Lilly CFO resigns after ‘inappropriate personal relationship’ with employee

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Eli Lilly and Co. announced Tuesday morning its chief financial officer has resigned after company officials became aware of an “inappropriate personal relationship” with an employee.

Joshua Smiley, the Indianapolis-based drugmaker’s CFO and senior vice president since 2018, is no longer with the company, Lilly said.

Lilly said Smiley also engaged in inappropriate personal communications with other employees.

Smiley was named CFO in January 2018 to succeed Derica Rice, who had earlier announced he was leaving the company. Smiley had previously served as senior vice president, finance, and treasurer He was Lilly’s second-highest paid employee, receiving total compensation of $7.35 million in 2019.

Lilly has named Anat Ashkenazi, who most recently served as senior vice president, controller and CFO of Lilly Research Laboratories, to succeed Smiley.

Lilly said that after learning of allegations of Smiley’s behavior, it immediately hired external lawyers to conduct a thorough, independent investigation.

“That investigation revealed consensual though inappropriate personal communications between Mr. Smiley and certain Lilly employees and behavior that Lilly leadership concluded exhibited poor judgment by Mr. Smiley,” the company said in a statement. “Lilly holds all employees accountable to its core values and strongly believes its executive officers carry an even higher burden in ensuring those values are upheld. Mr. Smiley did not meet that standard.”

Smiley’s conduct was not related to financial controls, financial statements or any other business matters or judgments, the company said.

Smiley did not immediately return a phone call from IBJ to his cell phone on Tuesday morning to comment.

“Lilly’s core values are integrity, excellence and respect for people. We expect all employees to live these values, and we expect exemplary conduct from our executives at all times,” David Ricks, Lilly chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Smiley joined Lilly in 1995, and has held positions across finance, sales and marketing. Prior to joining Lilly, he worked in investment banking and consulting.

Ashkenazi has been with Lilly for nearly 20 years and has been senior vice president, controller and chief financial officer of Lilly Research Laboratories since 2016.  In that role, she oversaw the CFOs of the company’s commercial businesses, as well as those for research and development, manufacturing and quality, and G&A functions. She also led the corporate strategic planning team and business transformation office. Previously, she served as chief financial officer for several of the company’s global business areas.

“We are confident in Anat’s ability to serve as our next CFO given her impeccable track record of leadership and business success across nearly all major parts of the company, most recently as corporate controller and head of strategy,” Ricks said.

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17 thoughts on “Lilly CFO resigns after ‘inappropriate personal relationship’ with employee

  1. Too bad Smiley was COF for Lily and not the POTUS. If the latter, he could have got off scott free just like slick Willy did for engaging in an improper relationship with an employee.

    1. He was impeached and disbarred from practicing law, but the bigger question is do you really think we should apply the same standards from 23 years ago to today? You tried, girl, you failed. Glad this guy is gone from Lilly, but it sounds like he should have been removed earlier.

  2. This should be a big nothing burger. It was consensual so where’s the problem? Cancel culture once again. The executive compensation for all big public companies is wrong but that’s another subject.

    1. Something called “ethics,” Sam. And self-control. Because work culture should not involve physical and emotional relationships of this nature; because the employees around this jack___ and his lady(ies) should not have to deal with favoritism brought on by carnal knowledge of a fellow employee; because his wife and children shouldn’t have to deal with such heartache and public humiliation. But first and foremost: Ethics. And morals. Both are non-partisan and not reliant upon any faith background. They’re just the right thing to live by.

  3. I can think of a prominent law firm north of the Circle that should expect its partners and employees to adhere to similar ethical standards. But, they don’t.