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by Derek Loosvelt | March 11, 2015


Welcome to The C-Suite Spot, a new try-weekly column—that is, I will try to post a column each week, but the frequency of posts could be more like every other week or once every three weeks. In any case, it will highlight notable moves and news in top management at top companies around the world.

American Apparel’s new boss is still selling sex, just not an obscene amount of sex.
American Apparel’s first female CEO, Paula Schneider, has a tough act to follow. Not tough as in she needs to significantly outperform her predecessor, Dov Charney, who allegedly kept one employee as a sex slave and sexually harassed several others. But rather, she needs to keep American Apparel in the minds and pockets of 18 to 33 year olds and keep the firm relevant. Even if Charney was a sexually deviant, shareholder’s nightmare, and best known for his near-pornographic ad campaigns, the company he founded was constantly in the news and widely known throughout the planet. That is, it had excellent brand awareness. As for Schneider’s strategy, she says she’s not going to shy away from AA’s sex appeal, but she is going to clean up the company’s act, which is basically an operational mess thanks to the previous administration. And judging by some of the new ads that AA has put out under Schneider—which are tasteful and intriguing with much less teen nudity—as well her interviews with the press (including the one linked to above with Marie Claire), I say she’s off to a good start.

Google CFO calls it quits to travel the world.
This past Tuesday, Patrick Pichette announced via Google+ that he’d be leaving his position as Google CFO once he’s found a suitable replacement. The reason the 52-year-old Pichette gave for his departure is this: wanderlust. That is, he said that, thanks to more than a little encouragement from his wife of almost 25 years, he was retiring now in order that he and the Mrs. could travel the world. In fact, the decision to step down has roots in a question his wife posed to him while they were atop Kilimanjaro last fall. It also had to do with the fact that their kids are now in college and Pichette is a little tired of the three decades of nonstop work. And so, if you think you have what it takes to oversee the finances of a company with a market capitalization of $381 billion and deal with all the questions from investors who want to know why your firm’s stock hasn’t budged in the past 12 months, you should get in touch with Pichette. It’s also important to note that one of the morals of this story is: never climb a mountain as high as Kilimanjaro with your spouse without first having banked more than $31 million in stock gains (that’s how much Pichette has made while with Google—and that doesn’t include the millions he’s made since 2008 in annual salary).

Freelancing is a woman’s game. Which could spell doom for more women in the C-suite.
A recent study shows that more women than men are freelancing. The study also tells us why: women don’t want to deal with office politics, women want more schedule flexibility, and women are more willing to freelance to make a little extra on the side since they’re paid less than men in their full-time jobs. With respect to the gender wage gap, the following is good news: women seem to be paid more than men when they freelance. “A recent study by the freelance placement service People Per Hour found female freelancers were securing the majority of the gigs on the platform (58%) while earning up to 22% more per hour than their male counterparts.” However, what all this data could mean is women are still being treated not as well as men in full-time roles—that is, they aren’t getting enough flexibility and compensation that would lead them to decide to stay or take full-time roles. Which, in turn, could lead to even fewer women in senior management positions.

And then there were two.
When Credit Suisse pushed out American Brady Dougan as CEO and named the Ivory Coast-born Tidjane Thiam to take his place, that left only two pre-financial crisis big banking CEOs standing: Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon. Dougan joins the list of ousted banking chiefs that includes BofA’s Ken Lewis, Morgan Stanley’s John Mack, and Citigroup’s Vikram Pandit. As for Thiam, he joins the struggling Swiss bank from Prudential plc, where he was the CEO of the insurance giant. The appointment of Thiam—an insurance and asset management man, not a banker—signaled to shareholders, industry observers, and to bank insiders that Credit Suisse was not going to focus its efforts on investment banking but on investment management. And specifically on investment management in Asia, where there are many new millionaires with millions to invest. Some fun facts about Thiam: he, like a few other current and former Wall Street chiefs, is a former McKinsey consultant; when it comes to football (of the European variety) he supports Arsenal; and his favorite book is Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (one of my favorites, too).

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