The auto parts business is not for the faint of heart. When Michael Widgren joined Visteon Corp. in 2005 as its assistant controller, the Van Buren Township, Mich.-based company was still struggling to make its own way after being spun off by Ford Motor Co. in 2000. Widgren helped transform the accounting and financial systems, making sure that the proper controls were applied consistently and reflected the increasingly global nature of the industry. "It was a challenging time," says Widgren, who became vice president, corporate controller and chief accounting officer a little more than a year ago. "We were in survival mode," he recalls. "It's still challenging."

After Ford agreed to assume $3 billion in liabilities in exchange for 23 Visteon facilities in 2005, the Van Buren Township, Mich.-based parts maker launched a major restructuring. Now, the $11.3-billion business sees signs of rebirth. Widgren, 40, says Visteon is committed to being free cash flow positive in 2009 and profitable in 2010. Efficient cash flow and agile liquidity management are key concerns driving the transformation, which includes a geographic reshuffle from the U.S. to Eastern Europe and Asia, especially China. "The money has to be in the right place at the right time, and the transfer must be fast," he says.

Compliance was an integral part of Widgren's first assignment and remains a key responsibility. But just like Visteon, Widgren's focus has shifted from sustainability to growth. "Since the [Sarbanes-Oxley] implementation effort is behind us we are moving more toward having control procedures embedded in our ongoing day-to-day operations," he notes.

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