Abbott CEO Says Gonzalez Resume Was Mistake

Abbott CEO Says Gonzalez Resume Was Mistake

October 2nd, 2012 // 2:09 pm @

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In an effort to set the record straight, Abbott Laboratories ceo Miles White yesterday attempted to clarify countless reports and Internet discussions about the flap over the degrees that were listed in the bio for Richard Gonzalez, who is about to head the AbbVie spin off in January (pictured to the left). In a memo to employees, White reiterates the explanation given by an Abbott spokeswoman last week: “There was an error made when Rick’s company biography was written many years ago.”

At issue is this: for several years, Abbott somehow misstated that Gonzalez held a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Miami in government filings, on its web site and elsewhere. Specifically, the inaccurate information was misstated in at least nine regulatory filings between 2002 and 2007, during which he was chief operating officer, among other things (back story).

An Abbott spokeswoman explained this was an administrative error. But the explanation raised questions about when the error became known, when it was fixed and why Gonzalez, who joined Abbott in 1977 and retired in 2009 to battle throat cancer, failed to notice the mistakes. In his memo, White writes that “Rick brought this error to the company’s attention after his retirement and prior to returning to the company in 2009.”

“We conducted an internal and external investigation of the matter and his biography was subsequently corrected. We also discussed the matter with the board of directors prior to his selection to lead the new company. After full discussion, the board of directors concluded he is the right person to lead AbbVie,” which will be the research-based pharma operation to be spun off.

“I have worked with and known Rick for 30 years. He is one of the finest leaders, businessmen and individuals I have known. He has managed and led our business with integrity and commitment to our patients, our employees and our shareholders. The board and I are fully confident in him and his ability to lead AbbVie,” White concludes.

The memo, of course, is designed to end speculation that, perhaps, Gonzalez was not forthcoming about his background, although there has been no evidence to suggest that he falsified his credentials to attempted to mislead the drug and device maker. Nonetheless, the memo fails to address one question that has been debated – how was it possible that Gonzalez did not notice the error until after he retired in 2009 when the information was incorrectly listed for so many years? So far, White and the Abbott board have not offered that piece to the puzzle.


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