Scott Thompson, ShopRunner CEO

People make mistakes, whether circumstantial or intentional; however, there is what you call a venial sin and a mortal sin. In religion, this could result to penitence and some prayers to excommunication. And in business, you could even get expelled with many perks thrown out… but then, with good breaks, you’d find light at the end of the tunnel.

This is what happened to former Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson – after being hired last January, he stepped down four months later when his enriched résumé was exposed by Dan Loeb, CEO of Third Point. Nonetheless, last July, Thompson got back to the mainstream as ShopRunner’s CEO.

Wait a minute. If one company pressured him to quit, how come another company opened its doors to him?

Simple. He only got caught in Yahoo’s politics as everything thrown to him by Loeb only points to Loeb’s desire to be one of Yahoo’s Board of Directors – when actually, Thompson is really capable.

This only means, the “double degree” which came to focus on Thompson’s résumé really has little to do with one’s real abilities but is more of an adornment; as the addition of the computer science degree only served to enhance, in this case, Thompson’s technical skills.

Let’s dig more and be objective.

Leadership is basically divided into two aspects – people management and technical skills. However, the higher you climb the corporate ladder, the less exigent technical skills become.

In Thompson’s case, he’s CEO, so does it matter whether he knows computer programming or not? What’s the job of a CEO anyway, do programming? Doesn’t that job responsibility describe engineers and alike rather than CEOs? So, what’s the fuss then? He’s CEO. His main job is to steer the company to profitability, to its destination, to the next level. Hence, he analyzes, he plans, he strategizes, he delegates, utilizes resources, he monitors, leads, he gets into deals. What comes to fore then are actually people skills, timing, and IQ.

Now, if you really think about it, the real problem of recruitment is structure. See, stereotyping is so high that any candidate, even capable, would have thoughts of padding his résumé just to get that job.

Did it ever cross your mind that not everybody in jail is bad, and not everybody free is good-natured? Same goes with recruitment. Not because a candidate did not attend Harvard, he is of a lesser mortal. Circumstances may have gotten in his way, that’s why. Not because one has a different experience, he’s less capable or suited for the job. Education and experience can be offset by good training if not a detailed overview if he’s learning ability is high, and in any case, having the right attitude as well. Employers simply has to realize first what they really need; then give the ”confident” that opportunity.

For ShopRunner president Michael Golden, Kabbage Chairman and co-founder Bryan Stolle, and a few other real forward-thinkers, it’s just all about learning to look beyond the surface.

What’s your take?

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2 thoughts on “Scott Thompson, ShopRunner CEO

  1. Very well written article and touches on a point that I’ve always thought….leadership is learned by great performance, hard to teach leadership in school/college. It’s a trait of a human, some have and some don’t. Also, the point where you mention about Mr Thompson’s technical skills and why they aren’t really needed when a person becomes C-Level. How many corporate execs can handle a printer issue or forget their password? They have other things to worry about — the business.

  2. That’s the point. Recruit according to what the company “really” needs not according to what’s “presumed” nice on paper. Schools train and one learns from experience, but one’s learning speed and creativity are the “real” keys, and it really depends on the person. An opportunity to perform confirms ability. Good to hear from you Tim, thanks.

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