build a platform with the local expertise
of Superbid in that environment is
a really great challenge for me.
Q You talked a little bit about it earlier, but what role has your TMA
membership played in your career?
FI R T H It’s been really critical in my
career in a number of different ways. I
was at Bank of Boston in the
restructuring department in the early
‘90s, when TMA in the Northeast was just
beginning. I was a member back then. I
participated in meetings, and it was a
great community from which to
exchange ideas and get thoughtful
advice and, frankly, to get career advice. I
think with TMA, like many associations,
you only get out of it what you put into it.
When I started Woodside with my
partner Scott Schooley, I came back into
the fold, if you will, and got very much
involved with TMA.
I can’t tell you how many times
opportunities came to me because of
my involvement in TMA—investment
opportunities, transactions that I
was able to do with TMA members.
And ultimately, being involved on
the board and becoming president
of TMA Northeast for a year were
all experiences that I think helped
develop my entrepreneurial side and
leadership skills, but they also gave
me the opportunity to meet other
people who definitely influenced me
along the way. Sheila Smith was one
of those people. She was the person
who organized the event where I
ended up meeting Rodrigo Santoro
and ultimately getting this opportunity
to work on this project in Brazil.
I’m involved in TMA Brazil as well,
which has been really interesting. The
membership there is very different
than the membership in the Northeast
Chapter. It’s much more oriented
toward turnaround consultants and
lawyers, and there are very few investors
and bankers involved at the moment.
Hopefully we can bring some of those
constituents in over the next year or two.
Q How’s the Brazil Chapter doing?
FIR TH I think it’s doing well. They
have about 400 members. Clearly São
Paulo is the center of the business
community there. I would say most of
the programs are in São Paulo, although
they are organizing programs outside
of the city. Given the environment
there, TMA is a great resource for a
variety of different constituents, as well
as for the Brazilian government in
terms of efforts to change the
bankruptcy laws to make it easier for
companies to successfully restructure.
Q What advice would you have for someone who was new to the
industry or was looking to get into
FIR TH I would say to learn all you
can from the people around you. Clearly
TMA gives you significant opportunities
to do that. Speaking specifically about
distressed investing, I think that having a
background in credit and some form of
formal credit training, either through
banks or investment banks, is a huge
help. But again, I think for anyone
entering any new career field, my advice
is to reach out to as many experienced
professionals as you can and do what
you can to learn from them.
Q If you could start your own career over would you do
FIR T H I don’t think so. I think that
most people, as they grow throughout
their careers, have challenges and really
great moments, and I think it’s the
combination of both of those that really
make people who they are. I’ve had
challenges and really great opportunities
over my career, and to some extent I
think the challenges have really made
me who I am.
Q The challenges probably set you up for some of those opportunities
down the road.
FIR TH Exactly. I would say if there
was one piece of advice I would give to
more junior people in the industry, it
would be don’t be afraid to take a risk. If
you have some self-confidence, even if
you take a risk and it doesn’t work out, it’s
not the end of the world. You can make
adjustments and you can make changes.
But to not take that risk can sometimes
end up with a person regretting not
doing it because they don’t know what
could have happened.
Q That’s true. So, what about outside the office? What would people who
only know you professionally be most
surprised to learn about you?
FIR T H I really like adventure travel.
Despite the fact that my husband does
not like adventure travel, I’ve been really
lucky to have other friends and family
members who enjoy it and have been
willing to share in that with me. I
climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with my
business partner Scott Schooley about
10 years ago. That was a great
experience. It was followed by a safari,
which was “much more comfortable,”
with my family afterwards.
Then I took a one-week adventure trip
deep into the Amazon jungle with my
daughter, where we stayed on what
was basically a floating inn. That was
just amazing, seeing the wildlife, and
we went into a couple of Amazon
communities. These communities are
literally totally isolated and only have
50 or 60 people. I also did a hiking
trip in Patagonia with my daughter.
Q What surprised you most about the Amazon?
FIR TH Probably the most
surprising thing about the Amazon
was how hot it was. I have never been
in a place as hot as the Amazon. We
literally did nothing between 11 a.m.
and 3 p.m., other than lunch, because it
was so hot that you really couldn’t go
out and do anything. It was amazing,
the simple life that the people of the
Amazon live and the nature—the
alligators and the pink dolphins and the
number of different birds you see. It
was a great experience. Because this
inn was on the river, we had caiman,
their alligators, swimming underneath
the docks where we were staying.
Q Did you plant the adventure travel bug pretty deeply in your daughter?
FIR TH No doubt about it. The apple
doesn’t fall far from the tree. She’s
actually been in New Zealand for the
past year or so running horseback
riding tours in Queenstown. She
definitely got that bug, probably much to
her father’s distress. I think her father
would much rather she was in an office
working over spreadsheets.
Q Is there anything you’d like to add?
FIR TH I’ve been really lucky. I have
never considered my work to be work
because I loved it, and I still do love it.
To have the opportunity to make
money doing something you love is not
something you find every day. That’s so
important to living a full life. That’s
really what restructuring did for me. J