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Jan 27, 2011

“My company, TorranceLearning, and I began working with Debra in August of this year as we were beginning to outgrow our current accounting and bookkeeping set-up. We were at the point where we needed to add metrics and support for decision-making into our financial management picture. Debra started by helping me to define my vision for my company and for my life. Debra then helped us organize (and simplify!) our accounts and build some checks and balances into our day-to-day processes. Once things were cleaned up – which gave her a very good sense for how our business works – she and I went to town defining a few key metrics and setting processes in place for calculating them quickly, without a lot of extra work. All this with an eye to the original vision. Debra has trained individual team members at TorranceLearning, and she’s conducted an all-hands training session as well as we begin the process of opening our books to the entire team. Throughout the process, Debra has been a trusted advisor, sensible sounding board, and devoted fan. It’s not unusual for Debra to send encouraging & inspiring emails to keep me on the path to my goals. I wholeheartedly recommend Debra to my fellow entrepreneurs!”

More from Debra Christein…
Success Stories

About the Author
Debra has worked for the past 20 years as a Financial Officer with companies "on the verge" of going to the next stage of their development, having to move from an ad hoc method of business management to a more mature business model with business systems that support the company's operations and consistent with the corporate culture. She successfully addresses the key problems that business owners face at this point in their companies growth: Strong sales/weak cash, Increasing revenues/decreasing margins, and Lots of data/scarce information. Debra has been extremely effective in working with companies in this period of growth and change, thereby: Avoiding the cash crunches associated with rapid growth, Revamping invoicing and collection procedures, Instituting scalable and sustainable business systems and information flow, Defining key metrics for benchmarking, Implementing regular reporting of critical metrics to officers and education and reporting to staff, Implementing integrated accounting packages, Facilitating the creation of vision, goals and actions, Using sound business practice to leverage a company's product or service offering. Organizing admin staff into a team that works together to support company in a seamless manner Successfully bridging the gap between the collegial culture of a university spin off and the incorporation of sound business practices, an example of which is the Business Game which reinforced sound business practices in the staff in a fun, effective and light handed way Prior to her role as a CFO, Debra worked for 10 years in transactional-oriented finance roles in the investment banking, credit enhancement and commercial real estate arenas, gaining experience in complex financial transactions, including loan negotiations, business acquisitions, asset securitizations and leasing agreements. The result is a background in bringing projects to a successful conclusion while working with multiple players and varied agendas to create agreement on the end goal. One of the most challenging assignments in Debra's career was as the officer liaison and mentor to in-house IT staff in the creation of a consulting division for the parent company. She succeeded in successfully differentiating this commodity business via business model considerations, operational systems and employee training. Specifically, she Created and led the initial visioning process of the division, after which the company tripled in sales the first year and then doubled the following year, all the while remaining cash flow positive Created and implemented a cash sensitive business model - as a result the company was cash flow positive from day 35 of its spin off to its own accounting entity Envisioned and implemented operating systems to manage and coordinate staff service schedules as the company grew from 4 to 17 staff Successfully addressed the "geek factor" which allowed highly technical staff to take responsibility for and be effective in dealing with clients in the field Created a training and orientation program for new staff that had them functioning within the established procedures and protocols for client service within a few weeks of hire Managed the negotiations for the spin off of this division and maintained an attitude and approach of "win win". Debra received her MBA in Finance and Information Systems from the University of Michigan, building on undergraduate and graduate work in the life and environmental sciences. Debra is on the marketing committee for the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce, the Helen Cleary Giving Circle, on the planning committee for the CFO Roundtable and on the Steering Committee and Co-Chair for the annual conference for WXW - Women's Exchange of Washtenaw County. Debra also gives workshops and motivational keynotes on business futuring and individual career development.
View Debra’s Personal Website


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