17 Successful Executives Who Have Lied On Their Résumés

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By Hope Restle and Jacquelyn Smith

Your résumé is a place to highlight your biggest accomplishments and showcase your most valued skills. It's what hiring managers use to determine whether you'd be good at the job, and whether you're worth meeting in person.

So, it's no surprise that a majority of people lie on their résumés. A 2014 poll from CareerBuilder found that 58% of hiring managers caught applicants exaggerating or fudging details about previous roles, skills, or awards. And entry- or mid-level workers aren't the only ones guilty of fibbing. Top execs have done it, too.

Here are 17 successful executives who were caught or admitted to fudging, exaggerating, or straight up lying on their résumés.

Vivian Giang and Jhaneel Lockhart contributed to an earlier version of this article.
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17 Successful Executives Who Have Lied On Their Résumés

In September 2014, David Tovar, the vice president of corporate communications for Wal-Mart, resigned from the company after it was discovered that he had not, in fact, received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Delaware, like his résumé stated, according to Bloomberg.

The New York Times reported that he didn't remember what he had put on his résumé. He said, "I definitely didn't disclose that I didn't have a degree, and there were times where it was probably an error of omission." He said he was a few credits shy of his degree, and had even participated in the graduation ceremony.

In March 2002, Canadian businessman John Davy was appointed the CEO of the New Zealand television network, Maori Television Service.

He was fired less than seven weeks later when it was discovered that his résumé was almost entirely fabricated. For one, he claimed to hold an MBA from "Denver State University" — the New Zealand Herald investigated, only to find counterfeit credentials of the same university name and degree being sold online.

Secondly, he claimed to have worked with the British Columbia Securities Commission in 1986, who in turn found no records of him, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Two months after being sacked, Davy was sentence to be jailed for eight months, after pleading guilty to one charge of using a document — his CV — "to obtain a benefit or privilege 'namely a senior appointment with the Maori Television Service,'" the New Zealand Herald reported.

In late 2008, a board investigation revealed that James Peterson, CEO of Microsemi Corporation, had not received his bachelor's or master's degree from Brigham Young University, according to Bloomberg. 

Microsemi decided to keep him as CEO, saying he was a valuable asset to the corporation. 

He was asked to pay Microsemi $100,000 and forgo the year's bonus. 

Peterson is still CEO of Microsemi.

When Scott Thompson, the former president of PayPal, was named as Yahoo's CEO in January 2012, his résumé said he had degrees in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.

Daniel S. Loeb, the founder of hedge fund Third Point and a shareholder of Yahoo, decided to investigate Thompson's background and uncovered that the new chief executive only had a degree in accounting, not computer science. 

Loeb wrote:

"If Mr. Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo! at this critical juncture. Now more than ever Yahoo investors need a trustworthy CEO."

Thompson left Yahoo! in May 2012. 

In June 2007, Patrick Imbardelli, the head of Asia Pacific operations for Intercontinental Hotels Group, left with two months salary after an internal review of his educational background found he had embellished his résumé, according to Forbes.

On his CV, he claimed to have graduated from Victoria University in Australia with a bachelor of arts degree in business studies and hotel management, and a bachelor of science and MBA from Cornell University. Though he attended classes at both colleges, he never graduated, Forbes reported.

In October 1993, Bruno Sorrentino resigned as the head of IT and director of research for Telstra, a major Australian telecommunications and media company, CIO.com reported.

Though he said his resignation was for "personal reasons," it had just been discovered that he had not graduated from Imperial College with a PhD in physics like his résumé stated. Telstra had tried to look into his thesis, only to find it didn't exist since he had never attended the college.

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