I think it’s pretty clear that Japan is in for a turbulent second quarter (Apr-Jun) this year, and many companies are going to be in trouble. The buy-out funds, ever on the prowl for distressed asset opportunities, know this and are getting ready to wade in. All this chaos is going to create a new class of manager: someone who acts like an entrepreneur, but works for a corporation.

Most of the restructuring we’ve seen so far has been measured and infrequent; the kind that gives the active investors time to put together high-powered teams of people they already know can get the job done. Unless you’re hooked in, there has been little chance for an outsider to get in on one of these teams. From May onwards, however, the volume of foreign investment into ailing firms will really start to pick up, and the opportunities for newcomers to lend a hand at fixing a broken company will increase. It’s not a job for everyone, but if you’re a modern day adventurer, the challenge is certainly there.

When a company gets restructured, there are basically two ways to go about it. First, you can take a “fine-tuning” approach that essentially stays with the current (some senior and some middle) management and operations, and continues the existing corporate values and performance. This is an obvious and well-tested approach for taking over a healthy business.

But we’re talking about restructuring desperate companies, and here the only real solution is to “gut and rebuild.” In this approach, which is very tough on the people involved (on both sides of the table), the idea is to replace pretty much all the senior management, along with any key operations people that might undermine the company’s new direction. My opinion is that pretty much all distressed asset purchases in the next year or so will need this rather radical surgery.

The opportunities are at all levels, but obviously there are some areas that will be in constant demand. These are: CEOs experienced in the same field as the acquired company, COOs, CIOs, CFOs, business analysts, HR restructuring specialists, marketing specialists, and manufacturing and operations specialists. Here at DaiJob.com, we are building up a register of people with these skills who are likely to be working in a secure job at the moment, but who are also interested in moving to something more challenging. The business fields that are going to move quickest will be: leasing, insurance, real estate, hotels, publishing, high-tech manufacturing, speciality retailing, and adult education. Ifyou’re in one of these fields, and you want to help Japan in her time of need, please contact me for registration at DaiJob.com: terrie.lloyd@daijob.com.