Hire Callings

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

Published in 2005, Last Effects tells the story of a business consultant who
decides to investigate his brother’s death during the Vietnam War. As the plot
unfolds, the main character, Jack Keane, is weathering a career challenge in the
form of a new client even as he begins to realize that his
brother’s death may not have been accidental. “I wanted
the protagonist to be challenged professionally and personally,”
explains Joyce, who spent three years in the Marines,
including a stint in Vietnam.

Typically, says the 57-year-old, “CFOs get in trouble if
they get creative. Finance and writing have a lot in common;
both have their own language and both require you to string
words and numbers together to produce a complete story or
picture.” When they are combined — Joyce wove his knowledge
of fraud-recognition software into the plot of Last Effects, for example — it
generates “a bit of authenticity and color,” he says.

Having a passion to write doesn’t guarantee success, however. After facing
multiple rejections, Joyce quickly realized how “very difficult [it is] to get into publishing
houses and booksellers if you haven’t been published before,” and opted
to launch his own publishing company, Centennial Books. “It’s become quite an
expensive hobby,” he says. And while his first book has sold only 200 copies, Joyce
is hopeful that the second one, Father Land, will do better.

“Our motto at Centennial Books is, ‘Publishing fact and fiction for fun and
profit,’” he says. The profit part may not have been realized yet, but for Joyce, it’s
much more satisfying than writing a 10-K. — L.D.

Save the Environment

Joy Covey looks back at her time as CFO of Amazon.com as “180
percent intensity on one narrow slice of life.” When she left in 2000, at age
37, she says, “it was time to think about the rest.”

Not “rest” as in taking it easy, of course. Living in Utah with her
family, Covey has since focused much of her energy on environmental
issues and maintaining open spaces in the West. “It’s the area I feel
the most urgency about,”
she says. “The Bush Administration’s
assault on the environment
has been very energizing.”

Her response has been
to start the Beagle Foundation
with her anesthesiologist
husband, and to serve on several
boards, including the
National Resources Defense
Council (NRDC) and the
Santa Fe Institute, which is
devoted to the study of problems
that transcend traditional
fields of study.

Covey launched the
foundation in 2000 with a
broad mandate that included
making environmental
grants. She and her husband
sharpened their skills by
attending Philanthropy
Workshop West, a crash course in maximizing effective giving.


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