competitive, and I was not just satisfied
with completing a task and moving on.
Indelicato: Was there one particular
challenge or particular case that helped
you get to where you are now?
Etlin: I began my career by joining
a consulting firm in a high-growth,
small business specific to the retail
space. The business back then was
countercultural, but I felt I was good at
restructuring. My key decision to enter
the business was that I had a knack for
it and liked it and was blunt enough, so
I stuck with it. After the first five years
of joining restructuring, it was about
internally networking to make sure I
got on the projects that I wanted.
Basta: The biggest challenge I had was
when I switched firms and really had no
one else. I don’t think I really appreciated
my network [until then]. No one can
do it alone in this business, so I had
to learn everyone’s skill set, as well as
reprove myself to the new company.
after your name. So I became one of
the youngest practice leaders nationally
and, frankly, I hated it. Instead of it
being all about my clients and being
in the thick of the deals, I was doing
things like mitigating conflicts and
working out HR (human resource)
issues. After five years, I even took the
initiative to step down out of that role.
Indelicato: Are there any other pieces
of wisdom you’d like to impart?
Basta: The best decision I made was
to basically work for a company with
big deal flow and never turn down
work. Every time a new opportunity
comes up, you learn something new. I
believed I was lucky to be doing what
I was doing, so for me every project
I got on would be a new experience.
Everyone talks about networking,
and if you work on a lot of stuff, you’ll
meet a lot more people and be able to
build the connections that will last.
Suckow: The restructuring community
is a small community, so I believe
you need to like what you do but,
more importantly, also to like who
you are working with. I would tell
you to observe and learn from all the
dynamics and possibly get involved
in an informal or formal mentorship
program. This is a tough business, so
be tough on the issues, not the people,
as you will probably be working with
them again someday. I believe you
Suckow: Well I agree, change can be
very tough, but it is usually a good
thing. My most significant change in
my career was when Arthur Andersen
basically blew up. I was asked to
step in as essentially the CRO (chief
restructuring officer) for Arthur Andersen
U.S. In the evenings I spent time
negotiating about seven offers for the
199 people in my group. At the end of
the day, the most significant decision [I
made] was to take care of the people.
Etlin: I also grew up in a big-firm culture,
and at the firm, the track to success
was to become a practice leader, a title