Think back to the early days of your career and what drove you to want the top finance job. Was it greater responsibility? A seat at the boardroom table? More pay? Maybe it was a combination of these and other factors. What you probably didn’t count on was having your turnaround management mettle tested. But as the downturn takes its toll on companies, many CFOs will unexpectedly find that their jobs now also include becoming the chief restructuring officer, fighting fires on all fronts.

A select few finance executives, however, have made a career out of willingly joining troubled companies, reports “Your Turn.” As serial turnaround experts, they bring a new definition to what working under pressure means. Time is invariably never on their side, and they work with the acute awareness that one bad decision can lead to the end of a company. It’s stressful the first time, acknowledges one turnaround CFO, but it does get easier.

What is never easy for a CFO is determining when it’s time to shut up shop and call in the liquidators. “World Turned Upside Down,” prepares CFOs for what to expect if their companies enter the “zone of insolvency,” including dealing delicately with creditors, who will peer over their shoulders to ensure that everything is being done to preserve their capital.

Given such trials and tribulations, it’s easy to see why some CFOs, having reached the top, decide they’ve had enough. But this needn’t mean fading into the sunset. “Free at Last” profiles CFOs who have gone solo, working freelance as independent consultants, contractors or entrepreneurs. As these and other finance executives profiled this month show, the CFO job wasn’t always what they expected, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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