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May 2014 Newsletter – More Matter for a May Morning

May 1, 2014



Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Despite this being my 13th year recruiting, I have yet to figure out any predictable pattern to the seasonality of this business. There are, of course, certain truths: summer is Quiet Season, fall is Hedging Season (“I might be calling you in the new year…depends how things go”), spring typically sees a hiring scramble as corporate clients assess their needs with a view to starting the search process before Quiet Season, and on it goes.  And law firms, rarely accused of embracing an overly strategic approach to succession planning and talent management, hire with the predictability and foresight of a new driver.  But the trends tend to be more micro than macro—turmoil in Ukraine impacting our client’s decision to hire a controller far less than Susan in Accounting having a baby. Sure, the larger more “global” trends trickle down to our bottom line too; the months following last June’s floods were slow and the months following the economic crisis of late 2008 were really slow. Heck, I started my career as a commissioned recruiter on September 11, 2001, so I’ve seen lots of big events impact my little desk. But when taken in its totality and looked at through a 13-year-lens, I can’t tell you with any certainty what this May will look like anymore than I could have predicted the outlook for that first May over a decade ago. That may say more about me and my business acumen than it does about the cyclical nature of the recruitment business, but I don’t think so. It’s lumpy, it’s unpredictable and in a boutique firm such as Pekarsky Stein where our team of nine runs lean and fast executing on the same number of searches in a year as firms twice our size, when the pace slows down or picks up, even a little bit, we feel it a lot.

So, imagine our surprise and delight when in the midst of a steady, if unspectacular, couple of quarters, like a blast of cold air to the face in May in Calgary, we get retained on no fewer than a dozen new searches in the span of a single week.   I’ve learned to not question why things go awry or to panic when things slow down (my team may disagree), but instead I’ve gotten on by being philosophical, drinking Scotch and reverting to basics: do the right thing and trust it will come.  By the same token, I’m inclined not to overanalyze this latest and unprecedented spike. No fewer than 11 in-house legal counsel searches currently sit on our books.  Add to those our hunt for a Vice President of Human Resources for a global methanol company based in Vancouver, an Executive Director for a not-for-profit think tank in Edmonton, a Vice President Pricing and Yield Management for a large service company, and even more coming down the pipe. From looking for the next General Counsel of a leading Saskatchewan company to a high profile role with the University of Calgary, on the list goes for Pekarsky Stein in this late spring upswing.  Even though I tend to curse my bad luck when I snap-hook a tee shot into the woods and it doesn’t bounce back into the centre of the fairway, and I ignore my good fortune when it does (“good things happen to good people,” I usually tell my playing companions), I can’t help but wonder if others are experiencing the same thing? It certainly feels like there’s a buzz and an optimism circulating that haven’t been present for some time, but that feeling is more anecdotal than empirical and may disappear as quickly as it arrived.


Though stretched and busy, we haven’t taken our eye off the thing we take near as much pride in as the search work we perform: community involvement.  In April, we successfully competed in the Fourth Annual Alzheimer’s Hockey Pro-Am where the Pekarsky Stein Pro Bonos drafted former Flame and Leaf, Jamie Macoun, who proved to be as good a teammate as a storyteller.  More importantly, we raised another $45,000 in support of Alzheimer’s research bringing the total amount of funds raised by the Pro Bonos to over $250,000 in the last four years.  Thank you for your support.   Lisa Luedtke, who sits on the Board of Directors of Calgary Legal Guidance, and I also attended the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association awards Dinner Gala where CLG received much needed funding as a CCCA charity of choice.  The evening of April 23rd also saw the Pekarsky Stein Calgary team attending the 2014 Turning Points Gala in support of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.  Supporting this event was our small part in helping the Gala raise $675,000 – to date, the most ever raised by the event.



Add to that the arrival of soccer season—in my house that means three kids on three different teams at fields scattered across this bald and chilly prairie—and any honest parent will tell you that it’s just about too much.   U14 + U10 + U8 = U-Crazy.   But, with summer approaching, we all fall prey to Mother Nature’s slight-of-hand and convince ourselves that more sunshine translates into more hours in our day, and once again all things are possible. Making the most out of the extra daylight hours on June 7th our own Jessica Young and (again) Lisa Luedtke will be joining the Motionball Calgary team for the Marathon of Sport, a day long fundraiser in support of Special Olympics Canada..  Head over to Webber Academy on the 7th to see these two compete alongside local Special Olympics athletes in a variety of sports like basketball, volleyball, football, and yes, even soccer. For those of you who would like to help our Pekarsky Stein ladies along with their athletic and fundraising efforts please click here to support Lisa and here to help out Jess.   Don’t worry, we’re not very competitive around here so I’m sure they’re not keeping track…

So there you have it.  It’s my turn in the rotation for the mid-month original content newsletter.   Here’s a teaser:  Watch out for the undertow.

Enjoy May.







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