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A Very Expensive Bad Executive Hire

Imagine making $700,000 in one day.

Just last month this is what Moderna’s new CFO, Jose Gomez, netted in severance pay (along with one year of COBRA coverage) after about one day on the job. Gomez was to be the successor to Moderna’s retiring CFO, David Meline, who then had to come out of his one-day retirement to again fill the seat.

Can you imagine how Moderna’s general workforce, many of whom will never see $700K in their lifetimes, might feel about this?

Gomez’s departure followed a disclosure by his previous employer of an ongoing investigation into their current and former executives’ participation in a financial fraud scheme to achieve executive compensation goals, specifically the company’s use of incentives to sell products to third-party distributors in the third and fourth quarters of 2021.

This was a matter that was brought up in Gomez’s previous company months before his hire at Moderna and is now being investigated by a forensic accounting firm.

All of this begs the questions: Who led Moderna’s recruiting process for the CFO succession candidate? Why was this not caught in the vetting process before they made the offer? Who was involved in constructing the compensation (and severance agreement) packages?

In the past, Standish has written extensively about the real cost of a bad hire, and the destruction it can cause in a business.

On a smaller scale, we have heard from many mid-sized businesses about their own leadership-hire horror stories.

Don’t let this happen to your business. When it comes to executive hires:

  • Avoid over-reliance on online recruiting tools

  • Avoid a DIY approach

  • Retain a trusted advisor who understands your business, and will find and fully vet the right candidate for your position and company

Trust us—the upfront investment in retaining a trusted advisor can save you a world of pain on the backend.


Greg Mickelson is a Principal of Standish Executive Search, a New England-based firm that advises business owners, executives and boards who are positioning their companies for accelerated growth, change or succession.

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