Hill CFO John Fanelli leaves abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After around eleven years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Fanelli
  • Marco Martinez taking over in the interim
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 14, 2017 — John Fanelli, finance chief of Hill, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Hill International, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, John Fanelli has already left the post as Chief Financial Officer at the construction consulting firm after around eleven years in the position, effective November 10, 2017.

It is the end of an era.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months was 5.6 years, according to data compiled by exechange. Only 18 percent of the CFOs who departed over the past twelve months left the position after more than ten years.

Fanelli’s move comes six months after Paul Evans took over as CEO of Hill International, Inc.

Furthermore, Fanelli’s move comes 13 months after Craig L. Martin took over as chairman of Hill International, Inc.

Hill will undertake a search for a successor.

Fanelli’s duties are taken over in the interim by Marco Martinez, most recently Chief Financial Officer at Pernix Group, Inc.

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

No reason given

In the announcement, Hill did not explicitly explain the obviously compelling reason for Fanelli’s sudden move, opening the door for speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of Fanelli 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.


Hill said: “Hill International … announced today the retirement of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer John Fanelli III and the appointment of Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Financial Officer, Marco Martinez.”

Hill further said: “On November 10, 2017, John Fanelli, III, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hill International, Inc. …, notified the Company of his decision to retire and resign, effective immediately.”

“Not due to any disagreement”

“Mr. Fanelli’s retirement and resignation were not due to any disagreement with the Company,” Hill said.

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 Craig L. Martin

Hill International, Inc. is chaired by Craig L. Martin.

Craig L. Martin has been Executive Chairman since May 2017 and Chairman of the Board of Directors since October 2016.

CEO: Paul Evans

Paul Evans serves as CEO of Hill International, Inc. Paul Evans has been Interim Chief Executive Officer since May, 2017.

In the position of CFO since 2006

John Fanelli served as the Chief Financial Officer of Hill International, Inc. since September 6, 2006.

John Fanelli was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hill International.

Fanelli oversaw all of the firm’s financial functions and was responsible for accounting, taxes, financing, Sarbanes Oxley compliance, cash management and internal and external financial reporting and analysis.

He has more than 30 years of experience in accounting, auditing and finance, primarily for publicly-traded companies.

Prior to joining Hill, Fanelli was Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer from 2003 to 2006 with CDI Corp. (NYSE:CDI), a Philadelphia-based professional services and outsourcing firm with expertise in engineering, technical services and information technology.

Before that, he worked for 18 years for Hunt Corporation, then a New York Stock Exchange-traded manufacturer and marketer of office products.

At Hunt, he served as Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer, from 1995 to 2003, and before that as Director of Budgeting, Financial Analysis and Control, from 1985 to 1995.

Before that, Fanelli spent eight years in various accounting and auditing positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers (previously Coopers & Lybrand).

Fanelli also served as an independent Financial Consultant, providing financial consulting services to businesses.

Fanelli earned a B.S. in Accounting from LaSalle University.

Fanelli is a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is a certified public accountant in Pennsylvania.

Fanelli will remain a part-time employee with Hill for three months to assist with the transition.


Generally speaking, when a top manager announces to step down with no permanent successor in place, it is a sign that the change was unexpected and too early.

Generally speaking, potential causes for an unexpected management change can be, among others, health reasons, family reasons and surprising new career opportunities.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered John Fanelli’s sudden 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 47.2017 ($).