Opening Doors to Opportunities
When a client needed help in a combat zone, Resources Consultants worldwide stepped up
to take on the project.
Resources had been working with Lockheed Martin Corporation for a number of years at several of its offices in the U.S. In November 2007, additional opportunities arose when Lockheed acquired California-based Pacific Architects and Engineers Incorporated (PAE).
PAE – a company that provides services supporting military readiness, peacekeeping missions, nation building activities and disaster relief – needed accounting services and reconciliation help. Consultant Marquette Arnold was engaged to work at the company’s Virginia location.
Marquette, a five-year Resources Consultant, made such a positive impression on the client that they called on Resources again when PAE needed additional help, this time for a difficult project in a very remote location – Kandahar, Afghanistan.
PAE has provided services in remote and hostile environments for more than 50 years. One employee in Kandahar maintained all of the accounting records and books for overseas operations. The goal was to reconcile each joint venture’s inter-company accounts with the PAE corporate organization – a task that had not been completed since 2005.
To further complicate the task, accounting records were in multiple currencies and maintained in an outdated general ledger system. A significant amount of effort would be required to reconcile the numerous accounts.“Hearing gunfire in the distance the first night was
a bit unnerving, but John adjusted and was
soon immersed in the project.”
Resources Regional Managing Director Suzi Stanton sent out a companywide email seeking a qualified Consultant willing to go to Afghanistan. “We thought that nobody would volunteer,” said Suzi, who was surprised when 13 Consultants from several countries responded. “We carefully sifted through the profiles to find the person with the right skill set.”
That person was John Egerer from Resources’ San Diego office. He was a CPA with a degree in accounting from California State University in Long Beach, and he had experience in a variety of industries, including electronics manufacturing, bio-med and biotech.
John joined Resources’ Finance & Accounting practice in May 2004. “It was the work-life balance that appealed to me the most,” he said. His early engagements focused on SOX and general accounting tasks, including incurred cost claims, budgeting/forecasting and restatements.
The Afghanistan project appealed to his sense of adventure. “I was interested in traveling to a place in the news and meeting people in the middle of the action,” he said.
Setting up shop in Afghanistan
Sending a Consultant into a combat zone required some advance work. “Quite a few details had to be covered, including specialized insurance and travel arrangements,” Suzi said. “Our primary consideration was ensuring John’s safety.”
Arrangements were made for John to work from Lockheed’s Dubai office before going on to KAF – a major NATO base outside Kandahar City with approximately 40,000 troops – where PAE had its office.
After completing some preliminary work in Dubai, John was flown to KAF where he set up residence in the PAE camp, a collection of modular buildings built by the company for its staff on one of the exit roads from the base. “I constantly saw convoys going out on patrol,” John said. “KAF is the center for military operations in southern Afghanistan, and I saw troops from the U.K., Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Canada, and the U.S. It would be 115 degrees [Fahrenheit] with dust blowing and these troops were dressed in heavy uniforms with helmets, body armor and all kinds of weapons strapped to their bodies.”
Life on a military base, especially in a combat zone, took some getting used to, and hearing gunfire in the distance the first night was a bit unnerving. But John adjusted and was soon immersed in the project.
For four weeks, he worked with PAE’s Business Operations Manager to close out accounting records of several joint ventures. John prepared schedules and performed a detailed analysis of each joint venture’s balance sheet, including searching for unrecorded liabilities and valuation assessments.
Meals were taken in any one of four large cafeterias operated by British, Canadian, French and U.S. forces. “All military personnel were required to carry their weapons at all times,” John said. “In the cafeterias, the proper etiquette was to place the weapon on the floor between your legs.”
Although no one was prohibited from leaving the base, it was discouraged. “We went ‘outside-the-wire’ once to inspect a PAE bulk fuel installation project,” he said. “It was rocketed and damaged a week later.”
The PAE project in Kandahar was successfully completed in July 2008. John is currently working with Lockheed on another project – this time in Arlington, Virginia. “He is a talented and dedicated Consultant, and PAE wanted to keep him,” Suzi said. “We now have four additional Consultants working with PAE in Virginia.”
Resources is hoping to work with a new group that PAE is starting up in Dubai to handle the company’s procurement operations. “It’s a cost-contained, shared services project as they centralize Africa and Middle-East operations,” Suzi said. “We have demonstrated our value, flexibility and eagerness to assist no matter what the assignment. I believe we are well-positioned to continue to grow our business partnership.”