Microsoft fires CIO over company policy violation

Microsoft’s CIO, Stuart Scott, has been fired, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

Microsoft would not share details beyond saying that Scott was let go after an investigation for violation of company policies.

Scott was initially hired in a somewhat novel arrangement: He shared the role of CIO with Ron Markezich. However, Markezich has since dropped his CIO title and taken on the position of vice-president of managed solutions at Microsoft.

Kevin Turner, Microsoft’s chief operating officer, announced Scott’s termination in a memo sent to employees on Monday. Scott, who was unavailable for comment, was rumored to have been placed on administrative leave more than a month ago.

In response to an inquiry by Computerworld at that time, a spokeswoman from Microsoft’s public relations agency said that Scott appeared to be working in his office as normal. Asked again about the administrative-leave rumors today, another spokeswoman from the agency said, “We had no personal knowledge of that at that time.”

Microsoft declined to comment on when it expects to hire a permanent replacement for Scott. The company said that in the interim, his duties will be shared by two people: Shahla Aly, general manager of worldwide services, strategy and planning, and Alain Crozier, corporate vice-president and chief financial officer at Microsoft’s sales, marketing and services group.

Scott, who was a corporate vice-president at Microsoft, joined the company in late 2005 as co-CIO and was given full control of the IT department late last year. Before being hired by Microsoft, he spent 17 years at General Electric Co., where he most recently was CIO of the GE Industrial Systems division.

His unexplained firing recalls the similarly abrupt departure in June 2006 of Martin Taylor, a high-profile marketing executive who left without explanation after 13 years at Microsoft. Taylor is now a principal at Vista Equity Partners, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm.

In an interview with Scott that was conducted by Computerworld last summer and published in late September, he said that he viewed his role as being “a value-added partner” to Microsoft’s business unit. But Scott also acknowledged that his role at the company was more consolidated and powerful than past Microsoft CIOs enjoyed.

“Prior CIOs have always run the corporate systems and infrastructure for the employees,” Scott said. “What we’ve added is the direct line-of-business systems. It’s all part of Microsoft learning how to be a big company but still remain innovative and agile.”

The rumors that Scott had been placed on administrative leave surfaced soon after the interview appeared.

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