In a surprising management about-face, Maureen Hesney, a TowerGroup senior executive vice president hired in February to run the firm's research and consulting practice, has left the firm after only three months in the job. Hesney, a former senior vice president of Gartner -- whom TowerGroup credited with building Gartner's consulting business -- was charged with growing TowerGroup's research and consulting business in a highly competitive market. Hesney left within the last two weeks, according to industry sources.
TowerGroup President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Sievewright says, "The job I gave her in managing our research and consulting operations was a very big job and the fit wasn't there. There wasn't a good fit for Maureen's skill sets for doing a job that was as broad as that," he adds.
But the move is surprising because Sievewright knew Hesney for 12 months prior to hiring her. She was a senior consultant "working for us on an independent basis on two large-scale consulting projects for 12 months before she was recruited," he says. However, he points out that when Hesney was an independent consultant "she wasn't working on the research side which is our core business."
In her new senior role, Hesney was hired to manage the research and consulting sides of the business and in fact all of TowerGroup's research practice heads reported to her.
Going forward, Sievewright says he's changed his mind about combining the research and consulting units and that he will not give that responsibility to a single person. "That is not the route I'm going to take," he says. "The leverage that we sought to get by combining organizationally our research and consulting teams is better served by a more informal way of communicating in the firm and bringing in resources in the consulting field when we need to. We will use the strong team we've got."
In addition to Hesney, two other executives are out: Bob Cole, manager of operations and Dale Lemke, director of marketing.
But Sievewright says the firms' headcount is higher than it was on Jan. 1. Instead, Sievewright says the firm "is taking general and administrative expenses and redirect(ing) that dollar investment into sales and marketing."
"I need more offense in the field," explains Sievewright who says he's adding sales and marketing muscle to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. "We want to grow this business 20 percent in this economy," the CEO says, adding, "That's an aggressive goal."
In line with that strategy, TowerGroup today announced four new hires in marketing and sales: Veronica Zanellato, director, corporate communications, joins from NerveWire, a management consulting and systems integration firm recently acquired by Wipro. On the sales side, Jack Murphy, a former stock broker with Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, will focus on the banking sectors; Joe Herbkersman, who hails from Southern Farm Bureau and Aetna Life and Casualty, will focus on the insurance industry, and Manny Barreto, who joins from Xerox and Gartner, will focus on sales into vendors and prospects.
Industry sources speculate that cost pressures from Reuters - TowerGroup's parent company - may have played a role in the management changes. Reuters itself has had layoffs in its media and information services group of which TowerGroup is a part of.Sievewright admits that he is paying attention to expenses.
"We're not going to just add expense to the company. We're not in a position where our stakeholders say, don't' worry about efficiency and don't worry about overhead. Those are tough decisions to make," he adds referring to the staff cuts. "We take great care of those people we had terrific separations," he adds. Hesney is the second senior manager to leave the firm this year. In May, Larry Tabb, formerly vice president of the securities and investment group, left and has since formed the Tabb Group, a financial technology-consulting firm.
This article originally appeared in Wall Street & Technology Online,a weekly e-mail newsletter. Visit: wallstreetandtech.com