Yahoo's Joanne Bradford: How Not to Leave Your Job

Last Updated Mar 18, 2010 11:39 AM EDT

Joanne Bradford, Yahoo or Demand MediaSome executives spend their entire career with one company. For others, it's more like deciding what to wear that day. Having had a relatively nomadic career myself, I can easily write a chapter on best practices for leaving your job. This latest move by Yahoo Sr. VP Joanne Bradford (pictured) would probably not be in that chapter.

Yesterday morning, Kara Swisher of All Things D broke the news that Bradford is planning to leave Yahoo to become Chief Revenue Officer at Internet media startup Demand Media. According to Swisher's sources, neither Bradford's boss, EVP Hilary Schneider, nor Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, were aware of her plans to leave.

And yet, guess what crossed the business wire that same afternoon?

Demand Media, a leading content and social media company, today announced that Joanne Bradford joined the company as its Chief Revenue Officer.
At about the same time, Bradford's mug-shot appeared on Demand Media's "Executive Leadership" web page with the following bio:
Joanne oversees the company's efforts to drive growth as brand advertisers participate on the company's top 20 owned and operated websites, and as business partners adopt the company's professional content and social media platform.

Most recently, Joanne served as Senior Vice President at Yahoo! where she was responsible for North American revenue generation activities --

Now, I'm no literary expert, but I certainly read all the verb tenses to mean that Bradford "currently" works at Demand Media and "formerly" worked at Yahoo. And all this before anyone at Yahoo even knew she was leaving. Make no mistake; Bradford approved the timing of the release and the bio.

Around the same time, Yahoo managed to release a terse statement, also from All Things D:

Joanne Bradford has decided to leave Yahoo! to pursue a new opportunity. Joanne will be working with the team over the coming weeks to enable a smooth transition.
You know, I'm pretty sure there's a law of quantum physics that, in the macroscopic world you and I inhabit, translates to "no two objects can occupy the same place at the same time." Bradford may be good, but I don't think she's found a way to circumvent the laws of physics. More likely, she's found a really ugly and unprofessional way to jump ship.

In fact, Bradford previously jumped from Microsoft MSN to Spot Runner two years ago and then on to Yahoo just six months later. Now this. Okay, I get that she's is in demand these days, but that's neither here nor there. It only takes a little empathy and compassion to orchestrate a professional transition. It certainly isn't difficult. But it certainly says a lot about an executive's character.

Image courtesy Demand Media