Thursday, May 24, 2007

Homage to Big Bill

Last week ten of us from Saatchi & Saatchi took Big Bill Cochrane, our Worldwide Chief Financial Officer, to lunch at the Soho House in New York. It was a sunny Spring New York day and we booked the private dining room to celebrate Bill's 25 years with Saatchi & Saatchi. Bill is a rare and perfect CFO. For a start, he is a true business partner who ensures we always deliver the numbers and that governance is total, but on top of that, he always manages to add his unique touch of emotional commitment, empathy, and business savvy. Bill has seen them come and seen them go. He has weathered every conceivable storm and is the glue that keeps the Saatchi & Saatchi Network operating in good times and tough times. He's also the go-to guy for everyone in the company and knows where all the skeletons and bodies are buried. In our industry, 25 years of service is a rarity, and I can tell you Bill's got plenty more years ahead of him.

Three years ago when the Greater New York Toyota Dealers Association’s business was walking out the door, Bill got a new lease of life. In a case of management brilliance by me (or a desperate throw of the dice!), we asked Bill to save the business. He immediately assembled a team of pirates and vagabonds who loved selling cars and then hit the road for ten days, meeting with every Toyota Dealer in the Greater New York Region. Miraculously they saved the business and have gone from strength to strength delivering brilliant campaigns, great ideas, and terrific initiatives 24/7. Kevin Honey and Neal Foard lead the team with Bill and having lunch with the three of them is an experience not to be missed. The stories they tell of the New York automobile business are a cross between American Idol, The Sopranos, and 24, with maybe a touch of Lost thrown in. The last time we did it, lunch started at 1:00pm and we were still going at my place at 7:00pm with Bill telling stories – most of which had happy endings.

Bill Cochrane has been one of the main connectors of past, present and future in our company. He is the model for what a real world CFO business partner should be. We need more of 'em!