Sorry for the delay in getting this shockingly bad EC news to you, but a case of Strangles in Southlands, the horse-dense area in Vancouver where I keep my horse, has absorbed much of my time over the past five days. Now that quarantine and bio-security are in place, the yelling at the individuals whose negligence has made the situation much worse than it needed to be has started to die down a little, and some tough lessons have (maybe) been learned, I can turn my attention at last to the latest departure from EC.
Last week, exactly two weeks after Amie O’Shaughnessy shocked us all by departing from her position as High Performance Director, EC’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Arbour, also exited stage left in a sudden resignation. Before posting a blog with this news, I thought it was important to get confirmation from the CEO. I have now received that from Eva Havaris directly.
Pulling back far enough from this to look at the objective facts, here is what is known: in the span of two weeks, EC has lost its two most senior management level employees, the CFO and the High Performance Director, effectively the CEO’s right and left hand – both of whom report directly to her alone. Neither of them was terminated. Both of them made the decision to leave. Both exits were shocking and sudden. Neither departure has been shared with the membership at large. Amie’s exit was disclosed to ‘stake holder groups’ by a letter from the CEO, but I am not aware of any communication regarding Mike, other than the letter sent by Eva to Jennifer Anstey (publisher of Horse Sport and this blog) and me, in response to my direct question.
If you think the headline of today’s post is a bit hyperbolic, let’s look at what Amie and Mike represented to the organization. Amie was with EC for 16 years, Mike 11. In addition to being the CFO, Mike was several times appointed interim CEO during the frequent CEO departures of the past few years. As someone wryly pointed out to me the other day, if you add up all the months that the long-suffering Mike was interim CEO after the previous three departures, he has been CEO at EC for longer than anyone. The loss of these two EC veterans is monumental in a negative way. Think mountain in reverse – a huge crater.
Amie and Mike were both highly respected and well liked in their jobs at EC. Their impressive tenure with the federation is all the proof anyone needs that neither of them is a quitter by anyone’s estimate. Both of them have endured through tumult and turnover in upper management that would have had most of us emptying our desks long ago. I do not know exactly what compelled these two individuals to leave – but anyone who thinks it was a happy departure to ‘pursue new opportunities’ (as the statement to stake holders claimed was Amie’s motivation) has his or her head deep in the sand.
Neither Mike nor Amie is the sort of person to leave an employer high and dry, with no transition or succession period with their replacements. I don’t need to hear it from Amie or Mike directly to know that they left under adversarial conditions. As of right now, EC has no CFO and no High Performance Director; whoever is persuaded to take up these positions will do so with absolutely no support from the people they are replacing. Just imagine taking over as CFO at an organization that had one person in the job for 11 years, who won’t be there to show you the ropes.
If either Mike or Amie is pursuing legal action along the lines of bad faith from the employer, it will cost EC dearly in legal fees and settlements. I cannot say without a doubt that this is going to happen because I have not spoken with either of them directly. But it would be reasonable to consider this a likely scenario.
I have more – so much more – to talk about regarding what is going on at EC at the moment, but I’ll leave you for today to digest what I’ve shared here. I think it’s plenty of bad news for one blog post.