The past year was a tumultuous one in C-suites across the country. Several scandals and billions of dollars in losses meant that many CEOs were shown the door. But there were also some bright spots at the top of org charts, most notably in the tech sector, where two women were finally given their just deserve. And in the world of politics, we watched (and salivated over) many a dogfight which, despite their lack of beauty, were never dull. In any case, below are the five biggest hiring and firing stories of 2012.
5. Sandberg on Board (Sheryl "Home for Dinner" Sandberg Named to Facebook Board of Directors).
In June, one of the most powerful women on the planet, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was finally named to the world's most powerful social media company's board of directors, becoming its first female member. The appointment came after Sandberg had served for four years as the right hand woman of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's once filthy rich CEO who is now just sort of dirty wealthy after FB's shares have infamously fallen from their graceful opening price of $38 (they're now straddling $27). The appointment also began debate and calls for other high-ranking women in other companies to join their respective boards. Not to mention put the spotlight on, yet again, Sandberg's unorthodox-for-such-a-big-swinging-dame's schedule: leave the office by 5:30 p.m. every day in order to be home for pork chops and applesauce with the fam.
4. Bye-Bye, Vikram (Citi Ousts Its CEO, Vikram "The One Dollar" Pandit).
In October, following a $4.7 billion write-down due to selling off its stake in the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture, Citi forced out its controversial CEO, Vikram Pandit, after a nearly five-year reign. Pandit, who spent 20 years at Morgan Stanley before starting a hedge fund that was bought by Citi for $800 million, took the Citi CEO job at the end of 2007. That is, just around the time the shinola was slapping the ceiling blades. While Citi struggled through the financial crisis and recession, Pandit famously took just $1 in annual compensation. And it seemed as though he had turned Citi around after the firm was nearly done for. But it was not to be, and the big Citi was suffering once again in early 2012 and shareholders were none too pleased with the One Dollar Pandit, voting against his proposed compensation package of $15 million as the second quarter of 2012 began. Which proved to be a large flashing sign that Pandit wasn't long for Citi's C-suite and, sure enough, soon after, he was pushed out the door rather forcefully, the bank's board citing directional differences for the less than amicable split.
3. Bobby D. Slinks Out Back Door, Tail Between Legs (In Wake of LIBOR Scandal, Barclays CEO Robert Diamond Resigns).
It was a(nother) scandalous year on Wall Street, and just about every bank was in on the mischievous fun. Goldman Sachs was publicly harangued by one of its own. JPMorgan nearly drowned due to a man known as the London Whale. UBS saw one of its ex-traders receive a multiyear prison sentence for multibillion dollar losses. Morgan Stanley misled many an investor when the aforementioned social network went public with its shares. Nomura had its time in the doghouse. Standard Chartered had its day in the black hole sun. As did HSBC. And there was that little firm across the Atlantic called Barclays that had been doing its best to make a huge splash here in the States in the capital markets business, and hadn't been doing too bad a job of it, until, that is, a little interest-rate fixing scheme was uncovered, which not only took down the firm's reputation but also its chairman, its chief operating officer, and a man with a name only a Hollwood hack could invent, Bobby Diamond, the firm's CEO who previously served as the head of its investment banking business (formerly known as Barclays Capital) before being promoted to CEO of the whole shebang. Which is to say Robert Diamond wasn't on top for very long before he fell (a/k/a was forced to resign in July), and fell hard in the wake of the LIBOR scandal.
2. Yahoo! It's a Female CEO! (Marisa Mayer Named Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo.)
In July, Yahoo named its seventh CEO in five years: Marisa Mayer, a former Google executive who was kicking tail at the king of search but hadn't been given the support she needed (and deserved) to move up to its highest echelons. The appointment of Mayer, an engineer by trade who, as The New York Times pointed out when she was named Yahoo's chief, "was behind the famously unadorned white search home page and the way users interacted with Gmail, Google News and Google Images [as well as] sat on Google’s operating committee, part of a small circle of senior executives who had the ear of Google’s co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin," made headlines not only because of her gender but also because she was six months pregnant at the time she took over at Yahoo. Which spawned many a conversation, article, and blog post that asked, "Can women really have it all?" Although, to date, the answer is still up for debate, if Mayer can turnaround the ailing Yahoo, it will do a lot for the arguments of those who believe the answer to be yes.
1. Barry TKOs Mitt in the Third to Retain Title (President Barack Obama is Reelected).
It was anything but pretty. There was the 49 percent. There was the listless performance by the champ in the first round. There was Libya. There were scores of low blows and kidney punches (via thirty-second celluloid spots). There were a number of grueling fights against some tough and not so tough (but always easy to ridicule; umm ... ooops!) opponents that the contender had to get through in order to get his shot at the title. And he did get his shot, and he did put up a good fight, despite all his flip flopping and despite all the accusations that he was a humorless man with a less than warm demeanor. But in the end, the reigning champion was too much for the contender, and the wind blew, and blew hard in the champ's favor, across the Northeast, through the Ohio Valley, and atop the surface of Lake Michigan all the way to the Windy City, where the champ celebrated for all of forty-five seconds before getting back to work to try to fix what is still, to say the least, not a pretty situation.
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