Mike McKenzie - Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO)


Most of the time, when good companies get off track they are able to self-correct and get back on course without losing altitude.  They do this with leadership from the CEO and the C-Suite while relying upon in-place organizational resources, including the board and outside resources such as legal counsel, CPA firms and consultants. 

Should the situation become dire, it may require the services of leading corporate restructuring advisors like Alix Partners, Alvarez & Marsal or FTI, bringing in their own teams of people in order to put a face on the commitment to reversing course in order to appease key creditors and shareholder groups. 

This approach, while valuable in very large cases, introduces a complexity all in its own, not to mention the enormous burden of consulting fees from $1 million to month to over $50 million per month in the case of Lehman Brothers.

But who does the CEO rely upon to best coordinate these issues in order to keep flying through the storm?.  The C-Suite was busy before trouble struck and now this. 

Increased levels of urgency, the fogginess of big data and the persistent sideshow of one-dimensional consultants, all clamoring for attention: , how does the C-Suite manage.?  Who do they trust to allocate the scarce resources of the C-Suite.?

Enter the wingman, the Chief Restructuring Officer, the CRO. 

While the C-Suite addresses the issues in the normal course, unexpected, adverse circumstances create the temporary need for an additional C-Level officer, the CRO – the wingman.  Whether it’s a small squall requiring 30 days of focused attention or a full-on typhoon requiring three to nine months of intensive action, the wingman adds the experience of “navigating the storm” - getting to the sunny skies on the other side as soon as possible.

 CRO’s don’t arrive with a team.  The team is already in-place and it’s the C-Suite with leadership and an organizational structure in-place.  Adding people at a time like this, particularly outsiders, will only complicate matters, increase execution risk, and extend the time required, increase cost and even put the company into play.  Take caution of those showing up with their own team.  Your dirty laundry doesn’t get any cleaner with more people touching it.  This needs to be kept close. 

Success fees?  Do you pay your doctor a bonus if you live?  Of course not.  Doctors are well compensated to begin with as are CRO’s.  CRO’s shouldn’t be compensated to take on extra risk for a success fee.  They’re compensated to mitigate risk, minimize risk, restore profitability and then leave – confidently, professionally, and quietly – without an attendant media circus and closing bell PR shots.  If your CRO shows up in the media, you’ve probably got the wrong guy. – you don’t need a buglight operator.

What does it mean to be a wingman ?

A wingman is a pilot who supports another in a potentially dangerous flying environment. 

The wingman's role is to add an element of mutual support to aerial combat effectiveness. 

The presence of a wingman makes the flight both offensively and defensively more capable by increasing firepower and situational awareness, permitting the attack of enemies, and increasing the ability to employ more dynamic tactics.

To paraphrase in business terms, the wingman’s job is to support leadership by helping to assess the situation, minimize loss and mitigate risk by adding elements of mutual support to restore business effectiveness.

The presence of the wingman restores business effectiveness by restoring business credibility at the top-line for customer effectiveness and the bottom-line for financial credibility.