Feature: Building Business

Yahoo's Scott Thompson and the Trap of Marginal Thinking

Author: Linda Abraham
Published: May 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Are you considering padding your resume or record as you apply to college, graduate school, or a job? Think again. This past week I came across several articles at different times and on different topics that you should know about.

Obviously there are the stories about Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s embellished college record. Just a few hours ago Yahoo confirmed the inevitable: Scott Thomas is now the former CEO of Yahoo. Non-existent degrees on resumes are a hard thing to claim “oops!” about. He is out.

What does a falsehood from thirty years ago reflect on his competence to run Yahoo today? Whether he had the degree or not, don’t his recent accomplishments speak more loudly about his abilities than some stale studies from three decades ago?

That phony degree in computer science may not reflect one iota on his managerial skill, but it speaks volumes about his integrity. In all likelihood if he had just told the truth, he would still have been chosen to be Yahoo CEO, and there would have been no easy target for activist shareholder, Dan Loeb, the CEO of Third Point, to go after Thompson, much less win three seats for the Third Point group on Yahoo’s board.

But Thompson didn’t tell the truth and apparently hasn’t been consistently telling the truth about his academic record for years. Consequently, he is no longer CEO, and could be facing problems with the SEC, and his reputation is in tatters.

That leads to the second story I saw this week. It didn’t generate the headlines of Yahoo’s board shakeup, but the questions and conclusion are surprisingly similar. 

Back in January prestigious Claremont-McKenna College acknowledged that a senior administrator had falsified data reported to U.S. News for its highly influential college rankings. The administrator resigned in disgrace. Claremont apologized and hired O'Melveny & Myers LLP to provide the correct data and to detail the extent of the misrepresentation since 2004. Per the Morse Code, the blog of Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S.News & World Report, and based on the newly verified data, Claremont McKenna’s 2012 rank is correct and will not change.

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Article Author: Linda Abraham

Linda Abraham, author of MBA Admission for Smarties, founded Accepted.com in 1994. Since then she has advised thousands of successful applicants to over 450 graduate and professional programs. She has written and lectured widely on admission …

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