Every day this week has begun with relatively cool, crystal clear, sunny skies in my town—very much the same weather I experienced some 11 years ago as I raced down the concourse to catch a plane for an early morning flight from Richmond to Pittsburgh. Little did I understand the magnitude of what was unfolding as I glanced at a television monitor and saw a plane crashing into a building. After boarding, we all sat there for an unusual amount of time wondering what was going on. Then the captain announced the basic facts as he knew them at the time and instructed all of us to disembark the plane and return home. What a surreal experience. What a tragedy. What a wake-up call. In the blink of an eye, we were all reminded of the fragility of this life. We as a nation took a stand with passion to avenge the attack and heighten our security systems to help prevent a repeat of such an event. And as we mourned for those who died on that day, many of us reflected on the value of life and life choices. With absolutely no intent to diminish the relative importance of the above, let me share with you how I believe these same words—passion, fragility, value—can be applied to investment recovery. Passion for investment recovery as a profession is obvious as we gather to share experience and education at our Investment Recovery Association conferences. The Association is run by volunteers—you and me— because we believe in our profession and have a passion for wanting to share it with others. Last month, your Board of Directors was in Chicago for two days working on Association business. One full day was spent working with two professional psychometricians developing a new series of questions for the CMIR certification exam. And in preparation for this question-writing session, we were each tasked with writing and submitting 20 draft questions prior to the meeting. Trust me when I say, “Not as easy as it sounds.” This issue of Asset 2.0 has a great article titled “Showing Value: Are Your Supply Chain Savings Viewed with Skepticism?” The value of investment recovery and the fragility of the function in my mind can easily be tied together. First, the value. We know how our function impacts the bottom line of our company. We generate a lot of cash revenue from not only the sale of surplus assets, but also from the many scrap contracts we administer. And we can measure our success against the benchmark data that the Association provides. But as good as we would like to think we are, there is still a persistent “fragility” factor to deal with. You know the line…“I know what you did for me yesterday, but what about today?” I believe my company has had an excellent investment recovery program. But over the course of my 25-year tenure, I’ve seen my group centralized / decentralized / re-centralized / downsized / renamed / restructured. Every day the investment recovery professionals must find ways to show the companies the continued benefits of their IR efforts. As good as we are, as good as our programs are, there is an underlying tension between the obvious (to us) value of our function and the fragility of our program’s future without the appropriate reinforcement of our value-add to the corporation. I believe the silver lining is this: We are in a profession that tends to evoke a passion in those who care to stay with it very long. Just look around at your fellow IR professionals and think about how long most of them have been doing investment recovery. Is it because we can’t find another job? No. I think it is because we share a profession that is exciting, challenging, and fun! Michael W. Rhodes, CMIR Fellow, Dominion Resources Services President, Investment Recovery Association Michael.Rhodes@Dom.com