When David Hayden realised his company was heading for trouble, he took drastic measures to get it back on track
David Hayden founded his company, Critical Path, an email provider, in 1997 to take advantage of the boom in email traffic. Critical Path became a public company two years later, and Hayden took the opportunity to step down from his executive position in order to work on personal projects. At the same time, he agreed to stay with the company as Chairman, but the business was put in the hands of new managers by its investors. With sector-leading products and an expanding market, the company seemed to be on the up and up. However, by early 2001, it was in trouble. Shares that had been worth $26 in 1999, when they were first sold, were down to a mere 24 cents.
Called in by a panicking board, Hayden found himself back in charge as Executive Chairman, trying desperately to rescue what he could. The 1,100 staff had lost confidence in the company and did not know what was going to happen to them. And, as Hayden discovered, the management team was incompetent. Those guys didn't understand the product or the sector,' says Hayden. The heads of department didn't communicate and they didn't lead.' But what was worse, Critical Path had lost the goodwill of its investors.
Hayden knew that bringing the figures under control would be a vital step in the company's turnaround. 'You've got to sort out the finances. For me, that meant getting back the goodwill of the investors. That was tough, after what had happened. But although they were angry with the company, they didn't have bad feelings about me. I told them that I knew I could get the company on its feet again.' He was authorised to make whatever changes were required, and his first act was to find people within the company he could trust and put them in charge.
The next thing Hayden had to tackle was morale. 'Everyone left the office at five on the dot - they couldn't get away quickly enough. To get the buzz back and win the staff over, I had to prove my own commitment and put in the extra hours with them.' In return, it was assumed that nobody would ask for overtime pay until the company was on its feet again. Contrary to normal practice, Hayden was reluctant to lay people off, and apart from not replacing people as they reached retirement age, he left the workforce largely unchanged, although he did identify key people throughout the company who were given more responsibility.
But, as Hayden insists, before a company reaches such a crisis, there are warning signs that any financial director or accountant should take note of. 'A business that has an unrealistic pricing policy or has to negotiate extended credit with its suppliers is in trouble,' is his message. 'Or if you often have to apply for your overdraft limit to be raised or have trouble paying tax on time, something needs to be done.'
By 2003, the company was healthy again, with reasonably stable finances and a modest but steady share price of $1.60. 'One thing that helped save us was that our technology worked,' says Hayden. 'With 20 million email accounts, we never lost a single major client because the product kept on working.' With ideas for a fresh venture demanding his attention elsewhere, Hayden has moved on. 'It was time to go,' he says. 'I'm not a turnaround specialist. I prefer start-ups.'
13 What event coincided with Critical Path becoming a public company?
A Hayden became the Executive Director of Critical Path.
B Investors hired a replacement team to run Critical Path.
C Critical Path launched a successful new product on the market.
D Critical Path was floated on the Stock Exchange at 24 cents per share.
14 Which of the following situations did Hayden face at Critical Path in 2001?
A The employees were worried about job security.
B The investors were calling for changes to the company structure.
C The management was misleading the staff about the company's position.
D The board of directors did not realise the scale of the company's problems.
15 One reason Hayden was able to turn Critical Path around was that
A he managed to find new investors.
B the financial situation was not as bad as he had thought.
C he had built up a good relationship with the management team.
D he was given the support that he needed.
16 What was Hayden's policy regarding the staff of Critical Path?
A He paid overtime to everybody who worked outside office hours.
B He reduced the workforce by operating an early retirement scheme.
C He gave key staff the opportunity to help him set goals for the company.
D He restored motivation by showing willingness to work alongside staff.
17 According to Hayden, what could indicate that a business is in trouble?
A problems keeping accounts up to date
B suppliers refusing to offer new credit terms
C a frequent need to increase the amount borrowed
D difficulties in getting payment from customers on time
18 Hayden left Critical Path after he had rescued the company because
A he wanted to develop the technology for a new internet service.
B he wanted to concentrate on founding a new enterprise.
C he had been offered a job with a major internet company.
D he decided to go into partnership with a major client.
A不對，原文說的很明白：Hayden took the opportunity to step down from his executive position。抓住機會從總裁的位置上退下來。
B項正確。原文說the business was put in the hands of new managers by its investors。業務被投資者交給了新的經理。和B選項的“投資者雇傭了一個替代團隊來運營Critical Path”說的是一個意思。
Public company：a company whose shares can be bought and sold on the stock market, etc.上市公司。
A段說員工們擔心工作保障。原文中說“The 1,100 staff had lost confidence in the company and did not know what was going to happen to them”，1100號員工對公司失去了信心，不知道將會發生什么。和A的意思吻合。
這個題目關鍵是能理解job security的意思，它是商務英語里地道常見的用法(同樣的還有employment security)：
job security：a situation where a job is likely to last for a long time and you will keep the job if you do what you are expected to
eg: Consumers have cut back on their spending because of worries about job security.
a high/low level of job security to have/improve/increase/provide job security
15題，題目問Hayden能夠扭轉局面的一個原因。答案在第三段找，并不很直接，需要一點概括。這一段先說了下公司的一些難處，比如投資人很生氣，后果很嚴重。所幸的是投資人對Hayden并不反感：He was authorised to make whatever changes were required，他被授權進行一切需要的改變，也就是D選項所說的得到了需要的支持。
A不對，不需要找新的投資者，原文說的是“getting back the goodwill of the investors”，挽回投資人的好感。
16題，問針對Critical Path的員工采取的政策是什么。答案是第四段的第一句話：The next thing Hayden had to tackle was morale。需要解決的是士氣問題。也就是D段所說的restored motivation。這一段是講Hayden如何與員工站在一起。
A不對，原文說的很清楚：it was assumed that nobody would ask for overtime pay until the company was on its feet again。任何人不得索取加班補償。
B不對，原文是apart from not replacing people as they reached retirement age。
C也不對，原文是who were given more responsibility，被賦予了更多的責任，不是“help him set goals”。17題，題目問什么可以表明一個公司陷入了困境。答案是第五段的這么一句：A business that has an unrealistic pricing policy or has to negotiate extended credit with its suppliers is in trouble。有一個不現實的定價政策或者需要和供貨商談判提高貸款。
money that financial institutions lend to businesses, governments and people
eg：It is unlikely that the bank will extend additional credit to the firm.
答案是最后一段：“With ideas for a fresh venture demanding his attention elsewhere”和“I'm not a turnaround specialist. I prefer start-ups.”需要一個嶄新的需要他的注意力的企業。也就是B選項所說的想要一個新的企業。