The Big Five and the Securities and Exchange Commission haven’t exactly been the best of friends in recent months, with Enron and the other accounting debacles forcing the SEC to consider tougher standards for auditors. But two Republican Big Five partners may be chairman Harvey Pitt’s greatest allies, if the Senate confirms presidential nominees Paul Atkins of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cynthia Glassman of Ernst & Young as commissioners this spring. It’s the first time commissioners are being drawn directly from major accounting firms, according to the SEC.
Some see the nominations as political paybacks to the accounting industry, which stepped up its election contributions by 56 percent between 1998 and 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The industry has also been a major contributor to many members of the Senate Banking Committee, the SEC’s overseer.
However, others point out that neither nominee is an audit partner; Atkins is an attorney and Glassman is an expert on risk management in the financial services industry. They also note that both have strong regulatory experience; Atkins served as counsel for the chief of staff as well as counsel at the SEC, and Glassman was an economist for the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve System and also worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
“I think you need to look past their affiliations,” says former SEC chairman David S. Ruder. “Once someone becomes a commissioner at the SEC, it is very unlikely that [he or she] would be able to make decisions based upon prior associations.”
When asked to join Laura Ashley Holdings Plc as its new CFO, David Cook rose to the occasion. Cook replaces Jim Bellingham, who is retiring from the London-based retailer famous for its floral-patterned fabrics. Cook previously served as the company’s director of retail finance.
W.C. Hammett Jr. is busting loose as the new VP and CFO of Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s Inc. Hammett succeeds Chas Michel, who is pursuing other interests. Hammett most recently served as a financial services consultant before joining the restaurant and entertainment chain.
One Saucy CFO
Arthur Winkleblack may have to play catch-up to Paul Renne, who is retiring from The H.J. Heinz Co. after 28 years of service. Winkleblack, who joins the $10 billion condiment and snack-food marketer from venture capital firm Indigo Capital, assumes Renne’s former role of EVP and CFO.
American Tower Corp. has given Bradley Singer something to sing about! Singer has been promoted to treasurer and CFO, replacing Joseph Winn, who was appointed vice chairman of the Boston-based broadcast and wireless-communications concern. Singer joined American Tower in 2000 and has since served in various executive positions.
It’s a wrap for William Tolley, former EVP and CFO at Richmond, Va.-based Chesapeake Corp. Tolley is resigning from the specialty-packaging services firm because of a management shuffle set to take place this year. He is being replaced by Andrew Kohut, SVP, strategic business development.
The Music Man
Chris Scully is rocking on down to the corporate office of AOL Time Warner’s Warner Music Group. Scully has been signed to the newly created position of VP, finance, at the New York- based record-company parent. Scully previously served as VP, finance and operations, for MarthaStewart.com.
All The Right Moves
William Leiser, former chief accounting officer and treasurer of The Trammel Crow Co., has relocated to The Staubach Co. He replaces Cathy Sweeney, who resigned in November from the Dallas-based international real-estate strategy and services firm.
Robert Hernandez has made like an atom and split from Pittsburgh-based USX Corp., which has broken into two separate entities, now known as Marathon Oil and United States Steel. New CFO of energy concern Marathon is John Mills, and heading up finance at United States Steel is John Surma Jr.
All Chiefs, No Indians?
As if there weren’t enough C-level jobs, now there’s the chief revenue officer. CROs merge the functions of VP of sales/marketing with those of a business development executive to oversee generation and acceleration of all revenue, says LaVon Koerner, founder of Chicago consulting firm Revenue Storm and a self-appointed CRO evangelist. “The CEO is not focused enough on these issues, and the other positions are too focused on their individual operational silos,” he says. “Someone has to get on top of this.”
Someone like John Kao, CRO at The TriZetto Group Inc., a health-care IT company. He says his responsibilities include all top-line issues, so he and the CFO are joined at the hip. “I make sure our deals are organized in such a way that we can see through the same lens,” says Kao. “It positions the CFO proactively, instead of reactively, and frees him to focus on the expense side and financial reporting.”
Some say the CRO craze is just the dying gasp of dot-com- era title inflation. “‘CRO’ mostly came and went,” says Bob Concannon, global technology practice leader at Boyden Executive Search. “I think it was a classic case of title creativity to attract key players who wouldn’t leave their SVP sales position for the same title at another company.”
Koerner takes such criticism in stride. “We’re in the same place that the CIO title was in the 1980s. It’s not surprising that there is early resistance.” But unlike CIOs, CROs may not last. Concannon says that even though CROs are above VPs of sales and business development, if companies can’t afford all three, the sales VP may be the last man standing.