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As a family member who constantly
had sat across the table from therapists
and teachers who had told us
everything under the sun to make
my sister the best version of herself
possible, I kind of wanted to see what
it would be like on the other side
of the table. I knew it wasn’t going
to be a long-term career move for
me, but I wanted the experience.
My sister’s name is Andrea. She is such a
profoundly positive, motivating person
in my life. I felt I wanted to maybe do
something that was a little more of a
tangible give-back, some way that I
could acknowledge early in my working
life just how great the experience of
growing up with someone with special
needs can be. Though very challenging
and stressful at times, she has given
me intuition second to none, and I just
wake up every morning feeling like I
have to accomplish something today.
Andrea is aware of the fact that she’s
disabled. As a young man, it was
sometimes very difficult talking to
her at times when she would be very
vocal of the fact that she wished she
didn’t have special needs. Because
of those interactions, I tell myself,
“OK, you have no excuse. None.
Put your best foot forward.”
When I left teaching, I didn’t move
directly into restructuring. By that
point, it was 2009, roughly, when
things really started to take a turn for
the worse in the U.S. economy. I spent
some time looking for a job in finance.
I got some very good advice from a
family friend who had been in a similar
circumstance trying to find a job in
finance in 1987 when the market had
really contracted. He said, “Find work in
an industry that has a parallel skill set.”
What that meant to me was finding
somewhere where I’d be working with
numbers, working with Excel, and
working with budgets. So I worked
in advertising at a company called
Mindshare, which is a media planning
agency. If you think of the web and
all those banner ads as little real estate
parcels, our job was to identify which of
these parcels were the biggest value-add to our client’s brand, buy those,
and manage the advertising there.
I worked that job and kept interviewing,
networking with my friends, finding
positions that might be available. I got
an interview with Scouler & Company,
and I’ve been here ever since.
Q What would you say to someone who was trying to
get into restructuring?
I remember being in New
York City trying to find a job. I went on
over 60 interviews, often going to the
interview knowing the company was
on a hiring freeze, but just trying to stay
in the habit of interviewing and
My father had this great image in his
office when I was a child of a heron
trying to eat a toad. The toad had
its arms outside the heron’s beak
with his hands hunched around the
heron’s throat. It said, “Never give
up.” I kind of take that attitude.
Q Who else inspires you, either personally or professionally?
Dan Scouler has been in
the business for over 35 years, and he
seems to have come across just about
every iteration of a turnaround or
restructuring-type situation and from
such a broad array of industries. He
knows how to make things happen. It’s
all well and good to do the analysis and
come out with a strategy or a game plan.
Well, how do you make that happen?
That’s the critical piece. And Dan’s very
good at that.
Within restructuring there seems to
be a bit of a gap between restructuring
professionals of his generation and
younger up-and-comers of my age, and
Dan definitely recognizes that gap from
hiring freezes due to the economy or
people moving into other industries, not
necessarily knowing about restructuring.
So he went about hiring younger people
in an apprentice fashion to come
to Scouler & Company and learn.
Dan’s a very real person. You can talk
to him candidly, and he doesn’t pull
any punches. That’s something that I
absolutely want in a mentor, someone
who will call it as they see it. Being able
to learn and grow under his guidance,
I just feel very grateful for that.
Q What role has your TMA membership played along the way?
It’s played a huge role. I’ve
passed the management and law
portions of the TMA Body of Knowledge
exam. Last week I took the accounting
exam, and I feel that I did well on that.
Restructuring is a difficult industry. A lot
of it is just on-the-ground experience.
But TMA does offer a curriculum.
The NextGen portion of TMA has
really gotten me deeply invested in the
organization. A collection of NextGen
restructuring professionals from around
the States all came to New York for a
three-day NextGen Leadership Meeting
last December. It was such a great event,
and meeting other people with similar
levels of motivation and interest in the
industry really got me deeply invested.
They gave us a playbook for how to really
build up a NextGen presence within our
respective regions. From that, I came
back to Southern California and teamed
up with a couple of my peers at different
firms—Kailey Crum of Grobstein Teeple
and Kelley McLaren of Trigild. I’m the
chair of the NextGen Committee and
they’re my co-chairs. We’ve been able to
get some great programming going and
some more social events for NextGen
members in Southern California.
I was subsequently selected to join the
Southern California board of directors for
TMA, along with Kelley McLaren. That