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Pekarsky & Co. November 2016 Newsletter – Election Edition

November 2, 2016

Dear Friends and Colleagues,


When a search firm is hired, their mandate, ultimately, is to engineer on behalf of their client a competition among several superbly qualified candidates, each of whom could do the job roughly as well as the other. Bringing candidates forward who simply meet the requirements of the position specification is table stakes. The value-add is to exceed those requirements and then demonstrate a cultural and philosophical fit with the organization that is simply beyond what any other candidate could offer. In fact, a shortlist of five or six candidates should, if the search firm is doing its job properly, result in the client declaring at the conclusion of the first round of interviews, “We could hire any one of these people.” Around here, those are the magic words and what we strive for on every search.


Not only does this result in a happy client but it also provides the client with an insurance policy in the event the first choice candidate can’t be closed. If the second choice candidate is really “1AA” and not “B” the client can move on with ease from “1A”. The only casualty of this process, of course, is candidate 1AAA, 1AAAA and so on. This is where most search firms fail and we, I don’t believe, do. The topic of treating every candidate with respect and transparency knowing full well only one will get the job is the hard part of our job but a post for another day.


Not only does a well run process lead to a happy client and a good fit but, most importantly, the decision making team involved in the hire usually remains united around the ultimate victor. It’s a strange dilemma we face in our world when a search committee is evenly divided over the final two candidates. In one sense, it’s a good problem to have; it means that two candidates excelled through the process when we were only actually hired to find one. But it can also create a real problem if the divide is too great. If half the search committee hiring the CEO preferred the other candidate, even though both could do the job, the potential for problems is significant, and results in one of three outcomes: 1. Hire one and alienate half the voters; 2. Allow 1AAA to come up the middle (The “Ed Stelmach”), as the compromise candidate; 3. Re-do the entire search.


Which brings us to the events upcoming on planet earth on November 8. For, had we been hired to find the next CEO of the United States of America and had the selection committee settled on the two finalist candidates we have before us as the very best available options, I dare say we’d be fired. Without getting political (I’m very shy that way) one can’t really argue with the resume of Hillary Clinton in terms of meeting the spec required for the office of President of the United States. Yet, to quote Trevor Noah of the Daily Show, “luckily, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are running against the only person who they could possibly beat.”


So much has been written about Trump that we won’t go there. After last month’s 2100 word tomb, I vowed to keep this one under 1000. Suffice to say I couldn’t have said it any better than David Brooks from the New York Times. Happily, our searches at Pekarsky & Co. are usually far less divisive and, happier still, we’ve never had a second place candidate fail to accept the results of a search. Hopefully that streak remains in tact in the busy weeks ahead.


Currently, we are working with a fascinating private Alberta company, backed by an incredible global Board of Directors and sophisticated European shareholders who hired us to find them a top-notch oil-patch CEO to lead, grow and build the organization.


We are also looking for a CEO of the HRIA (Human Resource Institute of Alberta), the industry association that leads the very HR professionals with whom we have the pleasure of interacting every day. Our selection as the go to search firm of the HR industry association is at once humbling and gratifying.


We are searching for an Executive Director for the Gordie Howe Centre for Dementia Care, a hugely important cause to our firm, having raised nearly $400,000 for Alzheimer’s over our six years of playing in the Gordie Howe Pro-Am hockey tournament, something we are proud to be doing for a 7th year as a Gold Level sponsor (click here to donate what you can), and to our broader community.


We are searching for a CEO for Total Credit Recovery Limited, Canada’s largest debt collection agency headquartered in Toronto with a national network of offices and over 540 personnel.


We are searching for a VP, Sales for Tourism Calgary; a great role for anyone passionate about the City of Calgary, about sport, culture and major events.


In Edmonton we continue to search for a CEO for CKUA Radio, gearing up to celebrate 90 years of broadcasting in 2017; a CEO for the College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, responsible for regulating more than 36,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Alberta; and just last week closed the CEO search for Triathlon Canada.


It would appear after seven years of trying, we have finally gotten out from underneath our happy problem of being known predominantly as a legal search firm and truly broadened our offering across virtually all functional and industry classes, though have several legal searches on the books, too.


Happily, we don’t do US Presidential searches. We’ll leave that one to the 300 million person search committee to the south. All I know is they don’t get a re-do and The Ed Stelmach isn’t an option. As Churchill said, “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”


Happy November. 991 words.