Saturday, June 23, 2012

Harker was on her way out from previous employer when she took Gannett CFO post -- without a raise

Victoria Harker was already set to leave as chief financial officer of electric utility AES Corp. nearly two months before Gannett announced she'd been hired as CFO -- and at a salary less than what she'd been earning, according to company statements and regulatory documents.

On April 30, AES announced that Harker -- who'd been CFO for six years -- planned to leave the company no later than Aug. 10. It offered no explanation for her exit. In a statement, CEO AndrĂ©s Gluski described Harker in glowing terms, indicating the parting was officially amicable.

Harker said: "I look forward to the new challenges ahead."

Her departure followed an AES management shake-up last fall. Gluski was promoted to CEO in October from chief operating officer. He immediately announced a management reorganization where Harker, 47, got the additional responsibilities of president of AES' Global Business Services unit.

It's not unusual for management shifts to continue once a new chief executive settles in, especially when it involves executives who were rivals for the CEO's post. I've read nothing to indicate this was the case in Harker's decision, however.

Indeed, her move to GCI may have been orchestrated in advance of predecessor Paul Saleh's exit last month for the CFO job at a larger company.

Whatever the circumstances, the GCI job worked perfectly for Harker and the company in at least one respect: She and her family already live in McLean, Va. -- Corporate's headquarters -- so there's no costly relocation required. She starts July 23, according to Corporate's Thursday announcement.

AES is much larger than Gannett in terms of revenue: It reported $17 billion last year vs. GCI's $5.2 billion. AES has 27,000 employees vs. 31,000 at GCI.

The utility's stock has been hammered over the past five years: AES closed yesterday at $12.08 a share, down more than 40% after adjusting for dividend payments. GCI, in a far more troubled industry, has fallen nearly 80% during the same period.

AES pay vs. GCI
At AES, Harker got paid $3.8 million last year -- a big increase from 2010, when she got $2.7 million, according to regulatory filings. That included a base salary of $632,220 $625,000 -- the same as -- more than the $625,000 GCI said yesterday she'll be paid.

But in both years, her pay included stock awards that required her to remain an employee until 2013. She presumably forfeited them by leaving too soon.

Using a different formula, GCI paid Saleh $2.2 million last year. That, too, included the value of stock awards he forfeited when he left last month. His base GCI salary was slightly lower than Harker's: $600,000.

Harker's AES compensation for the past three years:

  • Salary: $632,220 $625,000
  • Stock awards: $1.2 million
  • Stock options: $356,917
  • Incentive plan compensation: $1.5 million
  • Other: $96,450
  • TOTAL: $3.8 million
  • Salary: $615,000
  • Stock awards: $349,090
  • Options: $327,528
  • Incentive plan: $1.3 million
  • Other: $117,100
  • TOTAL: $2.7 million
  • Salary: $600,000
  • Stock awards: $373,127
  • Options: $508,307
  • Incentive plan: $1.2 million
  • Other: $103,800
  • TOTAL: $2.8 million


  1. Interesting career move.

  2. 9:47 As a famous organizational behavior expert I invented once said: shit happens. 

  3. Good info, thanks for digging it up, Jim. Are you suggesting that maybe Harker got the GCI job in advance of Saleh's leaving and so that's why her previous employer couldn't say why she was leaving the company? Or did she get pushed out and just happen to land at GCI at the right time?

  4. 11:22 Thank you; I had help from some of my readers.

    Your first scenario seems more likely. If that's the case, I wonder why Gannett didn't announce this a month ago? Seems to me it's a material event under U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations 

    And yet none of this would explain why this isn't a step down for her. 

  5. Glad we could provide employment for yet another unemployed manager.

  6. Any port in a storm. ;-)

  7. Unemployment lines for the over priced under qualified abundantly arrogant all lead to Gannett.

    Barker gets in line behind Banikarim, Micek, Murcko, Kramer, etc etc etc...

    Pin it on the purposeless wall.

  8. Winder if Robin Pence gets a finders fee?

  9. You would think Myron Maslowsky would have been promoted into the position. Curious why he was passed over.

  10. As I review the history here, it seems less likely that Harker already had the Gannett CFO job sewed up when AES announced on April 30 that she was leaving.

    Here's why.

    Corporate announced May 14 that Saleh was leaving. In that announcement, it said:

    "The search for a new chief financial officer for Gannett is currently underway. Effective immediately, Michael Hart, vice president and treasurer, will serve as interim principal financial officer until a permanent CFO is appointed."

    If Harker had, indeed, already gotten the GCI job, there would have been no need to make Hart the stand-in CFO; Corporate would have simply said that Harker was getting the job and would start soon.

    Perhaps, then, Harker just happened to be leaving AES as Saleh was also leaving GCI. Lucky timing on her part?

  11. Not necessarily. A decent interval to save face for Saleh, cover Martore's manuever.

  12. Rasputin Says6/24/2012 8:34 AM

    This hire on the week that the company issued week long furloughs to many of its employees is a slap in the face. The top heavy management team gets another "know nothing about the industry" washed-up, high dollar C-suite failure to be. The company is at deaths door and the best they can do is this? It is an astonishing shame that the core stable of valuable products that could be leveraged into a powerful media presence in the digital realm, is destined to speed headlong into the media ditch because of a complete lack of leadership and vision. if only there was someone with an ounce of vision at the helm the vertical properties and flagship publications could own the audience they command and sell them to media buyers that are hungry to sell them.

  13. Let's see...Whomelse was on "their way out" before Gannett hired them as executives with SEVEN FIGURE SALARIES...

    1. David Payne, CEO of SHORTTAIL MEDIA (Bankrupt)
    2. David Hunke, CEO Detroit Media Partnerships (transferred out)
    3. Larry Kramer, CBS MarketWatch (Unemployed)
    4. Maryam Bankamrim, SVP NBC Universal (fired)
    5. Paul , CFO, (fired from prior job)
    5. Victoria Hafker, CFO (fired from AES)

    Looks like Gannett does a good job picking up the left overs!!!

    After all, Gracia doesn't want anyone better than herself. And God forbid they actually hire and retain top talent!

  14. Who got furloughed this week?

  15. Martore knows nothing about quality content, or even maintaining half assed quality content. dickey is an ad guy. The CMO is a self promoting, publicity hound. With the exception of Kramer, all of Martore's appointments smack of lets promote sistahs to high ranking jobs, because she can.

    The mantra she provided analysts this week is more of the same crap she's been promoting for weeks: hometown advantage while the most experienced local journos are thrown out in the streets. Meanwhile, the flagship "iconic brand' continues to stumble, led by a coterie of bumblers and inexperienced wannabees throughout key departments, and especially, the digital operation.

    Hypocrites and liars ultimately get their due. It just takes longer at Gannett.

  16. What a crock. She was part of the ARS Board meeting the day before the announcement. Do your homework for heavens sake

  17. 12:54 A. Where is that board meeting publicly disclosed? B. What would her participation in a meeting before the announcement show?

  18. Myron didn't deserve the CFO post. He's an accountant, not a strategically focused finance person.

  19. Myron Maslowsky has been pushed off to the sidelines with no real job and no real responsibilities. Another SVP position that could easily be cut if Kramer would show up and take a look at the USAT fat.

  20. Heather Frank and her entire crew were out of work consultants.

    Lets not forget Tom Beusse, either.

  21. Lost in all this excitement was the fact that Jim got scooped again. So any idea who is a candidate for the USAT Editor job or the Horning job?

    1. Yes, Jim got scooped by the bean counter network.

      oh, snap!

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  26. Just think about all the jobs lost and lives destroyed to pay for this. This is nothing to be proud of.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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