Copyright by Dan Erling

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The Awakening

A $150 million public company had just moved from the West Coast to Atlanta. Like many technology companies in 2001, their business situation had changed dramatically. In the heyday of the dot-com explosion, their stock traded at $125 per-share; now it was trading at $0.12. At least they weren't out of business. In fact, a nifty piece of technology gave them great hope.

Those who saw the potential in this company included the new chief financial officer (CFO)—a brilliant professional with lots of energy, street smarts, and an uncanny knack for helping those around him reach beyond their capabilities. In addition to being technically adept in all aspects of finance, the CFO had an uncommon combination of humor and humility, which helped him gain the trust and respect of his team. The chief executive officer (CEO) took notice, giving the CFO the responsibility of, first, keeping the financial ship from sinking, and second, getting the ship repaired and back on course.

The difficulties of the post-9/11 economy and the dot-com bust were further exacerbated by the move from the West Coast to Atlanta. Bad timing, indeed. A few key employees had relocated with the company, but the majority were new. Old and new alike were quickly becoming demoralized. An organization that was already spiraling downward was further damaged by a rushed and erratic hiring process.

The new CFO had a monumental task ahead of him as he took the reins. Last year, his company was the darling of the ...

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