Scholastic CFO Maureen O’Connell leaves abruptly

  • After almost eleven years in the position
  • Ken Cleary taking over

(exechange) — New York, October 30, 2017 — Maureen O’Connell, finance chief of Scholastic, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Scholastic Corporation in a news release on Monday, October 30, 2017, Maureen E. O’Connell leaves the post as Chief Financial Officer at the media company after almost eleven years in the position, effective immediately.

It is the end of an era.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, only 18 percent of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months left after more than ten years. Overall, the average tenure of those who left was 5.5 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

O’Connell’s duties are taken over by Ken Cleary, most recently Chief Accounting Officer at Scholastic Corporation.

No reason given

In the announcement, Scholastic did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for O’Connell’s sudden move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of O’Connell was not immediately available.

Alarm signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CFO leaves the post abruptly and without comprehensible reasons being given.

“Termination”

Scholastic said: “Kenneth J. Cleary, Scholastic’s Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, has been named Chief Financial Officer effective today, following termination of Maureen O’Connell’s employment as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer.”

“This change did not arise from any issues”

Dick Robinson, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, said: “This change did not arise from any issues involving the Company’s financial results, which are meeting our expectations, business practices, internal controls or financial reporting procedures.”

It is a phrase that may be intended to prevent false rumors. It may also fuel further speculation and raise more questions than it answers. Such a phrase should be read very carefully. The exact wording may be insightful.

Chaired by Richard Robinson

Scholastic Corporation is chaired by Richard Robinson.

Dick Robinson has been President of Scholastic Corporation since 1974, Chief Executive Officer since 1975, and Chairman of the Board since 1982.

In the position of CFO since 2007

Maureen E. O’Connell has been the Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President at Scholastic Corporation since January 22, 2007 and served as its Principal Accounting Officer from April 30, 2012 to August 20, 2012.

O’Connell oversaw the company’s finances, global operations, IT, human resources, business development and legal departments.

She joined Scholastic in January 2007 after serving as CFO at Barnes & Noble, President and COO at Gartner Inc., a technology research and advisory firm, and CFO at Affinion Group, Inc., an affinity marketing firm.

Read the full story in the exechange report 45.2017 ($).