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Monday, April 16, 2012

CEO Kenneth Melani and his Fellow Executive Bad Boys

     Married Highmark CEO Kenneth Melani recently lost his job after punching out his mistress' husband in a Pittsburgh suburb. The 58-year-old executive's squeeze, 28-year-old Melissa Myler, worked at the heath insurance corporation as a $40,000 a year sports marketing manager. Dr. Melani had hired her in October 2011. The affair, punch-out, Melani's arrest, and the CEO's prompt dismissal from the company, created a major scandal in western Pennsylvania. Dr. Melani was a bad boy.

     In the past, were business leaders and captains of industry bad boys who just didn't get caught? Were they nerds and geeks who couldn't get chicks until they became rich and powerful? Is this why these guys claw their way to the top? Is it to get women who otherwise wouldn't give them the time of day? Is this what it's all about? (Not long ago I read an article about some guy who thinks it would be a good idea for companies to provide their male employees with in-house prostitutes. According to this expert, it would boost morale, eliminate sexual harassment suits, and pump up production.)

     Are there women CEO who are bad girls? Martha Stewart was a bad girl CEO, but all she did was lie to federal officials about stocks she had sold. Big deal.

     Lately, besides Kenneth Melani, several bad boy CEOs have gotten into trouble over women. These stories are much more interesting than stock fraud, and other corporate white collar crimes. A few examples:

Mark Hurd

     In August 2010, Mark Hurd, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, resigned a few weeks before an internal corporate investigation into expenses he had incurred for meals and travel with a marketing contractor named Jodie Fisher. (No relation.) Fisher later quit, and hired the TV friendly, male unfriendly, Gloria Allred who filed a sexual harassment case against Mr. Hurd and the company. (The name Gloria Allred must strike fear in executive suites across the nation.) After resigning from Hewlett-Packard, the former CEO settled with Fisher for an undisclosed sum. But don't feel sorry for Mr. Hurd. His golden parachute departure from Hewlett-Packard cost the company $30 million.

Randy Michaels

     On October 6, 2010, The New York Times published an unflattering portrait of The Tribune Company's (Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times) CEO Randy Michaels and his management style. The article, by David Carr, portrayed the CEO as the ringleader of the type of bawdy, profane, sexual behavior one might find in an unruly college fraternity house. In January 2008, the former radio executive and disc jockey, while accompanied by several of his top executives, offered the waitress at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Chicago $100 to show her breasts. According to reporter David Carr, "Mr. Michaels and his executives' use of sexual innuendo, poisonous workplace banter and profane invective shocked and offended people throughout the company." A woman who held a senior position at the Tribune Company told the journalist that Michaels and one of his top executives held a loud conversation on an open balcony above a work area about the sexual suitability of various employees.

     During a top-level Tribune Company management meeting, a bad girl executive offered to bring in her assistant to perform a sexual act on one of the executives who seemed to be in a bad mood. In December 2008, the board of directors received an anonymous letter detailing a hostile work environment and a pattern of hiring based on personal relationships.
Two months after The New York Times article, Randy Michaels resigned as CEO. Asserting that he had been forced to quit, Michaels demanded an exit payment of $900,000. (In the CEO world, you get bonuses for quitting under pressure or being fired.) The company agreed to pay Michaels $750,000. Compared to Hewlett-Packard, they got off cheap.

Brian Dunn

     Brian Dunn, the married 51-year-old CEO of Best Buy, the electronics retailer, had been with the company 28 years. Described as a "tech gadget junkie," Dunn became CEO in 2009. Recently, the CEO was accused of misusing company assets to finance a relationship he was having with a female subordinate who worked at the firm's headquarters in Richfield, Minnesota. On April 2, 2012, a week after the company began its probe of the allegations, Dunn resigned. The unnamed employee is still working for Best Buy at its leadership training institute located in Richfield. 

1 comment:

  1. How about Secret Service Agents and prostitutes?
    I am sure this(Bad Boys) has been going on since the dawn of time, but now with 24 hour news and The Internet nothing is safe. I wonder how log would JFK/RFK trysts would stay secret in today's media?

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