Poor Scott Thompson. Just when his plan of revamping Yahoo was gaining steam, the falsified resume (or "Resume-Gate" as it shall forever be known) cut short his stint as CEO. In spite of the "lie" being of an inconsequential nature -- Thompson's resume claimed he had a degree in Computer Science when he didn't - Thompson will now have to add "ex-CEO, Yahoo" on his resume.
However, Thompson isn't the first executive from an IT company to be forced out due to false information on the resume. The ignominious list contains other CEOs, CFOs and even the IT Head of the US Department of Homeland Security.
Let's take a look at five such individuals who embellished their educational qualifications:
1. Ken Lonchar- CFO, Veritas Software
Ken Lonchar's five-year term as Veritas Software's CFO came to a halt in 2002 when it was discovered that the MBA degree he claimed to have received from Stanford was fictional. Lonchar had been on a high with CFO magazine hailing him in 2001 as "accessible" and praising his ability (ironically in retrospect) to "separate hype from reality."
A year later, Lonchar submitted his resignation saying, "I regret this misstatement of my educational background. Under the circumstances, I believe my resignation is in the best interests of both the company and myself."
2. Bruno Sorrentino- Head of IT & Director of Research, Telstra
In August of 1993, the Australian telecom company, Telstra were thrilled to have acquired the services of Dr. Bruno Sorrentino, someone with 30 years of experience and three professional degrees, including a PhD in Physics from the highly reputed Imperial College, London.
By October of the same year, Telstra realized that the Doctor wasn't, in fact, one. In the process of trying to find his thesis to read, Sorrentino's subordinates discovered that there was no thesis since their boss had never attended Imperial College.
Sorrentino immediately resigned for "personal reasons" but not before telling a reporter who was asking questions about his qualifications, "I've got to tell you what you are suggesting is really defamatory. My qualifications are impeccable and they stand, and I will be very happy for you or anybody else qualified to look at my qualifications."
3. Jeffrey Papows- CEO, Lotus Software
Jeff Papows had everything going for him. During his four-year tenure, Lotus' sales had gone up by 30 percent, he was looked upon by his colleagues for his distinguished history as an aviator for the US Marines, which he left as a Captain. He also had a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and he was able to achieve everything despite being orphaned at a young age. And, yes, like Bruno Sorrentino, Papows also had a PhD. His doctorate was from Pepperdine University, California.
In spite of having a life story that's more suited on Batman's CV, some things didn't add up. So, the Wall Street Journal investigated him and soon found that every single thing Papows had said above had been false. The Marines revealed that Papows had been an air traffic controller and had never flown a jet and that he had left as a First Lieutenant and not Captain. The WSJ also found that Papows' parents were still very alive and living in Massachusetts, he didn't have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and obviously, no doctorate from any university.
To be fair to the man, the only things that Papows did lie about on his resume was his rank in the Marines and his PhD. The other stories were, as he put it, "water-cooler legend." In the end, it didn't matter. Papows resigned from IBM (Lotus' parent company) in February 2000, ending a 23 year career in the company.
4. Dave Edmondson- CEO, RadioShack
Dave Edmondson became the CEO of American electronics retailer, RadioShack in 2006 after serving in the company since 1994. His official biography said that among other things, he had degrees in Psychology and Theology from Pacific Coast Baptist College, California.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper decided to take a closer look. When they interviewed the college registrar, they were told that the school records showed that Edmonson had only completed two semesters in the college and that they didn't offer a degree in Psychology.
After the revelation, Edmondson refused to resign and then two days later in February 2006, did exactly that, saying, "When our company's credibility becomes based on a single individual, it is time for a change."
5. Laura Callahan- Deputy CIO, US Department of Homeland Security
Out of all the organizations mentioned above, this one probably has the most at stake. The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for keeping tabs on terrorists and suspected terrorists in the US. As the Deputy CIO Laura Callahan made good use of her PhD and had earlier even worked in the White House during Bill Clinton's tenure.
Callahan didn't have a good reputation at work among her subordinates and she made it a point to remind everybody to refer to her as "Doctor." Richard Wainwright, a subordinate decided to investigate her background and soon found that Callahan's "doctorate" had been issued by a diploma mill, an unaccredited body that basically sells degrees. She was placed on compulsory leave in 2003 and resigned a year later.
Thanks to Callahan's case, the US Government's Accountability department did an investigation and found out that 500 other government employees had done the same thing as Callahan.