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Outrage over AIG bonuses?

Better to ask why bad business managers are still employed


Fixing America’s Goliath companies and boosting the stock market is easy, says global trends forecaster and big-business escapee Babs Ryan in the new biz book "America's Corporate Brain Drain.” Get rid of layers of top management who got us into this mess.

CHICAGO, IL  March 16, 2009 -- A Bain & Co. study of successfully transformed corporations had something in common-- most of the top management were fired, resulting in a rapid 250 percent per year average stock price increase.

Taxpayers should be asking why mountains of mis-managers continue to be rewarded with paychecks, let alone bonuses, when data indicates that execs employed during corporate calamities are unlikely to pilot turnarounds. Removing not just the CEO, but his or her supporters and influencers, is a proven remedy, offering quick stock price recovery.  Neglecting to replace lousy managers and apathetic bystanders who had contracts defining bonuses last year might have been big business’s latest bad decision.

In August 2008, former GE and Citibank senior manager Babs Ryan predicted the crumbling of big banks and big businesses in her business book America's Corporate Brain Drain (Sparks Worldwide, ISBN 9780981494708, hardcover, www.braindrain.BIZ).  Ryan, a global product developer and trends forecaster who has also been a consultant for Ford and GM, says, “corporate decay will continue until layers of incompetent managers, who caused the economic crisis, are sacked en masse minus golden parachutes."

Corporations have defended bonuses as necessary to prevent a “brain drain” of talent.

“Rubbish,” says Ryan. “Consumers are moving forward with Toyota and connecting with Nokia because, in the U.S., the brightest sparks have already left big corporations because of bonuses--to the wrong employees.  In one study, employees reported that not receiving recognition or rewards had far less negative impact than watching the idea-blockers or boss’s buddies receive unsubstantiated or undeserved recognition or rewards. With businesses deteriorating and unemployment soaring above 8 percent, some companies are still eliminating those who aren’t considered to be team players, because they didn’t support the team making the disastrous decisions.”

Harvard Business Review stated that “company culture” and “caliber of employees” topped salary as reasons why good employees have left companies. found that 66 percent of women said their colleagues were responsible for unhappiness at work. In a study by Leadership IQ, 87 percent said “working with a low performer has made them want to change jobs.  And 35 percent of workers at large companies admitted to being bullied at work while only 1 percent of bullies are fired.

“Top talent bailed years ago, because they could. Those who can run a company and fuel innovation have been nurturing small businesses and starting new companies. Big business has lost their minds, and now it’s time to bring them back to replace those who made poor business decisions, so that America leads innovation and is competitive again” says Ryan, who has traveled in 78 countries and worked abroad for 11 years.

The solution to teetering companies and a roller coaster stock market is clear, according to Ryan. It’s not whom you hire; it’s whom you fire.


About the Book

“Press ‘1’ to listen to five more phone menus. If this is an emergency, please hold forever for the next available operator….”

If you hate phone menus, you’re not alone. When big companies saw data proving that up to 70 percent of callers press “0” to reach a live operator, they did exactly what you’d expect. Instead of getting live operators to answer the phones, they disabled the “zero out” function.

From gas-guzzling SUVs to free checking accounts that charge for checkbooks and offer pointless point programs (50 percent of points are never redeemed), big businesses in America are disconnected. The U.S. is runner up in innovation.

America’s Corporate Brain Drain forecast the crumbling of big banks and big businesses. It reveals that the swell of me-too products and lousy service is because the best people no longer work in Goliath companies. The 27 million small-business owners didn’t get the boot—89 percent of entrepreneurs quit their former positions. Boomers are negotiating for early retirement to start hobby jobs. Grads aren’t willing to climb towering corporate ladders. Of the employees still stuck in big companies, 70 percent are unhappy with their jobs.

In America’s Corporate Brain Drain, corporate deserters, employees, and consumers who are fed up with behemoth banks and big old phone companies will find the real reasons why big business stopped working. And they’ll discover how Americans, who are increasingly unwilling to put up with inferior products and the corporate culture that creates them, are regaining control.


About the Author

Big-business escapee Babs Ryan has successfully boomeranged from senior leadership roles in Fortune 100 companies (GE Capital division head of new product development, Citibank VP of business development), chief marketing officer at Kawasaki Motors UK, and top directorships in blue chip advertising agencies to small-business owner with clients in more than 200 countries. Babs has seven U.S. patent applications.

She has traveled in 78 countries including Pakistan (North West Frontier Province), Iran, Israel, Syria, Myanmar (Burma), Israel, Oman, and Zimbabwe, and worked abroad for 11 years. She is founder and president of Sparks Worldwide LLC, a Chicago-based enterprise helping multinational corporations bloom by forecasting global trends and translating them into new products for multinational companies.

Citibank transferred her to their UK mortgage division in 1991 to reverse the mortgage crisis (very similar to ours in the U.S.), where she developed strategies and programs for preventing/slowing foreclosures, minimizing bank write-offs, and creating new lending growth. One of her programs, offering free unemployment insurance with every mortgage, drove substantial new mortgage volume in a depressed market and created increased profitability for both Citibank and the insurance underwriters. Her appraisal read:  “Babs produced one of the very few success stories in a tough economic environment.”

She has worked with Ford Motor Co., General Motors, AT&T, Allergan (Botox), American Express, Corning, De Beers Diamond Mines, Eli Lilly, Fisher-Price, Hearst Publishing, Home Depot, J. Walter Thompson, IBM, MasterCard, Mont Blanc, Procter & Gamble, Sears, ShopRite, Walmart, and Western Union.

Her business book America’s Corporate Brain Drain (August 2008) forecast the crumbling of big banks and businesses.

Babs has a master’s degree in international business from Thunderbird. Her interests include Taekwondo (black belt), SCUBA, and alpine ski racing (1st place, A level).  She is founder and former president of the Chicago Motorcycle Meetup (180 members), is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and has been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.


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Additional information and photos at

Babs Ryan

author of

America’s Corporate Brain Drain

Why we leave, Where we go, How we can reverse the flow


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