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Pekarsky & Co. January 2016 Newsletter – We’re Number 50!

January 13, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy New Year!  What a start to 2016 we’ve had over here on the good ship Pekarsky & Co.! The year was barely a day old when our very own Sinead O’Connor welcomed Jude William O’Connor into the world. Hey, Jude.

A few days after Jude’s arrival, Alberta Venture released its list of Alberta’s Fast Growth 50, the fastest growing companies in Alberta last year. Some might suggest that making the list in 2015 simply meant we were one of the 50 slowest shrinking companies.  However, seeing as we came in 50th place that means we were actually the slowest of the slowest shrinking which actually makes us the fastest growing. See? (It’s also this logic that allows me to think my pre-maturely greying hair somehow makes me look younger.  But I digress.).  Though these recognitions and lists are not perfect, just as this one suggests our head office is Edmonton, which isn’t the case in a head office-less firm, truth is, I am fine allowing ourselves a moment of self-reflection at this achievement; one which could not have been imaginable a mere six and a half years ago as I sat in my basement fighting with my printer as it continuously spat out inverted invitations to our Pekarsky Group launch party on September 3rd 2009.

At that time, we had no staff, no space, no clients, no clue and one account payable to the Apple Store for the firm’s only computer. Now in our seventh year, having successfully executed hundreds of searches across virtually every industry sector for clients large and small, national and local, private and public this recognition is validation that our team is onto something; that search remains relevant; that companies are hiring; that there is a different and better way to do what we do and to partner with our clients, our candidates and our community.

Way back in 2009, an economic downturn ago, LinkedIn was barely a thing and I recall reading the predictions about the recruitment industry’s demise on account of the global database’s immanency and purported eminency. Thing is, there is often a significant delta between the best candidate who applies for a job or who can be found on-line and the best candidate, period. Our growth is proof positive that there are some things in this world that we humans do that technology will never be able to do better. Sometimes the bank teller beats the ATM, the travel agent outsmarts Expedia. And if you’ve ever got down on one knee and popped the question to Siri or even just asked her to reel off a good joke, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

The reality is, efficiency of process and ease of access are no substitute for human empathy, creativity and problem solving, three qualities that are absolutely critical in this business of professional matchmaking. Unrelenting doggedness and constant do-goodedness are what we’re all about and making the Fast 50 list, barely though we did, is a screaming endorsement for the warmth of the human touch in a cold digital age. Call me old fashioned but the Interweb doesn’t send flowers to every placed candidate or a Starbucks card to every person who does us a good turn or stop for a personal chat in the Pedways and Plus 15s of Edmonton and Calgary. It doesn’t support countless worthy causes and charities and it doesn’t celebrate success with clients quite like we humans do. And our brand of humans here at Pekarsky & Co., from those who birthed this baby all those years ago to our newest extended family member, all of ten days old, is the big differentiator not only between us and the web but, frankly, our competitors, too. Recently, we received this testimonial from a placed candidate, turned client:

“As an executive who has interacted with dozens of national and global recruiting agents and firms over the years, Pekarsky & Co. is simply the most respectful, collaborative and ultimately effective recruiting firm you will find. From a candidate perspective, I felt that I was truly understood and respected and from a client perspective, we are totally satisfied with the proactive approach to finding long-term, culturally-aligned candidates. Pekarsky & Co. re-humanizes recruiters.”

In fact, this human touch thing seems to be coming back in a very big way. I read a lot over the holidays and one article that caught my eye was this one about the booming butler business and a leading training program at Azuridge hotel in Priddis, south of Calgary. It spoke of the British Butlers Guild and the necessity for having superior human skills, a great poker face, exceptional tact, a keen sense of observation, discretion, the flexibility to adapt to the needs of your principal and, above all, a desire to offer excellent service as the true motivator. I’ve long viewed the role of a search professional as similar to that of a butler; afforded a privileged and trusted insight into the innermost workings of the corporate home without, quite, having a seat at the table. The Fast 50  recognition by Alberta Venture is a testament not only to our ongoing commitment to our principles (and our principals) but also theirs to us, and that is truly something we value.

And I read this one, too, which spoke of the Maker Movement, a cultural trend that places value on an individual’s ability to be a creator of things as well as a consumer of things. And maybe that’s why, to quote the article, the Maker Movement says “more about consumers than about sellers. People are getting tired of the same old big-box retail products…young adults in particular are attracted by the life stories of the sellers whose products they buy.” Presumably with Amazon in mind, it concludes “this could not be more different than mass-produced items delivered to you by drone.’”

Certainly it’s why we didn’t use drones but rather elves, in the form of the entire team at Pekarsky & Co. to procure, wrap and deliver a van full of holiday presents to a family in need over the holidays. And maybe that’s why we slave lovingly over making these newsletters. And maybe that’s why we’re growing.

As if a new baby and the Fast 50 recognition weren’t enough, we have also just hired James Sweetman to join our firm as an Associate. Often mistaken for Andy Bailey, the “Manny” of Joe Pritchett in Modern Family, James is, in fact, a graduate of the renowned officer training program at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, widely regarded as one of the most challenging and prestigious leadership development courses in the world. Make a Manny joke around James and he’ll kill you with his pinkie. If he can handle Sandhurst, I expect he can handle us. Prior to joining Pekarsky & Co. James spent time at Liz Smith & Associates, Calgary’s long-time leading support staff agency. Under James’s leadership, we are excited to enter the support and administrative staff recruitment arena. Frankly, our clients have been asking us to do this for years so we expect James to hit the ground march – er, running – and couldn’t be more excited about having to stop referring this work elsewhere.  Our first order of business was to step up as a Gold Level business partner to the Calgary Association of Legal Administrators, a relationship we look forward to growing in other markets.

And, speaking of other markets, finally, in March we will be opening an office in Toronto under the leadership of our own Jessica Young who will be expanding the Pekarsky & Co. brand to Toronto, Ottawa and Montréal. Truth is, along with Vancouver, we’ve long served these markets from our base in Alberta, and it is simply time that we had one of our own on the ground out east. Jessica, in addition to being one of our longer tenured employees, and a veritable Swiss army knife of search, is also fluently bilingual, knows and understands our process, our systems, our values and our clients. She has lived in both Toronto and Montréal so her move is going to help us continue bringing the best possible talent and advice to our clients near and far. Watch this space for Jessica’s soon-to-be-published dispatch about her journey eastward.

Notwithstanding all this excitement and happy news, I predict the first 12 months of 2016 will be quite challenging. However, this is exactly the type of market in which lean, well-run boutique firms such as ours can thrive, grow and continue to serve our clients in a way that makes sense for them. I think we Albertans fell into the unusual and unattractive habit in 2015 of feeling sorry for ourselves. Hard to blame us, really, given the daily assault of negative news and propensity of our elected officials to stick their head in the (oil)sand. Albertans, however, are resilient, innovative, natural leaders and our humble enterprise plans on hitting 2016 with some old school optimism, in spite of and not because of, anything around us. We hope you’ll join us.

In parting, some words of wisdom for our newest member and for all our loyal readers as we head into 2016:

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

With Very Warm Regards,

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