Case Studies


Client:  ACT, the several hundred million dollar, 54 year old company known for educational testing.

Challenge:  The new CEO had a vision of the company focused on information and complete product offerings for the K-Career market worldwide.  The culture of the company lacked employee empowerment and had no strategic plan.  The headquarter location in Iowa City, Iowa was considered to be a major impediment to recruiting diverse and high level talent.

Solution:  Don knew the CEO from his prior work with him, so “got” his vision right away.  Don's broad-based business experience provided context to understand the complex, interwoven issues facing ACT.

Transforming a company is based on changing a culture.  Changing a culture requires the right team.  This is where we came in.

The CEO cleared the field of many legacy staff and made way for new hires.  A number of new positions were created to facilitate the transformation.

We recruited:

  • Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer (new position)
  • Chief Operating Officer (new position, later revised)
  • Chief Talent Officer (new position)
  • Chief Innovation Officer (new position)
  • Vice President of International Programs (new position)
  • Chief Information Officer (completely redefined role)

This group, recruited from both coasts and the Midwest, brought a new level of experience, perspective and talents to ACT.  Diversity of thought and background was greatly enhanced with experience that included Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Sun Microsystems, Fraunhofer, Humana, McKinsey & Company, Siemens and Citigroup.

Through the insights gained working with ACT, Don was able to facilitate a strategy session that helped clarify key elements of a going forward strategy that is enabling the strategic goals for the transformed ACT.

ACT is now the leading educational testing company and is well on its way to becoming an information company with worldwide reach.


Client:  Mercury Interactive, a near $1B leading supplier of enterprise software for corporate governance.  Acquired by HP.

Challenge:  The company was one of the first to face challenges related to options grant pricing.  The CEO, CFO and Corporate Counsel were terminated and the stock was de-listed.  A new team was necessary to instill a new level of governance for ongoing business while retaining staff and not hindering new revenue.  At the same time, a restatement of 10 years of revenue was required before stock re-listing could occur. 

Solution:  Don quickly understood the challenges faced by the company.  Don's relationships with boards, CEO’s, CFO’s and public accounting firms provided a strong foundation to understand what was needed. 

The company moved a senior executive into the CFO role and we recruited:

  • Chief Accounting Officer to lead a $70M restatement effort. 
  • Chief Information Officer to bring new systems and capability to the company.
  • Worldwide Controller, Professional Services.
  • Vice President of Business Operations to oversee finance operations.
  • Senior Vice President of Global Services to enhance and diversify the revenue stream .

The work of the new team powered through the restatement, re-listed the stock, reported outstanding financial results and was quickly acquired by HP.

Delivering Results with Speed

Client:  A Public Company

Challenge:  The CFO departs unexpectedly.

Solution:  Recruit a CFO ASAP.

Don was recommended by a board member for a public company CFO search.  It was 30 days before an earnings call.  The CEO explained the situation to Don and we signed an engagement letter that day.  Utilizing his long term Silicon Valley ties, Don surfaced a number of well-qualified candidates who could become available on short notice.  A final candidate was selected, interviewed, and a compensation package negotiated rapidly in part because the search had the full attention of the CEO and the board.

The company later sold at a high multiple to its past value.

A similar situation occurred with another public company.  In this case Don won a bet with the CEO that he could finish the search within 30 days.

Client:  LiveHive

Challenge:  Recruit the first VP of Marketing without delay.

Solution:  Don understood the need and the market.  Don utilized social media and other channels and sources to quickly surface a variety of candidates, gaining “hottest opportunity” notoriety on LinkedIn.

With a very responsive CEO and Board Chair, several candidates were interviewed.  A rapid choice was made and an offer was accepted in 45 days.