Yesterday morning employees of SAIF Corporation received an email from Interim CEO John Gilkey announcing that VP of Operations and Human Resources Ryan Fleming had resigned effective immediately. Fleming was indicated by company documents to be a central player in what is now being called Plotkin-Gate, where former CEO John Plotkin was terminated after just three months on the job. Fleming is the third member of the SAIF Corporation Executive Council to leave since this story broke. Additionally, two board members who were involved in the action and were already serving beyond their terms have since been replaced.
The email from Gilkey reads:
From: John Gilkey
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2014 9:52 AM
To: [ALL SAIF]
Subject: Executive Council Changes
I wanted to let you know that Ryan Fleming, vice president of operations and HR, has resigned from SAIF Corporation, effective December 1. For the time being, Ryan's divisions will report to current EC members. Shannon Rickard will assume responsibility for Human Resources, and Bruce Hoffman will oversee the Administrative Services Division. I'll keep you updated as we determine long-term solutions for leadership in these divisions.
As you know, SAIF has had a number of leadership transitions in recent months. I want to express my gratitude to the many employees who have taken on new roles and worked tirelessly to maintain our operations during these changes.
To say this announcement gained the full attention of the employees would be an understatement. The email appears to have gone out to employees at 9:52AM Pacific time. I learned about it at 9:53AM Pacific time. Comments on Facebook and via email were very positive to the development. A commenter on my blog posted last night that “When the news of Fleming’s departure arrived at our desks, some areas exploded with cheers and clapping. Some areas had employees literally dancing to the good news.”
An unconfirmed source tells me Fleming was still in the building when the announcement went out. I don’t know if that is true, but if so, it could have been a very uncomfortable final walk out of Munchkinland for someone. (Article Update: We have since confirmed, as comments below indicate, that Fleming was not in the office that day)
While this latest development was unexpected at this time, it is not surprising given the trajectory of this saga. Fleming and his department lead what many believe to be a secretive and largely inaccurate investigation of John Plotkin, ultimately throwing the entire company into legal and employment turmoil over the way Plotkin was treated. Fleming, through the release of company documents, was shown to be intimately involved in the process, and had become a focal point of employee's ire over the matter.
While the final determinations of wrongdoing and liability will be up to the courts to decide, in the court of popular opinion Fleming had become an obstacle to the eventual healing needed in that company. What transpired to bring about this sudden resignation is left completely to conjecture at this point.
I find the appointment of the two particular EC members, Rickard and Hoffman, in overseeing the two areas of Fleming's prior responsibility encouraging. Hoffman, by all accounts, was not involved in Plotkin-Gate, and has largely avoided the focus of the controversy. Rickard, VP of Legal Services, probably (in my humble opinion) should have been the first person notified when an investigation of her CEO was started. She wasn't, and I am told was “livid” when she discovered what had been going on regarding John Plotkin (she purportedly found out when contacted by an associate at the Oregon Department of Justice, the agency tasked with defending SAIF in the matter). Furthermore, documents show her as one of the few voices urging proper procedure and investigations into what occurred. Her appointment to oversee, even temporarily, a largely mistrusted department within SAIF is a solid choice and a good development for employees there.
More hearings and depositions are slated to begin in the New Year, so there will be plenty of material to keep this soap opera churning. Unless, of course, the new board decides it is in the best interest of all to just make it go away. With the recent departure of Fleming, we might be able to speculate that this is the direction the company is headed.
For a list of Bob’s other SAIF/Plotkin articles (as well as a couple old AASCIF articles that get picked up in the search), Click here.