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March 2014 Mid – Month Newsletter

March 17, 2014

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I recall, in another movie, a performance review I was giving to a young Associate at my then law firm.   As I was questioning his relatively low hours, he retorted “I’m just a burger flipper” and went on to explain that his job was not to procure the meat at the best price or decide which location to open at or what amount of rent to pay or how to brand and market the product.   No, his job was to be given an apron, a spatula and a box of burgers and then proceed to flip as many as possible, as well as possible for as long as possible each and every day.   The cartoon above reminded me of that conversation.   Turns out he was right.

By now you’re familiar with the drill.   This being our mid-month edition, we go easy on the self-promotion and heavy on the content.   Attached are a few articles of interest as well as this month’s feature Pekarsky Stein contributor, Terry Stein.  Whether it’s Terry’s Spring theme, the Macleans article about our brutal Canadian winter or any of the other pieces we’ve unearthed, we hope you enjoy.     As you read this, our entire firm along with spouses and children, is enjoying a rare day off at the first ever Pekarsky Stein ski trip in Fernie.   Note I have not called it the first annual.   We’ll make that determination on Monday morning.

Finally, a big thank you to the 4 of you who donated generously to our firm’s fundraising efforts for the upcoming Alzheimer’s Pro-Am hockey tournament.   That leaves only 7,991 of you to click here and donate whatever you can by clicking the “sponsor me” box in the top left corner of the page that opens up.   You know, the one that opens up by clicking here.   Or here.  Even $10 from each of you and the Pekarsky Stein Pro Bonos will once again be assured a top 3 spot among the 24 teams enrolled at the event and easily eclipse our goal of raising over a quarter of a million dollars for Alzheimer’s research in the past four years.   With my personal odometer turning one year older on Sunday, I consider our firm’s $5,000 donation enlightened self interest.

Photos of Fernie trip to be included in our April edition.   Or not.

Regards,

Adam

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR NEXT MOVE?

Spring is in the air with the warm weather and sunshine pulling us out of the dark and dreary doldrums of winter with a refreshed and positive outlook.  Spring-cleaning can take on many forms, beyond the proverbial garage clean or car wash.  It can also mean hope springs eternal, last year’s bonus has been cashed so now’s the time to consider a career change.  Having spent the last 15 years immersed in the recruitment of finance professionals, here are a few Spring thoughts that sprung to mind.

One of the most common questions we hear from executives and other professionals with whom we speak every day is, “I’m ready for my next move…what’s out there that fits my skills?”  As you contemplate whether to include your old mountain bike in your upcoming garage sale, ask yourself whether it’s a new job you seek or if there isn’t more to be done within your current role.

At Pekarsky Stein, we play the role of coach, counselor, motivator, psychologist, trusted advisor and sometimes just a person to vent to.  Many of the strong client relationships we enjoy today started out with assisting individuals during the early stage of the their careers.   Often times the most meaningful advice we give people is to stay put and give their current employer a fair shake.

Among all the many changes I’ve seen during my many years in search—from the post 9/11 environment to the boom of 2005-07 to the downturn of 2008-9—perhaps the most dizzying part of this roller coaster ride has been the rapid technological advancements which have impacted the way we think, communicate and manage expectations.  Our attention span has become shorter as we look for immediate fulfillment, gratification and monetary rewards on a faster-than real time basis.  This is having a profound effect on our expectations and job satisfaction on a daily basis.  Consistently, we hear “I am no longer challenged”, “the runway is too short in my current role/organization”,  “I have to get to the next level”, or “the payout is too far down the road for me to stay”.

Keep in mind that new challenges can be, well, challenging and sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.   Being the new kid is tough and it’s easy to underestimate the brand equity and goodwill you’ve built up in your current organization. Paraphrasing the famous quote made by John F. Kennedy “ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country” you may identify a host of opportunities to consider within your current organization over which you have greater control and ability to shape and manage.

It was said that during the boom period of 2005 to 2007 that the shortage of white-collar labour caused many individuals to be promoted one or two levels above their true ability level in terms of their skill level and professional development.

As a professional, you have to have the self-awareness to objectively assess the skills you have developed and mastered through your experience to date.  It is critical that you take the necessary action to ensure you are maintaining and building your repertoire of skills, while simultaneously exploring opportunities right under your nose.  One may look at this as an oversimplification in terms of advice however let’s take this concept down a couple of levels.

Let’s use the example of you being promoted to a Controller within an organization a couple of years ago and feel that you successfully executed on this role.  On the surface, your accountability has been focused on ensuring the books are balanced and you have successfully fulfilled your obligation in your role.  In addition, the company has favored well through a steady and growing economy therefore everyone is happy.  You now feel that your next move has to happen to ensure that your upward mobility stays on track.

From a skills inventory perspective, I would challenge you to assess whether you have demonstrated experience and abilities in all aspects of Accounting & Finance; Business knowledge required to understand the key performance indicators and drivers; Strategy and governance exposure; Human Resource knowledge including effective Performance Management and team development and Information Technology/Change Management.

You could look at the above skills inventory and determine whether you advanced and addressed the necessary skills during your term in the role or whether you merely went through the motions.  In other words, just because an oil company makes money on $100 oil doesn’t mean it’s a well-run company.

In addition you could also assess actions taken within your span of control to further your marketability including special projects within your organization, professional development activities or volunteer opportunities (i.e. Not-for-Profit Board) which enhance your skills.

As search professionals, it is our job to objectively assess your skills inventory to determine whether you are equipped for that next role.  In addition to assessing the softer skills such as fit and cultural alignment, our clients’ number one expectation of us is to thoroughly and objectively qualify a candidate’s true skills for the role they seek.

I recently observed a Chris Hadfield interview speaking to the success he has achieved over the course of his life including the pinnacle moment of traveling into space.  One of the key messages which came through loud and clear was that at every stage of his career, he focused on the key attributes to master in each of his roles which further positioned him for his next moves, each one building on the other.

While career change isn’t exactly rocket science, Mr. Hadfield’s example is one we could all follow as we assess our progress and readiness for the next challenge.

Terry Stein has been a Partner of Pekarsky Stein since 2010.  He is a Certified Management Accountant, a Canadian Human Resource Professional and was awarded the Fellow of The Society of Management Accountants designation in 2006. He has actively served on the Provincial Board of CMA Alberta, CMA Canada Competency Development Committee and the CMA Alberta Devolution Task Force. He is an active member of both the Society of Management Accountants of Alberta and the Human Resources Institute of Alberta. Since 2009, Terry has been a member of the Mount Royal University Accounting Advisory Committee and serves on the Board of Hospice Calgary.

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