Skip to main content

Callan Reflects On Firing

Having been successfully nursed back to health by new boss, Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan, Erin Callan is finally ready to talk about old wounds. She spoke with Fortune about her dismissal from Lehman Brothers, and even though she's yet to thank us for the flowers, we'll share it here. To the question, "Were you forced out as CFO," E to the C told reporter Katie Brenner:

No. It was clear in the 24 hours after we announced second-quarter earnings that the market reaction was just terrible, and there was a rising sense in the organization that a management change was needed. I went back to my office and decided I was willing to step down. I'd only been CFO for six months and hadn't brought us to that moment, but I was the public face of the firm, and we had to show the world that we were making changes. Joe Gregory [then Lehman's COO and president] was thinking about stepping down, but he was not known to the outside world. It would have mattered a lot internally, but I didn't think it would have a big impact on the market. So we decided to do it together - to do the right thing for the organization.
In retrospect I was lucky to get out, but I was so sad. It wasn't a relief at the time. I never thought I would leave that firm. It had such a strong culture. People really lived their lives there. I think Dick felt personally horrible about it because I was his protégée. During this difficult conversation with me, he cried.

In an unedited version of the interview, Callan went on:

"And I'm not just talking about a little salty discharge, I'm talking about gigantic tears, streaming down the man's face. Most people think of Fuld as this big tough guy- hence "The Gorilla" nickname- but in reality the man is a total puss. Him crying when he fired me was just one episode in a series of episodes since I started working at Lehman in which he would burst in to tears over the slightest little things. One time I walked into his office and I guess he'd accidentally gotten a button caught on a drawer and it snagged or something and I shit you not, he fell apart. Curled up in the fetal position, snot coming out of his nose distraught. At first I thought it was a joke but then I came to see it was no joke at all, the man is a gigantic flaming pussy. One time he cried at a board meeting over no one leaving him any cheese pizza, another when he thought David Einhorn was going to hurt him physically-- note that I said "thought," as in just the idea of it.
Which is not to say his crying when he fired me was simply par for the course because believe you me, he knew he was throwing me under a fucking bus and it ate him up inside, THE GUILT. And it continues to eat him up inside. You want to know why he hasn't shown his face at LEH? Cause he's been emotionally eating his way through the horror of what he's done to me and has blown up like freaking, what' the name of the guy DeNiro plays in Raging Bull? That guy. That's what his face looks like, at the end of the movie (a movie in which, and maybe I'm not getting this right, but I recall the protagonist DIES). Oh, and his wife also tells me that he's developed a case of erectile dysfunction, and on the rare nights he can get it up, often bursts into tears during climax and screams "I'M SORRY ERIN!!! I'M SORRY!!! She's thinking of leaving him."
I Was Lucky To Get Out [Fortune]


Erin Callan Is Perfectly Happy, Damnit

The former Lehman CFO is mystified that her recent New York Times column would make people think she was unhappy.