Industry Switches Are Possible
Scott's move to the mortgage lending industry and his appointment to the COO post may seem unusual given that he's never previously been a COO nor does he have any financial services industry experience, but recruiters say it's not unprecedented.
Lewke notes that another GE alum, Greg Carmichael, made a similar industry switch in 2004. Carmichael joined Fifth Third Bancorp as its EVP of IT and operations after working for industrial manufacturer Emerson Electric as its CIO and for GE's engines and power systems businesses. He had no prior financial services industry experience. Carmichael was promoted to COO of Fifth Third in 2006.
Recruiters also note that the degree to which the mortgage industry relies on technology to approve and process loans made Scott and his technology expertise a good fit for Taylor, Bean & Whitaker.
"The efficiency and competitiveness of mortgage companies can be driven through the technology solutions they have," says Sam Gordon, director of Harvey Nash Executive Search's CIO practice. "In a mortgage company, especially one that's trying to step up its technology capabilities, then [industry experience is] less important."
Indeed, the press release Taylor, Bean & Whitaker issued stated that "Mr. Scott's vast technology experience with Microsoft Corporation and General Electric made him an obvious choice."
Scott's pedigree and track record aided in his speedy recovery, but not all CIOs who get fired are so fortunate.
"For every Stuart Scott there will be someone else who has a public dismissal that doesn't bounce back so quickly," says Gordon.
A Good Sign for Scott and for CIOs
Egon Zehnder's Lewke says Scott's move gives him the experience and flexibility to continue on the business operations trajectory, which may eventually lead to a CEO post, or to move back into a CIO role at a large company. If Scott decides to go back to the CIO role, Lewke says he'll have more credibility because he'll have been "on the other side."
Gordon says Taylor, Bean & Whitaker's appointment of a longtime technology executive into an operations position gives credibility to the CIO role. "That the firm has chosen somebody with such a strong technology background to be COO is a great thing for the CIO market in general," he says.
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