CEO Iannuzzis 1-Year Review

By Ed Frauenheim

Jun. 18, 2008

Sal Iannuzzi’s first year as CEO of Monster has been quite a ride.

    Not long before Iannuzzi took over the Internet recruiting company in April 2007, the U.S. economy was expected to grow at a decent 3 percent for the year. Instead, it expanded by just 2.2 percent and the pace slowed even further this year, taking a toll on hiring and job ads. A scandal over stock option backdating at Monster repeatedly made headlines of the kind that drags down employee morale. And the company decided to ax 700 employees as part of its restructuring.

    But Monster’s financial results for the first quarter of this year beat Wall Street expectations, on the strength of fast international growth. The company says it is getting quicker at turning out new products. And Monster’s alarmingly high employee turnover—upwards of 35 percent a year ago—has fallen to about 25 percent.

    Iannuzzi, a financial services veteran with just a few years in the technology industry, says he can sense improved morale in his workforce of 5,200. At a recent company meeting with some 500 people in the room, it was obvious, he says.

    “You can see when people are turned on and when they aren’t,” Iannuzzi says. “There were a lot of lights on this morning.”

    Here are Iannuzzi’s worst and best days since he became Monster’s main man:

    Worst: “Probably the toughest day was making the decision to let go of 700 people. When we made that decision, you look at it on paper and you look at the numbers, and you know it is the right thing to do for the health of the organization. But when you stop with the numbers and you bring it to people, and you see the faces of some of the people that are involved and the impact you’re going to have on them, that’s a pretty horrible feeling—particularly when you’re the person that’s driving it.”

    Best: “Historically only about 16, 17 percent of the people in the company received equity. And even those who did receive it, except for maybe the top 10 people, let’s just say they didn’t receive much. This year, everyone was eligible for a bonus, and almost 40 percent of the people in the company received equity—and meaningful pieces of equity, where it would really make a difference in their creation of wealth. Probably the highlight of it all was one evening Lise [Poulos, Monster’s chief administrative officer,] and I were walking out of the building. This was back in February, and it was kind of late and three relatively young people were leaving and came up to me. They had just gotten their bonuses. First time they got one. They high-fived and said, ‘Thanks a lot, Mr. I.’ That’s a good feeling.”

Ed Frauenheim is a former Associate Editorial Director at Human Capital Media and currently works as Senior Director of Content at Great Place to Work. He is a co-author of A Great Place to Work For All.

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