Hire Callings

Leaving a finance career doesn't necessarily mean leaving finance.

Now carrying a full-time teaching load,
including the introductory accounting class, Paisley
sprinkles his lectures and class discussions
with his own experiences. There is plenty to tell
from his 15 years of growing a high-flying technology
company. And he keeps adding to his repertoire. Last year, as chairman of the audit committee
at Brocade Communications, Paisley led the internal
investigation into the backdating of stock
options there. “It was an eye-opening experience,”
says Paisley, who attended 88 board meetings in
one year at the company, where two former executives
became the first indicted in the scandal.

Still, the most satisfaction he finds these days
is in class. “Almost without fail, at the end of a quarter
one or more students will shake my hand and say
it was the best class he’s ever taken.” — Lori Calabro

Open a B&B

Travel to the Annabelle
Inn, in Aspen, Colorado, and
you’ll find plenty of evidence
of owner Dennis Chookaszian.
Scattered throughout
the one-story bed-and breakfast
are the ski boots
and poles his family has used
over the past 50 years. Even
the name Annabelle has a
connection: it’s his mother’s.

What might not be so readily apparent is the sweat equity that
Chookaszian put in to bring the stylish B&B into existence. Chookaszian,
who was CFO of CNA Insurance for 15 years before moving to president
and chairman, spent 4 years developing the hotel that opened
in January 2005 and describes it as “a labor of love.”

Not that it didn’t have a difficult birth. “Construction was a
nightmare,” remembers the 63-year-old, who worked on the design
with an architect and oversaw the entire process. The first contractor
went bankrupt, the permitting process took two years, and building in
the mountains offered endless obstacles. Chookaszian’s finance skills
were always in evidence, although he says there was “nothing sophisticated
about it.” But he did fall back on his engineering knowledge (he
has degrees in chemical and biological engineering). Case in point: the
former owner refused to allow inspectors, so Chookaszian had to
determine himself that the original structure needed to be torn down.

The result is an inn with all the amenities Chookaszian likes to
have in his own travels. Sitting on six public-company boards means
that “I still travel 200,000 miles a year,” he says. So it’s not surprising
that the inn features all the most up-to-date electronics, with a
flat-screen TV in every room and wireless Internet access. And there
is “air conditioning in each room, which is actually very important in
Aspen,” he adds.

Chookaszian admits that his ventures seem somewhat
removed from his days in finance, but he says he now has something
even better to crow about than a rising stock price: “TripAdvisor has rated us number one of all the B&Bs in Aspen.” — L.C.

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