Well, the rumors are true. Oregon Insurer SAIF has made it official. They are looking for a new president & CEO. They posted the position almost a year from when the last one started the job. I hope they can have one hired by the anniversary of his departure. That is just three short months away.

Of course, most people will be aware of the termination of John Plotkin. The entire unfortunate scene of events unfolded on the public stage, and it was revealed that he had been terminated by SAIF using vaporware; without due process, and without a single complaint ever being lodged against him. This fact should weigh heavy on the minds of potential applicants for his former job.

Admittedly, things sound to be much better at SAIF these days. All of the major participants in “Plotkin-Gate”, those with significant authority either on Executive Council or the Board of Directors, are gone. Some retired early and some resigned; now presumably “pursuing other opportunities”. The new board seems active and engaged, and a new direction does seem to be taking shape there (although time will be the true test of that). Still, morale issues linger, and that seems to be acknowledged in the job posting itself (available here). One bullet point in the 4 page document reads:

  • In the wake of recent leadership changes, the new president and CEO will have an opportunity to address and strengthen the morale of some of SAIF's workforce

I love that line. After all, “fixing our colossal screw up” sounds like one heck of an opportunity.  Another point reads:

  • A large number of employees are expected to retire by the end of the decade. SAIF will have to reassess recruitment, retention, flexible work schedules, and retirement to address the effects of this workforce phenomena.

Probably should have mentioned a large number of employees have already retired.

I've spent a fair amount of time on this issue, and have learned a thing or two about the rank and file of that corporation. My respect for them is immense. I therefore, in an attempt to help facilitate this process and make sure the right person is chosen for the job, offer these useful interview tidbits to CEO candidates throwing their hat in the ring. These answers will be particularly helpful in “addressing and strengthening morale” of the employees:

  1. If asked what your favorite animal is, the best answer is “dogs”. Never say “monkeys”.
  2. Make sure your resume is 12pt Arial font, and is perfectly written. An extra space after a period will put you in the instant rejection bin.
  3. Wear a red tie. In fact, wear red everything.
  4. Don't mention exploding toilets.
  5. If you are offered the job, get a contract. And a lawyer. You will need both.

It is going to be challenging for anyone to take the helm of SAIF in the wake of Plotkin-Gate. John Plotkin brought a new face and set of ideas to an insular corporation, and left a massive footprint in his brief time there. Employees have had a taste of change, and are going to be looking for an innovative, open professional who understands the industry as well as the changes and challenges before it. Attracting the right person will be a difficult task. Hiring that person in the environment of government oversight will be even more so.

The choice will be telling. SAIF may get a dynamic new CEO. It is just as likely, in fact far more so, that they will get a retread attorney from another government agency. When it comes to that organization making bold and innovative leadership choices, history is not on their side.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *