Claude Draillard, CFO of Dassault Falcon Jet, took this role as the effects of the global financial crisis were being fully felt. With the market plummeting, a wave of contract cancellations hit the Company.
As the Company’s cash position became challenging, Draillard was convinced, and had to persuade the other executives, that the organization needed to downsize quickly and significantly, letting go of about one third of the employees at the Company’s completion center in Little Rock, AR, where the aircraft are customized.
As CFO during this crisis, Draillard says his priorities were: (1) Adjust the structure of the Company to the new (much lower) workload, (2) Protect cash, and (3) Keep investing in research and development to position the brand ahead of the competition and be prepared for the eventual recovery.
“Partnering with HR to explain that downsizing could be done while preserving the honor and integrity of the people (both those leaving and those remaining), and providing data showing that our capacity to invest in future products wasn’t threatened were key.”
He describes his partnership with HR as “fascinating and frustrating at the same time.” It is fascinating when the two parts of the Company work closely together and move in the same direction on similar goals, as they were able to do during Dassault’s downsizing. However, it can be frustrating when HR is resistant to change or organizational shifts that might benefit the Company, but instead create disruptions across other departments.
“We worked on everything together,” says Draillard. The result was a more stable company that was ready to come roaring back once the economic conditions improved, and today Dassault Falcon Jet, likes its aircraft, performs exceptionally well.