Back in the late 1990s, I worked for a magazine that covered corporate finance and the emerging role of the chief financial officer in U.S. corporations. It was at about that time that companies started looking at their CFOs in a new way. Traditionally, CFOs were, for the most part, the guys who made sure everyone played by the rules and ensured that their companies were being straight with their shareholders. Suddenly, they were being encouraged to behave, think and act as more creative, pro-active contributors to company performance.

It was this new focus on the corporate performance-enhancing role of the CFO that brought us Enron CFO Andy Fastow, WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan, Tyco International's Mark Swartz, and Rite-Aid's Frank Bergonzi, among many others. They were, to a man, eager to please their bosses and were highly creative and pro-active—albeit illegal—contributors to their company's performance. Shortly after this deluge of malfeasance, the role of the CFO, assisted by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, was ushered back to its traditional, not-so-creative function where it has, very rightly, remained (again, for the most part).

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