Monday, March 7, 2011

A Synopsis...of Sorts

Sort of in that I just don't do short stories all that well, right?


This week I had an assignment for my class to:

  1. Interview the finance person for a non-profit/government/healthcare organization; and
  2. Get them to reveal their most pressing financial challenge for the coming year[s] to me; and
  3. Write a BRIEF (one order of Heather's Kryptonite coming right up!) memo to the instructor detailing said organization and their respective challenge, as well as my 'penetrating analysis, offering sage advice."
Because either the instructor didn't get the memo that we are all students, many of whom have never had direct financial management experience outside of casa del :insert last name here:, or he uses sage advice with license looser than the tooth my daughter refuses to just. pull. out. already!

I usual.

Anyway, the caveat was that we were to pick complex situations, and organizations for whom we didn't currently work.  Hmmm....Well, he didn't say we couldn't pick an organization for which we used to work, so I shot off an e-mail to the CFO of the organization that hired me fresh out of college some 9 years ago.

Dear CFO dude who used to really intimidate my 22 year old self with both his physical stature and his intellectual command of numbers,
Hi!  Remember me?
I really hoped he didn't actually remember me, as in actually working together with me, because I was really young, green, and well, I shot my mouth off at him on my last day.  To my credit, he was being a jerk at the time and I was later praised by others for my boldness.  Perhaps he remembered me for my work with the homeless count, or other such community presence.

Blah, blah, blah - hey, I'm doing an assignment for grad school, and could you do me a favor by interviewing with me? 
His response was, yes of course he remembered me, yes, he'd love to help me out, yada yada, bada bing, we set a date and time.

The other day I set out to interview him and as we reacquainted ourselves, he pretty much told me that I'd left a good name with the agency and if I'd like to help them out with some grant-writing while their development director was out on maternity leave, they'd love to have my help.  Remember when I said that whole deal about breaking the nets?  Yeah!

Then we get down to business.

Except he paints this totally rosy picture for me about the agency's fiscal outlook.  Bottom line is that legislation being implemented re: Medicaid eligibility, not to mention the impact of our craptastic economy, has increased the number of folks eligible for their services, and since that is the bulk of their budget - business was booming.

We talk a few other details and I get kind of stuck.

I say, wrinkling my nose in quiet frustration, "Well.....the assignment was for me to identify your challenges and then," I go into air-quote mode, "offer my 'sage advice' on what to do to address those challenges.  But it seems like you guys have already had your challenging years and are now rebuilding.  Hmmm..."

He says, "Yeah....I might challenge you to talk to another non-profit and compare and contrast...."

I look at him and tap my pen on my notepad a few seconds.

Something clicks.

"So, you basically have said that due to the bad economic conditions more people are becoming Medicaid-eligible, due in part to unemployment or under-employment, and that has benefited you.  What happens when the economy rebounds, and those consumers who came to you in their unemployment find new jobs, with insurance, and say, you're not in the insurance's network so they leave?  What do you do then, I mean it seems like you might be in a 'bubble' like the housing market was in, right?"

He looks at me and smiles, in concession.  "You," he says pointing at me, "You always were a pain in my side with your questions, weren't you?"  And it seems like some of the memories of my days with him are returning.  He clarifies, "I mean that in a good way, ya know?  It means you're smart, and that's good - really good.  But for someone like me, it is SO ANNOYING!"  He laughs and nods his head.  "That right there, that's our biggest challenge over the next five years.  Bing-O."  It was such a fraternal way of paying a high compliment - and with the earlier job offer, I was practically floating on the clouds!

I smile and tell him, "See, I can make this assignment work after all - just had to dig a bit!"

We talked some more and wrapped up.  Then he took me to meet the development staff person who wasn't on maternity leave - whom I actually worked with, albeit only via e-mail, while I was at the city.  Then he told on her that she had once confided in her co-worker that CFO Dude really intimidated her too and that she didn't like to work with him!  We laughed and talked some more and I really began to see CFO dude in a new light, one that made him look less like a bogeyman who could chew me up and spit me out.

Then, he asked Development #2 if she could take me to the clubhouse (a vocational rehab site for the consumers) and give me a tour, which she did.  It was amazing and I was truly proud to have had some affiliation with such a meaningful organization.

And, cut!  This is so long, and yet it has virtually none of the she-said-and-then-I-said details that my hubby and friends got to hear - thus, I stand by my title.
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  1. That's really cool! It's funny how we see people differently with the passing of time. Hope you get that contract!