By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch
His goodbye post started off like so many other trite corporate farewells. Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +4.16% Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette, after seven years spent deep in the Internet giant’s financial books, announced on Tuesday he’ll be retiring from the job “to spend more time with my family.”
Likely story, Patrick — What’s the truth: Sick? Pushed out? New gig?
But then it took a sincere turn seldom seen in the world of executive-departure spin. It appears he really is retiring to spend more time with his family.
Pichette, 52 years old, tells the story of hiking last fall on Mt. Kilimanjaro, where he took in the sunrise “on top of Africa.” His wife, Tamar, asked him a question that eventually led to this day.
“Hey, why don’t we just keep on going?” she said. Africa, India, the Himalayas, Everest, Bali, the Great Barrier Reef, all of it. “Antarctica, let’s go see Antarctica,” Tamar implored.
Pichette gave her the response you’d expect a big-time workaholic executive to give: “I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It’s not time yet,” he said. “There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us.”
Then came the haymaker: “So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time?” Most husbands have heard that kind of conversation starter before. It usually doesn’t end well.
Pichette went back to work but continued to stew on it. Kids are out of the house, he’s been working nearly nonstop for a quarter of a century, and while he didn’t mention this one directly, he’s obviously got enough money to explore the world how he sees fit. Google pays well.
“In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade-offs, especially between business/professional endeavors and family/community,” he said. “And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore.”
Of course, he’s going with “carpe diem” for the foreseeable future, but he left the door open for more opportunities “once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.”
Google co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, posted the letter on his Google+ page , calling it “a most unconventional leaving notice from a most unconventional CFO,” and saying it’s “well worth reading — it will warm your heart.”