Jeff Clarke recently found out what Mick Jagger has known for a long time: you can’t always get what you want. The former CFO of Compaq Computer Corp. resigned from his post at Hewlett-Packard Co., which merged with Compaq in 2002, when it became obvious to him that he was not going to get the CFO job at the combined company anytime soon.
Clarke, who has been praised for the job he did leading the two companies through a difficult integration effort, announced his resignation in November, days before HP announced plans to realign its major divisions. It had been widely expected that HP’s current CFO, Robert Wayman, would eventually retire and Clarke would take over the role after the integration was complete. That didn’t happen.
“It’s been 26 months since we announced the merger. The fact is, I want to be a CFO, and that job is not available. There is a lot of interest outside in me,” Clarke told the Reuters news service. He says he is hoping to land a CFO job at a Fortune 50 company.
“He is somebody to watch,” says Larraine Segil, a partner at strategic relationship management consulting firm Vantage Partners. Segil, who worked closely with Clarke when he was at Compaq, says she would not be surprised to see him land a CEO job at a large company. “He has all the skills—great people and collaborative abilities—and he brings out the best in the people that work around him,” she says.
For its part, HP said only that Clarke’s resignation was “mutually agreed to and was appropriate.” In addition to the integration effort, he worked to realign HP’s worldwide supply chain, a massive undertaking.
Wayman, 58, has held the CFO position at HP since 1984, and is highly regarded by analysts. “He has emerged as the voice of reason and conservatism in the past couple of years,” says Richard Chu, an analyst at SG Cowen Securities Corp. “My assessment of what he contributes has gone up a notch.” Chu says the notion that Clarke would take over comes from the fact that at HP, executives generally retire around the age of 59. Apparently, Wayman has decided to break that tradition. “This is a new HP,” says Chu. —Joseph McCafferty
An Ethics 101 student could have seen the conflict, but apparently Michael Sears could not. The former Boeing Co. CFO allegedly offered a job to Darleen Druyun, an Air Force procurement specialist, while she was overseeing negotiations on a $17 billion refueling tanker leasing deal with Boeing. He then allegedly tried to cover his tracks. On November 24, Boeing fired both Sears and Druyun, who joined the company in January 2003. Ironically, just weeks before the firings, Sears had released advance copies of his book on management, Soaring Through Turbulence, which includes an entire section on the importance of maintaining the ethical high road in dealings with employees.
When it came to his own dealings, some observers say that perhaps Sears felt he was above reproach. His opinion of himself may have been boosted by the major role he played in the Boeing Leadership Center, which has been widely lauded for its programs on ethics and management.
“One of the unfortunate things is that if someone [is] preceived as an ethics guy for too long, they might think, ‘Of course I can manage this situation,'” says Jeffrey Seglin, an ethics columnist for the New York Times and author of The Right Thing (Spiro Press).
Sears’s contacts with Druyun were especially questionable because when the job discussions allegedly took place, he was chairman of Boeing Capital Corp., the division of Boeing that was crafing the terms of the leasing deal with the Air Force. According to statements from Boeing, Sears made a job offer to Druyun through her daughter, who also work at Boeing.
James A. Bell, senior vice president of finance and corporate controller, was named acting CFO. —Kris Frieswick
CFOs on the Move
Levi Strauss & Co. CFO Bill Chiasson has departed without official explanation. The ailing company also announced it has engaged turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal. Jim Fogarty, managing director of Alvarez & Marsal, has been named interim CFO…. AMR Corp., parent of American Airlines, has announced that CFO Jeffrey C. Campbell has resigned and has taken the same job at McKesson Corp., a health-care supply company…. Michael S. Poteshman is the new SVP and CFO of Tupperware Corp., replacing Pradeep Mathur. Poteshman has been with the company for the past 10 years.