industry. Prices dropped through the
floor, and several companies that I was
involved with got into financial difficulty.
One of them was Freemont Energy, a
natural gas company. They needed to
do a turnaround plan, so I got involved
working on it with them. Through the
course of that, we worked with the bank,
bankruptcy attorneys, and then a series
of others. I got interested in the field and
gained a little bit of experience in it.
I knew some people, but I didn’t know
TMA at the time. I got introduced to
TMA and then got involved through Joe
Shaya and Hunter Ellington. I could see
the opportunity for writing and doing
work in the industry, as well as getting
the industry involved with the academic
community. It was kind of natural,
but it was all through my oil and gas
involvement and the distress in the ‘80s.
Q If you were starting over, would you do anything differently?
I guess if I would have
known about this (turnaround
management) before, then I might have
gravitated to it rather than sort of
accidentally finding my way. I went
straight from undergrad to grad, then I
worked a bit, and then I went into a
doctoral program. I probably might have
spent more time working directly in
industry. I’ve worked in industry, but it’s
more through consulting and faculty
internships. Probably getting a bit more
hands-on experience would have been
something I would have done differently.
Q You’ve done a lot of work in the cable industry, correct? How did
that come about?
In the mid- or early 1980s,
one of our grad students, June Travis—
she was in the executive MBA program—
was working in cable. She worked for
American Television and
Communications—now Time Warner
Cable—and they had a project to
decentralize the company. They wanted
to take operating managers and make
them entrepreneurs and run the entire
enterprise. They found that a lot of their
operating managers didn’t have a good
finance, accounting, and negotiation
background because a lot of that was
handled at corporate. So we developed a
program for ATC.
We got involved in the industry and
learned about it, and we could see there
wasn’t a rich education base for the
industry. From that, we got involved with
various organizations to do educational
and research projects. That blossomed
over the years so that we’ve been able to
grow with the industry over the years.
program, so I had him for a second class.
This was early on, when he was just
doing his Z-Score, and he would share a
little bit of that with us. There was no
formal bankruptcy course in either the
MBA or PhD program, so I learned a little
bit from Ed.
It was similar with TMA. There wasn’t a
lot of rich literature on turnarounds that
you could use in the classroom. As we
learned about it, we then found a similar
group of people in the industry who were
interested in adding to that literature
base and helping bring academia along.
After I left NYU and started at DU
and then got more involved with the
literature, I could see how deeply
involved Ed was with turnarounds
and all the work that he’s done. I was
gratified, I think maybe six years ago,
when I was invited by Ed to join the
TMA Academic Advisory Council
because there I had a chance to get
reconnected a bit and then really more
fully understand his contributions to
the association and the industry.
Q I started hearing about the work that the chapter was doing with
the university. It seems like it
was five or six years ago, or has
it been longer than that?
It’s been about nine years.
We’ve become a little more visible about
it in the past five or six years.
Q Who inspires you professionally and personally?
Q What were your most gratifying, favorite, or important engagements
that you’ve been involved in in industry
over the course of your career?
professionally, Dan Ritchie, who was the
chancellor here at the University of
Denver for over 15 years. He was quite
successful in industry, so he took the job
of being chancellor at the university for
$1 a month. He originally wanted to do it
for $1 a year, but to get medical benefits
you had to have a monthly paycheck.
The most interesting, first
of all, was this first engagement with
Freemont Energy, just in seeing what all
of the turnaround environment looked
like. The next most interesting
engagement was my engagement with
the TMA members here in Colorado and
the case writing that we did. We met
once a week over a two-year period. To
meet the people and understand the
environment and understand the
cases—that, I think, was most gratifying.
More recently, I’ve worked on a
couple of turnaround plans for a
company that was in bankruptcy. I
worked on a turnaround plan for the
benefit of the unsecured creditors.
All of those would be interesting
milestones, I would say, in my career.
In the course of that, he proceeded to
give to DU most of his wealth, more than
$25 million, and he continues to give
to the university, even though he’s not
on the board officially anymore. He’s
very much a friend and benefactor of
the university. His background is in the
cable television industry, so he’s brought
a lot of cable people to the support
of the university. He’s very involved
in civic activities. He’s someone you
would like to pattern your life after.
Q You were a student of Ed Altman’s, right? (Edward I. Altman is the Max
L. Heine Professor of Finance at the Stern
School of Business at New York
University and director of research in
credit and debt Markets at the NYU
Salomon Center for the Study of
Financial Institutions. He created the
Z-Score, a widely used model for
predicting bankruptcies of public and
In terms of professionally, particularly
with TMA, I’m very inspired by the
membership here in Colorado. The
person I’ve worked with most closely
is Randy Lewis. We co-teach together,
we write, and we’ve worked on projects
together. He brings a blend of real
business and a sense of academia and
a sense of contribution. If you look at
the TMA membership here—Tom Kim,
Hunter Ellington, Mark Gustafson, Terry
Peltes, Andy Toft, William MacKenzie—
you find there’s a real excitement on the
part of the membership to be involved
and engaged and inclusive. So I’m
inspired by the whole group here.
That’s right. I was in the
MBA program at NYU and had Ed for one
class. He also taught in the doctoral