Scared Ethical

Plus, CFOs on the move and everything old is new again.
CFO StaffJuly 1, 2002

Scared Ethical

CFOs On The Move

Bank One CEO Jamie Dimon calls on longtime associate Heidi Miller to fill CFO spot… Embattled Xerox names former IBM exec Lawrence Zimmerman as its new finance chief, replacing retired Barry Romeril… Sun Microsystems says good-bye to veteran CFO Michael Lehman, names Steve McGowan, current VP, finance, to the post… Frederick Schiff leaves drug-maker Bristol-Myers Squibb; Harrison Bains, VP for tax and treasury, fills in until replacement named… Robert Dellinger takes the CFO reins from Arthur B. Krause at Sprint….

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective CFOs

Download our whitepaper to discover the technical and behavioral skills needed to lead your business forward.

Scared Ethical

With a surfeit of allegedly crooked executives grabbing the headlines these days, executive-education programs are seizing the opportunity to polish up their offerings in managerial ethics. But de-spite the revitalized curricula–classes feature everything from role-playing to trips to prison–they aren’t attracting a crucial audience: CFOs.

Just a week before an ethics program was to begin at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, for example, 25 percent of the spaces were still available, and no CFOs or other high-level executives had signed up. The class included a trip to a minimum-security prison for an interview with former executives who had been convicted of white-collar crimes. Also on the agenda for the four-day, $3,150 program were presentations from an engineer who tried to prevent the Challenger disaster and from a former federal prosecutor, as well as a battery of role-playing exercises to expose participants to the consequences of falling into ethics “traps.”

But do CFOs want to be seen in an ethics class, an area in which shareholders already expect proficiency?

“We look at this as companies engaging the market complexities rather than avoiding them,” says Scott Koerwer, associate dean of the Smith School and director of executive education, but he says he understands why some executives may feel that attending an ethics course could raise a red flag.

Indeed, “the difficulty with ethics education is that no one thinks they need it–the only ones who take it are the ones who are forced to,” says John Daly, a former CFO who now offers courses designed for executives through his company, Executive Education Inc. Daly recently debuted an ethics class for financial managers that he is offering through state CPA societies for executives who want to maintain their certification. With case studies from his own career and positive feedback from participants, he says the program is selling well.

Maryland’s Koerwer hopes his program evolves and expands, with custom programs for higher-level executives and directors. –Alix Nyberg

Everything Old Is New Again

When Bill Ford, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Co., formally pulled Allan Gilmour out of retirement and named him vice chairman and CFO in May, Gilmour was living a life of leisure in Michigan, which for him meant helping to run his Ford and Chrysler dealership in his native Vermont and acting as director for a few Fortune 500 companies, including Whirlpool and Dow Chemical.

How peaceful his new life will be at troubled Ford is anyone’s guess. But Gilmour, 68, is no stranger to adversity. In fact, he was a 34-year Ford veteran when he first retired from the company in 1995–a tenure that included several rough periods, such as the early ’90s.

Gilmour’s homecoming was part of a major management shakeup at Ford, which saw him replacing Martin Inglis, an ally of ousted CEO Jacques Nasser. (Inglis was named group VP of business strategy.) And his appointment is helping quell criticism of the revolving door at the automaker’s CFO office, which has had four occupants in the past four years. It also gave Ford’s stock a nice bounce, the result of at least one analyst upgrade.

With his appointment, Gilmour becomes one of the most highly placed openly gay executives in America. He kept his sexual orientation to himself until after retiring, a decision he made, say published reports, to avoid bringing controversy to Ford. In the intervening years, however, Gilmour became active in gay and lesbian rights organizations. He has stated that he has no intention of becoming “the poster boy, or poster codger,” for gay executives, but his appointment may highlight the presence of gay executives in major U.S. corporations and inspire others who have been fearful of the effect that coming out might have on their careers. — Kris Frieswick