Hire Callings

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

The gamble paid off. Although it took
Groth Winery and Estate two years to sell all
10,000 cases of its 1983 cabernet sauvignon,
word spread. Then, in a stunning development,
critic Robert Parker gave the 1985
Groth Reserve Cabernet a 100 rating — the
first California wine ever to receive his perfect
mark. Suddenly, business skyrocketed,
with sales doubling and then tripling.

Last year, Groth Winery and Estate
sold 65,000 cases, and word is that several
larger operations wouldn’t mind buying the
farm. But Groth has too much skin in the
game. “Judy and I were looking back at the
data recently, and we said, ‘What ever
prompted us to take this risk?’ We put
everything we had into it.” — John Goff

Spread the Word

Blythe J. McGarvie remembers
the trigger very well. It was August
2002, and she was a shocked
bystander as former accounting
giant Arthur Andersen — the firm
where she had spent her formative
work years — was dismantled,
almost overnight.

“If a company of that historic caliber
and ethics could disappear, what did that mean
for so many other companies that didn’t come close?” she says.

At the time, McGarvie was three years into a CFO stint with Bic
Group, living in Paris and New York, and had returned the maker of disposable
pens and lighters to a positive cash-flow position. It was her
second CFO gig, having previously been finance chief at Hannaford
Bros., a Maine-based grocery retailer. But the whole Andersen episode
“shook me” so much, she says, that she paused to reevaluate her
skills — which included communication in addition to finance — and her
most satisfying accomplishments — developing future finance leaders.

That reassessment gave rise to the novel idea that she might
help company leaders gain “financial savvy, a global perspective, and
integrity.” By January 2003 she had done the unthinkable: moved back
to the United States to start her own company, Leadership for International
Finance LLC — one part consultancy, one part executive
coaching firm, and one part advocate for the importance of finance,
even for nonfinance professionals.

Almost four years later, the 49-year-old McGarvie describes her
new life as “more like jazz than a symphony.” She has published a
book, Fit in, Stand out: Mastering the FISO Factor for Business and Life
(October 2005, McGraw-Hill), in which she outlines her six “catalytic
agents” for becoming a more effective leader, including financial acuity
and integrity. In addition, she addresses audiences around the
world on finance’s potential and also finds time to sit on five for-profit
boards, including Accenture. And while McGarvie admits that
she would jump back into the C-suite if the right offer came along, she
cautions, “I’m probably not free for a while.” — L.C.


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