Usually parents pull strings to help their children land jobs.
But in the case of Daniel Messina, former president and CEO of Magellan Health Services, he used a contact he made through his son to become the COO of Rendina Cos., a privately held medical real estate company based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
In 1998, Messina's son, Michael, was a student at Notre Dame and he bunked with Richard Rendina, son of Bruce Rendina, the company's chairman and CEO. The sons became friends and so did the fathers.
"All this time he was saying, `Come on down and work with me,' " Daniel Messina says of ongoing discussions he had with Bruce Rendina about working for the company.
The two came up with an offer when Messina was vacationing and having dinner with Bruce Rendina. He officially took the position in May, to fill a void left by Patrick DiSalvo, who started a real estate investment trust and left Rendina. Also, Richard Rendina and Michael Messina started working with Rendina in July.
Daniel Messina, 48, had mostly worked with larger healthcare organizations. Besides Magellan, he worked as the CFO of Aetna and vice president of financial reporting and planning at Cigna Corp.
That broad background is one reason Bruce Rendina thought Daniel Messina could help expand the company, which has worked on about 90 medical building projects in 15 states. "His background and experience have already benefited the operational performance of Rendina Cos. and his contacts have led to additional development opportunities," Bruce Rendina wrote in an e-mail response.
Before starting with Rendina, Messina says he thought, "How will I feel going to a company with a smaller bottom line? But it's been a wonderful experience." He adds, "I've had a taste of being at the very high levels and when things are going bad the pressure is immense."
One of those pressure-filled situations occurred at Magellan, the nation's largest behavioral health managed-care company, which was in the midst of a bankruptcy filing and facing nearly $1 billion in debt.
Dealing with bankruptcy wasn't his forte, Messina says. "You bring in the experts."