Assessing former CFO Rudy Howard’s departure: Is SciQuest’s Wiehe looking for true leaders or puppets? by Jon Hansen

Posted on August 3, 2015

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The following is a Skype discussion I had with a reader, who’s original comment I had followed up on with a question of my own.

Here is the subsequent exchange:

JWH: Here is a question . . . Why does someone go from being a VP Finance to CFO, back to VP Finance and then back to a CFO all within the same company?

Reader: isn’t it the same role? VP of finance and CFO are fairly interchangeable

Reader: Or maybe they are not the same role… http://avc.com/2011/10/vp-finance-vs-cfo/

JWH: Not if you look at Kaelin and current VP Finance Lisa Baker . . . who besides finance was most recently an executive life coach?

JWH: . . . and then compare it to departed CFO Rudy Howard . . . see my upcoming Tweet . . . the guy is an M&A warrior, SEC practice specialist and a strong investment banking background . . .

JWH: In short, why get rid of a guy of that caliber to bring in a former CFO and longstanding “loyal” SciQuest employee, and an executive coach with a finance background . . . puppet positions?

Reader: yeah, on the face of it… I think Rudy recommended selling, and Stephen was sick of the noise, so replaced Rudy with a “loyal” as you put it – seems petty, and you would never be able to find out the truth, but it kinda makes sense.

JWH: Remember . . . people for the most part are willing to talk – in fact some are probably eager to vent . . . that is how the truth will likely come out – especially when they think that the jig is up.

Reader: An investment adviser asked about Rudy during the Qtr 2 conference call, and Stephen seemed a little thrown. Sounds like Rudy has nothing to do with SciQuest anymore, so you might be able to get some info out of Rudy if you can track him down.

SciQuest Kaelin

If you look at Kaelin’s profile above, the first thing that comes to mind . . . at least my mind, is a loyal employee that I can count on to tow the line in terms of following my direction.

The fact that Kaelin has cashed out some shares recently might be a way to reward said loyalty.

In the meantime, check out Kaelin’s replacement at VP, Finance Lisa Baker, below.

SciQuest Baker

No disrespect to Ms. Baker – or for that matter Ms. Kaelin, but the two of them together do not match the experience and expertise of departed CFO Rudy Howard. Especially given Howard’s extensive background in the critical areas of Mergers and Acquisitions, SEC Practice, Investor Relations, Investment Banking and Private Equity.

The fact that Howard, who after leaving a partnership position with Price Waterhouse Coopers in 1995, has been a CFO exclusively for his entire career, speaks volumes.

However it is beyond the resume that you will discover his true value. I am talking about a 2012 interview, in which you get an opportunity to understand the values that define both the man and his work history. Here is the link to that “10 Question” PC World interview.

Even executive coach Baker will have to admit that Howard was a top level executive with an incredible depth of both experience and personal character.

More than anything that has happened to this point in time, today’s post regarding Howard’s departure is perhaps the most troubling. His inability or unwillingness to retain an executive of Howard’s caliber reflects poorly on Wiehe, particularly given the recent Q2 results.

Based on what I have found so far, as well as what I am beginning to uncover, it is becoming increasingly clear that discord within the investment community regarding Wiehe’s leadership might be warranted.

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Posted in: Commentary