Tim Saunders seems like the kind of leader you’d follow into battle. He thrives in high-pressure situations, remains cool under pressure, and truly values his troops’ expertise. Saunders also commits to taking on new—and seemingly overwhelming—challenges, like the one that greeted him in his first finance executive role following his time in public accounting.
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During his first week on that job, Saunders discovered that his telecommunications company had lost $25 million the previous year, received news that the New York Stock Exchange was threatening delisting, and received a letter that had been languishing on his CEO’s desk for days. The note, from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, contained more than three dozen comments requiring prompt remediation. “Dealing with 44 SEC comments is a good way to learn about the company during your first week on the job,” Saunders deadpans. But he’s not entirely kidding. That unflappable demeanor has served Saunders well while pursuing a varied procession of daunting challenges in a diverse blend of industries, including telecom, semiconductors, clean-tech, private equity, and, now, the burgeoning cannabis industry.