Leanna Orr, Institutional Investor, April 23, 2018


Firing the chief investment officer was the final order of business at the Hawaii pension board’s regular meeting on February 12. CIO Vijoy Chattergy was blindsided, insiders say. After seven years with the organization, Chattergy was told by his bosses that Monday that he was done, effective immediately.

When the news broke, people were just asking, ‘What happened? What did he do?'” By the time Chattergy’s ouster was hot industry gossip coast to coast — that is, within days — it was no longer a mystery. The narrative took hold that Chattergy had blown up Hawaii’s pension fund with a risky bet turned bad, then lost his job over it.

ERS executive director Thomas Williams initially refused to discuss the situation, though ultimately he notified the staff by email. Williams said what an organization’s leader should after executive upheaval, according to crisis PR consultant Davia Temin. He just did it a month too late.

“People are let go all the time,” says Temin, who reviewed the timeline and the documents associated with Chattergy’s ouster. “Whether the reasons are pretty benign or more egregious, the best practice is to act with the most elegance possible. And that means you allow someone their dignity as they leave,” she notes. “You don’t malign them or allow them to be maligned by doing and saying nothing, by keeping it a mystery. People will fill in that huge void with something far worse than reality — it’s human nature.” […read more]