Birthplace: Dearborn, Mich.
Education: Bachelor of science degree, accounting, Central Michigan University; MBA, Otterbein College; post-graduate work, Kellogg Graduate School, Northwestern University
Greatest business challenge: I was still on the financial side of my career, and there was pressure [from a CEO] in terms of showing strong earnings. Accounting is not black and white. There’s a lot of judgment that goes into accounting and there was pressure to be more aggressive in some of those judgments than what I thought was right.
So the question was: What do you do? In this particular case, I knew someone who was on the board. I went to that person, and by the time I went, I was prepared to leave because I didn’t see any other way out. The advice I got from that board member was I shouldn’t leave. It was his and the board’s issue to deal with the problem.
So I held my ground, weathered the storm, and within four months, the CEO exited the organization.
Most important business lesson: The impact that a single leader can have on an organization. When I was at Scotts [Co.], we hired Chuck Berger as our CEO, and he led Scotts for five years.
We were struggling when Chuck came. But the impact he had in terms of driving the performance of the organization and providing guidance to the organization was just terrific. He really turned around Scotts.