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Turning business expertise into second half significance – without abandoning either

by Lloyd Reeb. Click here to read the full article. You don’t have to abandon your corporate experience and expertise to add meaning and purpose to the second half of your life. As we’ve watched the markets drop and the economy unwind, it’s forced many to take a more focused look at our remaining years. What will our legacy be?

Using your corporate experience and expertise – rather than abandoning it.

Ken Williams was the vice president of corporate development at the Fluor Corporation. That title meant he had responsibility for private structured financing across the globe as well as all the merger and acquisition activity. It was during this busy and pressure-packed time of his life when he first began to wonder how to give his second half more meaning. His success in the VP role made him a strong candidate to take the CFO role at Fluor, and as an interim step he was asked if he wanted to take a CFO position of one of the business groups. Ken was looking for more significance and impact in the next season of his life, but wasn’t even sure if his first half skills were transferable into his second half dream to change the world. In the back of his mind he was also wondering if he was going crazy or having some sort of midlife crisis. Many of his peers could only dream of enjoying the success he had experienced.

“A friend told me about Halftime, and the web site (http://www.halftime.org/). I needed some affirmation that there were others like me with this same desire deep in their heart. That I’m not a nut job. If you’ve been working your whole career on a certain path, you’ve gone to school for it, etc. and now all of a sudden you’re thinking about just pushing all that aside and doing something different.

“At a Halftime Institute gathering I came across two different kinds of people - one was a group of people just like me who were struggling through what they are supposed do next, and another group who had sort of already figured it out to a certain extent. It was helpful to meet people at both ends of that spectrum, and people in between. If anything, I came home from that event convinced I wasn’t going off my rocker, and secondly that I should really explore this and pray about it a heck of a lot to figure out exactly what I was supposed to be doing.

“I’ve met some people who have sold everything and decided to just jump on a plane and go do volunteer work for awhile. I’ve met other people who have demonstrated what I thought made a heck of a lot more sense, which was putting the skills they had developed in the first half to work for something more meaningful. I didn’t even know how that would be possible.”
In September 2008 Ken left Fluor and joined World Vision as their new CFO. He’s discovered his expertise makes a direct contribution to an organization with a $2.5 billion annual budget and almost 30,000 staff. He gets to work with people that share a passion around justice and compassion, but he recognizes that his role is behind the scenes supporting those who are out on the front lines in poor countries doing the hands on work.

“Somebody does have to keep the organization on the right path. From a risk perspective it’s two and a half billion dollars. There are people who would like to take this organization down simply because they’ll get some sort of journalism award for writing an article that shows we’ve mishandled money. Somebody has to protect the financial integrity of an organization like this because others can’t be paying attention to these things when they’re sitting there with a starving child in front of them.”

“It is pretty cool to think that even a dweeb like me working behind the scenes, making sure the numbers make sense, can be used to change the world. I think developing perspectives about the numbers so that our president can see the levers that are in front of him that’s he’s never seen before because they’ve never the kind of financial statements that we are trained to do in corporate, and they’ve never had this level of ability to do financial planning and analysis.”

“I stand back and am awed by the people that are called to the do the hard work in the poor countries in which we work. I can’t do what they do, but I can use the gifts I’ve been given to do what I can. I am good with finances. Millions of World Vision child sponsors invest $35 a month to sponsor a poor child. That’s $420 a year. So if through better financial control we can save $400 with just one activity (and obviously we target significantly bigger savings) than just think about the numbers of children that are impacted by that.

“When you start thinking about those kinds of figures it will motivate you. You figure out a way to make it happen.”

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posted by Justin Forman | 5.28.2009 - 8:06 AM

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