LAS VEGAS—Ken Cron may have the qualifier “interim” before his title of CEO at Computer Associates International Inc., but he is not simply sitting on his hands while the board of directors searches for a permanent head for the company.
Instead, he is spending much of his time working closely with CAs top executives to ensure that the changes the company has made in the past few years are not undone by the fallout from the accounting investigations and resignation of former CEO Sanjay Kumar.
In a roundtable discussion with reporters Sunday at the companys CAWorld customer event here, Cron spoke at length about the need for CA to continue down the path of change that has helped improve the companys once-rocky relationship with its customers and refocus the organizations internal efforts on extending its management strategy across its product lines.
“The product and technology vision is good, and were making good changes,” Cron said. He added that the feedback he has gotten from customers during his three weeks at the helm has been generally positive, and that many customers said they are hopeful that Kumars resignation and the end of CAs internal review of its accounting practices will allow the company to get back to its normal operations.
But Cron acknowledged that with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission probes still ongoing, an air of uncertainty remains in the companys Islandia, N.Y., headquarters.
Kumar, now the companys chief software architect, joined Cron for part of the discussion, as did Yogesh Gupta, chief technology officer; and Lewis Ranieri, the chairman of CAs board of directors. Kumar seemed at ease in his new role and emphasized that Cron, not he, is running the show at CA.
“Im not the CEO if the company. Unless you understand how deeply I care about this place, you cant understand how I can make this change,” Kumar said. “I think the best thing that could happen to CA is happening with Lou running the board and Ken doing his job.”
Kumar is spending most of his time visiting and speaking with customers to get a handle on what their needs and concerns are, but he is also involved in helping Gupta map CAs technology direction. Cron described the current atmosphere in the executive suite as one of cooperation and common purpose.
“What I wanted to do was take Yogesh, Mark and Russ and have them really involved in the vision, strategy and implementation of our products, technology and plans across the company,” Cron said. “Theres this triumvirate. Weve added to the team with Sanjay, and the team is stronger now.”
Ranieri, a veteran Wall Street operator, is now heading CAs discussions with the government concerning the accounting investigations and said that he believes the DOJ and SEC have been fair to the company.
“I dont think weve been treated unfairly by the DOJ or the SEC. Their intention is justice, not retribution,” Ranieri said. “Theyve said many times, and I believe them, that they do not want to irreparably harm the company. I believe that.”
Ranieri added that the current government actions surrounding corporate governance and business ethics brought on by accounting scandals at companies such as Enron Inc. and others are necessary steps.
“This is not the first of these cycles. When youre in the middle of it, its not much fun. But sometimes a meat cleaver is a handy tool,” Ranieri said. “I would never, ever, ever have believed that these problems existed in the system, including here. It had to get fixed. The problem was real, and it had to get fixed.”