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Charles Faron speaks to DaulatGuru.com

Charles Faron
Charles Faron is a Senior Advisor at Duff & Phelps, which is a leading global independent provider of financial advisory and investment banking services. Charles has extensive experience leading high-technology and business services companies through operational restructurings and periods of dynamic growth.




 

Charles Faron was President and Chief Executive Officer of venture-backed portfolio companies and division president of large public companies. In addition, Charles has served on numerous private boards and worked with many buy-side investment banks in pursuit of merger and acquisition transactions. Throughout his career he has led corporate transformations taking enterprises towards profitability, stable financial performance, significant top-line growth, improved operational execution and measured client satisfaction. Charles is the former Senior Vice President of Professional and Client Services at Astea International and President and Chief Executive Officer of Navitas Technologies, a high-technology research, development and manufacturing company. He also held top leadership positions at ServiceConnection, Canopy International, Systems & Computer Technology Corporation and First Winthrop Corporate. John began his career with French American Banking Corporation of New York. Charles attended Northeastern University, where he majored in English and journalism, and Duke University's Fuqua School of Business senior manager development program.

Krittika Raychaudhuri, Editor, DaulatGuru.com speaks to him.


Thank you Charles for speaking to DaulatGuru.com.
Could you please tell us briefly about the different services provided by Duff & Phelps?


Duff & Phelps is a leading provider of global financial advisory and investment banking services. The company specializes in areas of valuation, transaction opinions, financial restructuring, dispute resolution and taxation. As we are an independent advisory company, we don’t perform audits. In some cases, audit companies are not allowed to participate, so Duff & Phelps handles those situations.

As part of our financial advisory services, we offer valuation advisory, corporate finance consulting, tax and dispute and legal management consulting services. Our investment banking services include mergers and acquisitions advisory, transaction opinions and restructuring advisory.


Does Duff & Phelps have business in India or is it thinking about investments in India?


Duff & Phelps is a global firm and we pursue opportunities wherever appropriate. We have a number of managing directors from India who are always looking for business opportunities in that country. We are also involved in transactions with Indian companies that are doing business in the United States. 


Can you please tell us more about your current job?

I am a consultant to Duff & Phelps and have served as a senior advisor since 2008. I have more than 25 years of experience leading high technology and business services companies through operational restructurings and periods of dynamic growth. Information technology due diligence is a part of my role at Duff & Phelps, considering my vast expertise in that area. I also have a fairly extensive network in the private equity space, where I look to introduce the firm, and I am involved in other business development activities as well.


Tell us a bit about your experience at Duff & Phelps. What does an average day look like?


Since I am involved in IT due diligence, business development and the education of professionals about our service offerings, networking is an important part of the daily routine. It’s critical to know the right people.  Relationships drive business. My goal is to meet 20 people per week. If I am not able to meet this quota, I call new contacts and schedule a meeting with them for the following week. I am also currently working on other projects relevant to my background in IT services and clean technology.


Duff & Phelps advisory services span myriad industries. From your experience and knowledge, which industry do you think has proved to be most resilient in this crisis?


I think the healthcare industry has shown resiliency because it affects everyone. Some biotech companies are doing pretty well, and improvement in information technology will have a great impact on healthcare. I see significant growth opportunities in both sectors.

The clean-tech industry has also attracted a lot of investment. The clean-tech umbrella is expanding to include solar, bio-diesel, water, wind and fuel cells. When I was the president and chief executive officer of Navitas Technologies, which was involved in high-end electronic component manufacturing required for battery-powered vehicles, we called it “high-tech” manufacturing and then “green technology.” Now it’s “clean technology.”


What advice do you have for candidates with no or little work experience who may want to apply for a job at Duff & Phelps, especially in the valuation and investment banking division? What special qualities do you look for ideal candidates in these divisions?

2009 is pretty unique time. In my view, this is a year of survival and not a year of career growth. If you still want to pursue a career in finance when the economy recovers, there will be a lot of good opportunities. Thousands of employees from Lehman Brothers were fired, but it amazes me to see how many people would like to get involved in investment banking.

I have been hiring M.B.A.s for the last 20 years. If there are two well-educated M.B.A. candidates, I don’t distinguish between them based on grade point average. Instead, I ask the question, “What can you do for me?” The candidate should be able to sell and present himself/herself well. I look at attitude, presentation skills and international exposure. I look for people who are smarter than me and can complement my skills.
Some certifications are well recognized by the industry, but I don’t think alphabet soup after your name really matters. When I interview a candidate, I focus more on their managerial and interpersonal skills.


Where are the opportunities and what types of career paths in the finance industry are showing promise?

The global recession has affected most of the financial services industry. However, our dispute resolution services are doing well and that business is up over last year. There are still changes yet to come in the industry that imply more contraction, which will result in more disputes. That means more business.

As I stated earlier, healthcare is growing, and we are focused in this area.  Another area in which I see future growth is what I would call “covert due diligence.” Suppose your organization wants to acquire a company in the Ukraine. How will your organization know if this Ukrainian company will be sued after the acquisition? Have there been problems, such as fraud, that involve any of its executives? If so, how will you know? Basically, we are trying to ensure that there is no trouble post-acquisition and that the brand of the acquiring company is not tarnished.

What advice would you offer to someone with several years of industry experience who is currently trying to navigate the tumultuous job market?

Again, I think its differentiation. The key is to sell your experience and stand out from the crowd. I believe only the strong survive. There will be many opportunities after the turnaround, and just surviving this downturn will be critical.


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