MELA CFO Resigns in Midst of Corporate Realignment

MELA Sciences has announced the resignation of its Chief Financial Officer, Richard Steinhart, effective December 31 2013. The medical diagnostics development company did not disclose the details of the resignation, which comes as the company seeks to realign its board in support of a new go-to-market strategy. As the company begins the search for a new CFO, current CEO Rose Crane will be handling the CFO duties with the help of the company controller.MELA Sciences has recently gained FDA approval for an optical diagnostic device developed for dermatologists to better diagnose melanoma in patients, and is in the midst of reorganizing the company to align better with a go-to-market strategy to promote the sales and support of the device. Three of the company’s nine board members have already resigned as the company streamlines and downsizes to hone its focus: one has been replaced by a venture capitalist and health care executive, Jeffrey O’Donnell, putting the new board at seven members.

The company has not commented publicly on the resignation of Steinhart, who had served since April 2006 and was named Senior Vice President of Finance in 2012. Steinhart’s background in venture capital and health care may have been at odds with the company’s new alignment as a go-to-market retailer.

Rebranding and realignment are difficult periods of transition, and many companies experience turmoil as a result. It seems that MELA’s transition is going well thus far, due to their adherence to principles of good streamlining, such as:

  • Diplomacy. The hard facts of realignment will involve personnel changes, and it’s important to make those changes as painless as possible. Streamlining, as in MELA’s case, involves ensuring personnel do not leave angry and resentful, which can cause industry friction at a time when the company seeks to improve its position in the industry.
  • Focus. Maintaining focus during periods of transition can be difficult, as personnel face unsure futures and doubt about how the company will come out of the transition.
  • Strong Leadership. During periods of transition, a company needs strong leadership more than ever. Weak leadership results in aimlessness and loss of focus, which poisons a company seeking a new direction.

Has your company faced realignment? How has management dealt with realignment?