Written by Vera Struck
I took the prescription decreed by an established Boston career coach and went to work as an Interim CFO in a threatened industry. Frankly, no one else wanted the job because the company was in deep trouble. And who would? Certainly not fun, they couldn’t afford a top-notch change agent at $400 an hour, nor a reasonable turn-a-round consultant at $250 an hour, so they got me. I was over-qualified and hungry for work in a state where all my connections’ addresses seemed to be in cemeteries. Happy to keep my skills honed, I accepted. The position was a huge challenge. The strategy I proposed was an ultimatum; either all its partners accept a 3 month “deep dive” and reconstruction of their company, or just close their doors. My commitment was similar to that of an entrepreneur, I worked sixty hours a week. With an engaged group of owners, senior managers and employees; we not only kept the creditors and banks at bay, but turned the company around. In the end, we saved 110 Massachusetts jobs by shepherding a company toward sustainable best practices. It was a wonderful year living close to my lovely daughter and hiking the trails and landscapes of New England. Sounds like a “Happy Ending”, no? NO. Just as my bank account began to grow, I was laid off by the very company I saved. They thanked me profusely for my help, said it was nothing personal; they just couldn’t let it out in their industry (construction) that a woman had saved their company. So here I am a year later and for the first time in my working life history, unemployed. I was in tears as I prepared a special dinner I had planned weeks ago for my daughter and her cousin. “Mom, mom we got laid!” they both screamed as they came in the door. I turned to her cousin, “What?” Knowing that it had been some time since either of them had a steady boyfriend. They are so picky. Brilliant and picky. And did I say picky? “Yes, we both got laid!” she confirmed. “And your point is?” I quipped? Then came the hardest word to hear. In unison, their smiles disappeared, “Off!” So there we were, three unemployed peas in a pod, eating dinner at my discrete humble abode in the middle of a forest on the North Shore of Boston. So we regaled each other with stories of how great this year had been, seeing the Dalai Lama and Eddie Izzard. How when we all were “flush” we gave generously to our favorite arts groups, cajoled each others’ bad humor with gifts and attended charitable events; now with all three of us without work, a year into the worst global recession, the picture began to get darker. We did our best to celebrate our American Independence and freedom. At that time I had no idea where I would be in two years. It looked pretty much like Bleak House the next morning.