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Yahoo CEO resume flap: IT pros react

IT pros react harshly to Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson's false claims of a computer science degree, adding fuel to investor Daniel Loeb's pressure for a Yahoo board CEO ouster.

As Yahoo investor Dan Loeb continues to urge Yahoo's YHOO board of directors to fire new CEO Scott Thompson - Loeb on Wednesday sent yet another letter to the press and the beleaguered company's board - IT pros we contacted reacted pretty vehemently to what has emerged as Thompson's falsified claims of holding a degree in computer science from Stonehill College in Easton, MA.

Yahoo execs called the computer science degree claim an "inadvertent error" in a San Jose Mercury News interview.

Loeb, according to records, runs a hedge fund that owns outright nearly 5.9 percent of Yahoo's stock. In his latest letter, Loeb wrote that "Thompson's fantasy degree was in no way an ‘inadvertent error.' The evidence shows us he had been using false credentials for years." Loeb and his fellows are demanding an immediate ouster.

IT pros I contacted reacted hotly on the issue.

John Livingston, an IT pro for the American Red Cross in Savannah, Georgia, wondered "if someone is willing to lie on (his) resume, what else would (he) be willing to lie about?"

Such prevarication "just makes it harder for people looking for IT jobs," Livingston added, saying that though anyone can easily lie about extra degrees and certifications.

Tech pro Paul Miller agreed that ethics is "the bigger issue here." Nonetheless, he said, "The irony of Silicon Valley (venture capitalists) and (hedge) fund managers asserting moral outrage is patently absurd. The "giant elephant" in the room is "that this was perpetuated for years and ... no one noticed until some guy with an agenda began to dig up dirt. The fact that someone can claim a degree (he or she) does not have - and that there is little way to tell them from the (rest) of herd who has ‘earned' a degree, without researching an educational background, tells how little these degrees mean."

Andrew Terry, an IT consultant in the London area, also sided with Thompson's detractors. He pointed out that "there's a big difference between what most of us think of as resume padding (versus) adding qualifications (one) doesn't have."

"If I found out someone lied on the resume about something as important as a degree, (the employee) would be fired. I personally worked my ass off for my computer science degree," said Peter Schmidt, a CTO at a Boston-based aviation firm. "Thompson's bald-faced lying angers me."

Other IT pros were a little easier on Thompson, though all 12 tech pros this reporter interviewed expressed distress at the prevarication.

Isn't a degree really just a glorified piece of paper? Yes and no, IT pros said. "I don't have a degree," said Dan Phillips, who is in tech support and network security in Ontario, Canada. "What I do have is nearly two decades of real world IT experience and that gets me in the door every time.

"Not to knock all computer science students, but I won't hire anyone straight out of school because they just won't have the knowledge that's needed for some high end IT jobs," Phillips said. "Certifications are nice but you tend to have to memorize the "book answer" and then quickly forget it because it does not apply in the field," he said.

How do you feel about the Scott Thompson situation at Yahoo? Let us know in the discussion below.

About

Gina Smith is a NYT best-selling author of iWOZ, the biography of Steve Wozniak. She is a vet tech journalist and chief of the geek tech site, aNewDomain.net.

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