Sangamo CFO Ward Wolff leaves abruptly

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After around nine years on the job
  • Praise, thanks and words of regret for Wolff
  • Kathy Yi taking over

(exechange) — Richmond, California, February 28, 2017 —  Ward Wolff, finance chief of Sangamo, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. in a news release published on Monday, February 27, 2017 and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, H. Ward Wolff leaves the post as Chief Financial Officer at the therapeutic genome editing company after around nine years on the job, effective February 28, 2017.

Wolff’s duties are taken over by Kathy Yi, most recently Head of Finance for the Global Inhalation Technical Research & Development group at Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

The move is a generational change as well. Kathy Yi is about 22 years younger than H. Ward Wolff.

The fact that Wolff’s successor is brought in from outside suggests that the board may seek to stimulate change with fresh ideas and new initiatives.

In general, an outsider doesn’t have the constraints of an insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions.

No reason given

In the announcement, Sangamo did not explicitly explain the reason for Wolff’s sudden move.


Sangamo said: Current executive vice president and chief financial officer H. Ward Wolff “will be retiring from the company in early March.”

Precise information about the future plans of Wolff was not immediately available.

Share price decline

The change follows a sharp decline in the share price of Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. since February 2015.

Chaired by Edward O. Lanphier, II

Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. is chaired by Edward O. Lanphier, II.

Edward Lanphier, the founder of Sangamo BioSciences, Inc., was appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Directors in June 2016.

CEO: Sandy Macrae

Sandy Macrae serves as CEO of Sangamo Therapeutics, Inc. Sandy Macrae has served as Sangamo’s President and Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors since June 2016.

On the job as CFO since 2007

H. Ward Wolff has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer since December 2007.

Wolff was formerly with Nuvelo, Inc., where he served as Senior Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer until its restructuring in August 2007.

Prior to joining Nuvelo, he was Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, Finance, of Abgenix, Inc. until April 2006 when Abgenix merged with Amgen Inc.

Prior to joining Abgenix, Wolff held financial management positions in both public and private emerging growth companies, including serving as Senior Vice President and CFO of DoubleTwist, Inc., a life sciences company integrating genomic information and bioinformatics analysis tools.

He began his career with Price Waterhouse, where he held a number of positions as a certified public accountant, including Senior Audit Manager.

Wolff is a member of the board of directors of Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Calithera Biosciences, Inc.

From June 2006 until his appointment to Sangamo’s management team he was a member of Sangamo’s Board of Directors, serving as Chairman of the Audit Committee.

Wolff received a B.A. degree in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered H. Ward Wolff’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 10.2017 ($).