New at the top: He lost the job but kept his integrity

There’s nothing more important in a career than having integrity. You have to be willing to lose your job over it.

I did.

(LeapFrog Solutions) - Duff Scudder is the new chief financial operator at LeapFrog Solutions.

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I started my career in public accounting.

It made sense.

As a child I thought I would build bridges or skyscrapers because I was very analytical. But looking back I realize I’ve been building all along, only with people instead of bricks and mortar.

As an accountant I would go into companies, perform an audit, and provide corrections or recommendations on how to run their department more effectively. But I eventually began to feel like I could lead a team to fix, improve and grow a company.

So I made the move into private industry.

I’ve worked for small and medium-size companies including government contractors, telecommunications and construction companies. I worked for an e-learning company and a software developer that had operations in India, so I got some international experience.

I realized how honesty can save a company.

I remember an $80 million company asked me to manage its accounting department. This contractor was not in good shape. Cash flow was not good.

They asked me to take three months and integrate with the staff before making any changes.

But within two weeks I realized that things were terribly wrong and the numbers needed to be addressed quickly. The company thought it had a $2 million net income for the year. It ended up having a $2 million loss.

I had to tell them that if they had gone another three years at the rate they were going, they probably would have gone out of business. I identified the problem areas and helped get them on a path of managing their projects to sustain profitability.

And then eventually came the test.

Another company wanted me to send financial statements to the bank that were incorrect. If I didn’t, I knew that this company was going to lose a license that wouldn’t allow them to continue. I advised them that I couldn’t send these statements out.

Instinctively, I tried to figure out if there was a way to help them. I consulted with the Virginia Society of CPAs to make sure I considered all the right factors.

I realized there was no one way around it. I knew that in that circumstance I was probably going to lose my job there.

It put me out of a job.

You’ve got to look at challenges ahead of you and move forward. I’m grateful I was raised in an environment where you tried to figure out how to do the right thing.

You’re going to make mistakes in your life. I did. But they always taught me the values that shaped who I am.

That company ended up going out of business and morphed into a different company.

At LeapFrog, I see my role as building and developing the accounting financial systems here to manage larger operations.

I’ve also invested the time to understand how the rest of the operation works. What are they doing successfully so I can make sure what I develop fits the industry, company? Making sure I’m looking at the bigger picture to help build them and grow.

— Interview with Vanessa Small

Duff Scudder

Position: Chief financial officer, LeapFrog Solutions, a Fairfax marketing communications management firm.

Career highlights: Financial consultant, SNVC; corporate controller, TC Associates; corporate controller, Telarix; corporate controller, VCampus Corp.

Age: 57

Education: BS, commerce and accounting, University of Virginia.

Personal: Lives in Centreville with wife, Brenda. They have two children, Kristen, 23, and Connor, 20.

 
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