Sandy Sigoloff, California's Schoolmarm

Financier Sanford C. Sigoloff has a decidedly mixed record. He has resurrected such troubled companies as Daylin, Wickes, and Republic, but failed to save others, such as retailers B. Altman and Bonwit Teller. Soon, Sigoloff may be facing his biggest turnaround challenge yet: streamlining California's $27 billion education bureaucracy.

Governor Pete Wilson nominated Sigoloff, 63, as the state's superintendent of public instruction--making him the latest in a string of business executives recruited by beleaguered school systems. Questions remain about whether he will be confirmed when the legislature reconvenes in January. If he wins the job, Sigoloff has vowed not to run for reelection in next summer's primary. That gives him 11 months in office.

Nevertheless, California's business Establishment is nearly united in its support for Sigoloff, who promises to make a difference. "Sure, I come in as a lame duck with not a lot of time," he says. "But I did my due diligence. In a troubled business, you don't have a lot of time to understand the parameters, prioritize them, and set up a master calendar of events to accomplish."