No doubt some career counselors would say Kevin Clark, 49,made a good move in 1994, when he left his first job workingin the finance department of Chrysler to take a treasury post atauto supplier Federal Mogul, eventually moving on to become CFO atFisher Scientific and then a founding partner at a private equityfirm, Liberty Lane Partners.

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But Clark, who's now back in the auto industry as CFO of Troy,Mich.-based Delphi, says his experience at Chrysler was a terrificintroduction to finance and his current Rust Belt industry post isan exciting challenge.

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“Like a lot of folks growing up in Michigan, I was surrounded bythe auto industry,” Clark says. “When I finished B-School, Chryslerhad gone through a government rescue and was on the upswing. It wasa great opportunity. They were interested in getting kids with afinance background, and identified people they thought were highpotential and cycled us through different parts of theorganization.”

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The stint at Chrysler was valuable experience that preparedClark for his later roles, including his current position with a major auto partssupplier. “When I left Chrysler, I never imagined finding myselfback in the industry, but this was something I couldn't pass up,”he says.

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When Clark signed on as Delphi's CFO in 2010, the company, with$14 billion in sales, had just left bankruptcy, and was preparingfor an IPO, which it registered in May of this year.

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“My challenges coming into the job were obvious,” he says. “Forexample, I saw a need for increased visibility and financial rigoraround the allocation of capital and related rates of return byexisting and future product lines. We knew which businesses werecontributing and which were not, but not as well as we couldknow.”

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Then there was the planned IPO. “That called for simplifying thecapital structure and repurchasing shares,” Clark notes. “We hadthree classes of stock. We used cash, bank and high-yield debtto repurchase the A and C shares, making the IPO easier.”

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Clark has moved Delphi from a $3 billion cash position when hejoined in 2010 to $1.5 billion in cash and $2.5 billion in debt onthe balance sheet currently.

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Once the company emerged from bankruptcy, it began issuingquarterly reports to shareholders, as if it were public, inanticipation of the coming IPO. Clark says he worked to enhancethat reporting, “to get us into the groove” of being a publiccompany, an effort where his experience as CFO of publicly tradedFisher Scientific came into play.

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Looking forward, Clark says he's focusing on helping Delphiexpand through internal growth and strategic acquisitions andestablishing a cost structure that allows the company, whosefortunes are closely linked to the performance of the autoindustry, to “maintain a strong cash flow position andprofitability in all parts of the auto cycle.”

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Currently, Delphi sells only about 10% of its products outsidethe automobile industry. While the company will continue to be tiedprimarily to the auto industry, Clark says one goal of theacquisition campaign is to expand into the commercial vehicle spaceand other transportation areas.

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