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John Ferguson, President and CEO
Yes, other people's mistakes can be a source of profit. John Ferguson knows this. He's the CEO of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the world's largest builder and operator of privately run prisons. Ferguson's main role is to keep the company's shareholders happy. He's been doing a pretty good job. When the former state treasurer of Tennessee took the company helm in August 2000, CCA had a billion-dollar debt. Shareholders were hopping mad. Today CCA is back in the black. Ferguson saved the day.

How did he do it? By restructuring the company, introducing new management and selling assets. CCA claims to build and manage prisons more cheaply than state governments. That's enticing to many ambitious state politicians looking to trim their budgets. They hire CCA. Ferguson, who got his business start as an IBM salesman and then prospered in the banking industry, keeps his eyes closely on the bottom line.

But how will he like donning a prison guard's uniform for the first time ever and doing a week's work at one of his institutions? The other guards, and even the inmates, can't wait to find out.

Next: Looking for Ways to Cut Costs >>>

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