Why Use A Corporate Turnaround Expert?

Mike Teng

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Sick companies have waited, hoping that their nightmare would be over soon. But things often get worse before they get better.

It is normal that when a person falls sick, the first thing you do is to see a doctor. Many seriously sick people will have no hesitation to go to the emergency unit of the hospital to get treatment. In companies, the owners and management normally do not seek help till it is too late. But why allow this situation to explode into a financial crisis? The company needs to go into intensive care, otherwise, it will go under and the owners will become a bankrupt or lawsuits could be filed against them.

What has just described happens to thousand of companies every day in Asia. Many of us just do not seek help early enough for our corporate woes due to unfounded fears and reasons - what if the bank learns about it and pulls the credit facilities? What if the employees learn about the poor state of health and jump ship? With the face-saving culture in Asia, what if my friends, customers and business associates learn that I am not doing well, would they reject me? Why should I call on the Corporate Turnaround Expert in Asia?

When you need a heart by-pass, you naturally call in a cardiologist rather than any general practitioner. When you have tax problems, you call in a tax consultant and not any accountant. Yet, many troubled companies make the fatal mistake of not approaching the right professional for help. Many continue to use their own internal management who are already like a deer caught in the floodlights, petrified and totally clueless on how to move forward.

Many of us would not use self-medication if we were seriously sick. Yet, we make this mistake when managing our troubled businesses. Most of the time, a troubled company cannot be fixed solely from the within. The management may harbour too much prejudices, vested interests and baggage. If the medicine is too bitter, the management may not have the guts to swallow it. The company needs somebody from the outside who is able to say “no" firmly when necessary. If the internal management is the cause of the problems, then the use of the internal management is like using leeches to cure leukemia.

Managers from successful companies will not cut it as they have not had to work with low-morale employees, creditors screaming for payments and diminishing market share as clients switch to competitors.

The sick company needs to hire a Corporate Turnaround Expert with many years of turnaround experience grounded with proven turnaround techniques. As an outsider, the corporate turnaround expert brings unfair advantages to the turnaround process. The Corporate Turnaround Expert has no emotional baggage tied to a new dream or historically interesting but economically irrelevant service. Nor is the Corporate Turnaround Expert beholden to the present management. He or she can ask dump questions without looking dump. One or two dump questions will turn out to be brilliant ones.

Contrary to expectation, employees will accord the Corporate Turnaround Expert the co-operation. These employees understand that the Corporate Turnaround Expert represents their last chance and that he or she did not create the problems. They will be open to the Corporate Turnaround Expert as they know that he or she is there to help the company succeed. With the right demeanour and without any rudeness, the employees will guide the Corporate Turnaround immediately towards the major problems.

Care has to be taken in the selection of a company doctor or turnaround specialist or Corporate Turnaround Expert in Asia. There are many professionals in Asia who profess to be turnaround specialists but are actually only financial people who are preoccupied with cost-cutting measures. is important.

Certainly such skills are important but it is only part of the answer. The specialist also needs to have gone through adversity and has track record of successfully turning around troubled companies. Why spend another sleepless night worrying what to do next? Similar to taking care of your physical health, early diagnosis and proper treatment are keys to your corporate recovery. Sick companies just cannot afford another day to procrastinate.

When you are afflicted by cancer, immediately see an oncologist and do not rely on your family doctor. There is a cure for your corporate cancer if proper treatment is administered early enough. The selection of the right turnaround specialist to help the company quickly is crucial. If it is done too late, even the turnaround specialist may not be able to help you.


Dr Mike Teng (DBA, MBA, BEng, FIMechE, FIEE, CEng, PEng, FCMI, FCIM, SMCS) is the author of the best-selling business book “Corporate Turnaround: Nursing a sick company back to health", in 2002. In 2006, he authored another book entitled, “Corporate Wellness: 101 Principles in Turnaround and Transformation. " Dr Teng is widely recognized as a turnaround CEO in Asia by the news media. He has 27 years of experience in corporate responsibilities in the Asia Pacific region. Of these, he held Chief Executive Officer’s positions for 17 years in multi-national, local and publicly listed companies. He led in the successful turnaround of several troubled companies. He is currently the Managing Director of a business advisory firm, Corporate Turnaround Centre Pte Ltd, which assists companies on a fast track to financial performance. Dr Teng was the President of the Marketing Institute of Singapore (2000 – 2004),


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