, a VP of strategy gig can be a stepping-stone. PepsiCo Inc. CFO Indra Nooyi was previously SVP of corporate strategy and development. James Keane was SVP of corporate strategy prior to landing the CFO spot at Steelcase Inc. in February.
There are exceptions, of course. Dennis Carey, former CFO of The Home Depot Inc., was named EVP of business development, strategy, and corporate operations in May. McLean and other observers agree that the move will end up being a pathway to bigger things for the former General Electric finance exec.
"In his case," says McLean, "it's a real job."
It's time to get things started at The Jim Henson Co. (headquartered in Hollywood), where Nancy H. Schultz has just been named CFO. Schultz, 37, worked on the Jim Henson account for eight years while a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, her most recent position. She replaces Linda Govreau, who is pursuing other interests.
Matthew H. Paull, 49, must be one of Ronald's best friends. Paull was recently promoted to EVP and CFO of fast-food giant McDonald's Corp., based in Oak Brook, Ill. He replaces 26-year veteran Michael Conley, who has retired.
Henry Salvo certainly has no reason to whine! Salvo, formerly VP and treasurer of The Clorox Co., was named EVP and CFO at New Yorkbased winemaker and marketer Robert Mondavi Co. Salvo, 53, replaces Gregory Evans, who moved into the president and CEO slots, succeeding R. Michael Mondavi, who became chairman in May.
Accenture Wants You! Harry L. You, that is. You, 42, previously a managing director at Morgan Stanley, was named to head up finance at the New Yorkbased consulting services firm. Former Accenture CFO Mike McGrath has moved into the position of treasurer, and is now responsible for treasury and tax functions.
It seems the fizz has gone out of the CFO role for Lionell L. Nowell. Nowell had been finance chief at Somers, N.Y.-based Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. for a little under a year before he left to pursue other opportunities. His replacement, Alfred H. Drewes, 45, previously served as SVP and CFO for Pepsi-Cola International.
A YALE TALE
Yale University, in New Haven, Conn., has a new big finance man on campus: Robert L. Culver. Culver, who most recently served as EVP and CFO of Cabot Corp., was named VP for finance and administration, replacing Joseph Mullinix, who has taken on the job of CFO at the University of California.
Greg Levin must sure love pizza, dude. The former VP of finance and controller at The California Pizza Kitchen Inc. was named CFO of the dining chain, headquartered in Los Angeles. The 34-year-old finance chief replaces H.G. "Carey" Carrington Jr., who is leaving the company to join U.S. Restaurant Properties Inc. as COO and CFO.
Riding shotgun for General Motors Corp. CFO John Devine is 42-year-old Eric Feldstein, who was named treasurer and VP of finance. Feldstein, formerly treasurer and VP of the company, is responsible for treasury operations in New York, Detroit, Brussels, and Singapore. He is also accountable for the controller and worldwide tax staff.
Can William L. Flaherty help restore Polaroid Corp.'s tarnished image? He sure has a lot to focus on.
Flaherty, 53, took over the EVP and CFO roles in June, just as the struggling instant-photography concern, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. He replaced Carl L. Lueders, acting CFO since the January resignation of Judith G. Boynton, who left a day before Polaroid reported a fourth-quarter loss.
The picture hasn't been pretty since her departure. In the first quarter of 2001, which ended April 1, the company reported a loss of $90.9 million on revenue that declined 18 percent, to $331 million. In June, the company announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, reducing its workforce by 35 percent so far this year. And three times in 2001, Polaroid has sought waivers on its bank loans. The last time, in July, the waiver was granted only in exchange for Polaroid's promise to default on $575 million in bonds.
The new CFO has a "very tough job ahead of him," says Ulysses Yannas, an analyst with Buckman, Buckman & Reid, who believes Flaherty "went into the job with his eyes open." The company hopes to find a buyer for all or part of its operations while also working out a debt-restructuring plan--strategies in which Flaherty will obviously play a lead role. Fundamentally, says Yannas, the key to the Polaroid situation "is money, and money means the CFO."