Midnight Journal Entry

5149 words 21 pages
The Midnight Journal Entry

Anne T. Lawrence, San José State University

On an overcast afternoon in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, March 28, 2003, Richard Okumoto intently studied a set of hard-copy accounting documents called “adjusting journal entries” spread out on his desk. He had been appointed chief financial officer (CFO) of Electro Scientific Industries, Inc. (ESI), a multi-million dollar equipment manufacturer, just a few weeks earlier. Okumoto was in the midst of closing the company’s books for the third quarter of fiscal year 2003, which ended February 28. An experienced executive who had served as CFO for several other technology firms, Okumoto was familiar with the task, which normally would be routine. But this time, he
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He soon embarked on a highly successful career in finance. Over the next two-and-a-half decades, he held increasingly responsible roles at a number of high-technology companies in the Silicon Valley, including Fairchild Semiconductor, Novellus Systems, Measurex, Credence Systems, and Photon Dynamics. Okumoto admired a number of managers he had worked for, who had set high professional and ethical standards for him and his co-workers. He felt fortunate to have had three exceptional mentors: Woody Spedden, the CEO of Credence Systems; Jim Hefferman, his boss at Fairchild and later at Measurex; and Don Waite, the CFO at Measurex who later took over that position at Seagate Technologies. “All three individuals upheld the highest integrity,” Okumoto recalled. “Aside from the technical training I received from them, I got a strong ethical grounding. They would always tell me to ask myself—what are your obligations to others?”

ELECTRO SCIENTIFIC INDUSTRIES, INC. Electro Scientific Industries, Inc. (ESI), the company that Okumoto joined as CFO in early 2003, was the second-largest technology company in Oregon, trailing only Tektronix in size. Based in Portland, the company was founded in 1944 as Brown Engineering to make test and measurement equipment. As technology evolved, so did the company’s products. In the 1960s, the firm—by then called ESI—moved into lasers, and later developed applications of laser


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