Observers expecting a backlash against Abbott Laboratories' ($ABT) CEO Richard Gonzalez might want to rethink. Not only are analysts and investors pooh-poohing the trumped-up university degrees once listed on his resume, but the pharma industry has a history of forgiving resume lapses.
For Exhibit A., look no further than Heather Bresch, now CEO of generics maker Mylan ($MYL). Bresch had an executive MBA from West Virginia University on her vitae, but in 2008, an alternate reality surfaced; she hadn't completed all of the required coursework for the degree. She had asked that work experience compensate for missing EMBA credits, but WVU said no. (Bresch had worked at Mylan for 20 years before being named CEO.)
Then, Bresch's incomplete grades were changed from "I" to "A," as Working Mother recently noted. When the university investigated, WVU's president and provost both resigned.
Bresch, on the other hand, remains CEO at Mylan. Her company backed her up through the controversy. Abbott is doing the same for Gonzalez; spokeswoman Melissa Brotz, in fact, blamed the mistakes on Gonzalez's resume on the author of his bio, not on Gonzalez himself.
In fact, investors told the Chicago Tribune that Gonzalez's long record at Abbott outweighs any questions about his bio. "The fact that he has been as successful as he has, starting at the bottom and working his way up, he's obviously a very talented guy," Harry Kraemer, former Baxter ($BAX) chief and now private equity partner, told the Trib. "My sense is this will have no impact."
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