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Pekarsky & Co Hits a Homerun – April 2014 Newsletter

April 1, 2014

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,


Remember that scene in Field of Dreams when Ray Kinsella is standing in his cornfield and he hears The Voice say “if you build it, they will come”?   Okay, the exact quote is “he will come” but that doesn’t work as well for my story.  Anyway, Ray, an Iowa corn farmer, is standing in his field when he hears this and he interprets it as an instruction to build a baseball diamond in his field and after he does Shoeless Joe Jackson and other dead baseball players emerge from the cornfields to play ball.


Well, nearly five years ago I built it and I am so pleased to announce that they have come.   Like Ray, there have been voices in my head along the way but today it gives me  great pleasure to welcome Ranju Shergill and Rick Vogel into the partnership of Pekarsky & Co.


I first met Ranju in 2008, about a year before starting the firm.  She told me she was looking to get into search after 16 years in environmental consulting.   After surmising that she must have started that career when she was about 7, the economic downturn prevented my then search firm Partners from hiring her into that firm.   Good thing that.  A year later and within a week of starting the business and launching the first Pekarsky Group website, such as it was, I routinely, rather obsessively, checked the “hits” to the site to see if anyone was actually visiting.


In that first lonely week during the bleak summer of economically ravaged 2009, I had only a handful of “unique visits” to the website; presumably my mother, my wife, my kids and, well, myself accounting for most of them.   But I did have quite a few more “hits” than “unique visits” meaning the same person was coming back many times; even more frequently than I. So, when Ranju called out of the blue to re-introduce herself and say “you probably don’t remember me” (I did) “but I’ve been on your website” (I know) “and I see you’ve started your own firm” (why, yes I have) it was my Shoeless Joe Jackson emerging from the cornfield.   Little did I know she threw high heat.  “How exactly” she started in “do you plan on doing all the things you say you can do on your site?”  (gulp).   “How about” she continued, “I send you a business plan outlining what you purport to be able to do with specific examples of what I can actually do?” (yes, ma’am).


A few days later the business plan arrived and it quickly supplanted my own.   In the nearly five years since then Ranju has done exactly what Ranju does, and that is deliver superb client service, bring steady leadership and consistent good humour to the office, display uncompromising professionalism, motherly mentorship, old school work ethic and unfailing integrity to every facet of her professional and personal life.   Oh, and she closes whatever search she’s handed.  (Ray Kinsella: “Don’t we need a catcher?”  Shoeless Joe Jackson: “Not if you get it near the plate we don’t”).  In addition to developing a reputation for handling complex senior-level searches across numerous industries and functional areas, Ranju has a penchant for 80’s music, off-colour Vegas shows and remarkable acting skills especially whilst playing Cards Against Humanity, but enough about our recent firm ski trip in Fernie.   Joking aside, the Western Canadian search community is better off today by having Ranju locked in and committed to Pekarsky & Co for the long haul.  We could not be more pleased.


Then there’s Rick Vogel.  As you will know if you read this space regularly, I have known Rick for roughly 44 years.   And that’s because I am roughly 44 years old.   His father, Barry, and my father, Dan, practiced law together several hundred years ago.   Okay, in the 1960s and 70s.   In fact, our recent firm ski trip rekindled fond memories of the long bus rides from Edmonton to Fairmont or Jasper when we were kids riding along as part of the memorable Witten Pekarsky Vogel trips, er, I mean strategic planning sessions.


Since November 1st of last year when Rick joined the firm and opened our Edmonton office, he has had an immediate impact on the firm and on the entire Edmonton executive search scene (which hadn’t seen a new market entrant in a dozen years).  He has landed numerous search mandates and, in the process, landed us on the map in the Capital Region.   In addition to the searches he’s brought to the firm, Rick has immediately integrated into our team, provided leadership from lessons learned as an owner and Principal at Davies Park, and doubled the size of the Edmonton office! (More on that below). Our confidence in Rick, and his in us, led to a shorter engagement period than envisioned and so he too joins us as an equity partner today.  Congrats, Rick.  Your name is on the lease, too!


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Leverage being the Holy Grail of any professional services firm, the players kept emerging from the cornfield in recent weeks.   On March 20th, Marie Iwanow joined our Edmonton office, bringing with her an incredibly diverse background in sectors such as government, energy, advertising, education, non-profit, finance/accounting, and legal professional services.  Prior to joining Pekarsky & Co, Marie worked in the political arena as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education with the Government of Alberta.  She has also reported directly to and advised CEOs, board members, and other elected officials in areas of expertise such as corporate branding, market research, stakeholder relations, reputation management, and policy.  Marie’s extensive involvement in such a wide range of sectors, as well as her education credentials and experience in communications and organizational change management, will greatly assist our Edmonton clients as she manages various complex search mandates for our clients large and small.


Not to be outdone, four days after Marie started in Edmonton, the Calgary office welcomed its newest Associate, Jessica Young, to the firm.  A former competitive swimmer and National Team Program Consultant and Head Coach for the Swiss Swimming Federation, Jessica possesses a tenacity and drive toward excellence that can only be learned by innumerable early morning practices.  With her athletic success, Jessica was able to travel the world and learn firsthand how the best-of-the-best prepare, perform, and execute under pressure.  A recipient of the Joseph-Bombardier Masters Scholarship and the McGill Graduate Excellence Fellowship, Jessica’s Masters degree in Communication and Media Studies started her down a professional path working at a Communications Firm in Montreal.  But her true calling was to return home to Alberta, where her educational background, combined with her natural inclination to ask “why,” and her exceptional people skills made her a great fit for our firm.


Rounding out the starting line-up, in addition to our trusty Office Manager, Patrick, are stalwarts Lisa Luedtke and Brendan Wade.  Lisa, a Principal in her fourth year and Brendan, an Associate in his second, continue to do excellent work on behalf of our growing clientele.  Lisa, known as our Swiss Army Knife for her ability to solve numerous and often very tricky searches, and Brendan, our hard working 20-something farm boy who is the first to arrive and last to leave, round out a team that I would humbly submit is the best in the search industry, hands down.   No doubt each of Lisa and Brendan will soon be enjoying their own ascendency through the ranks of the firm.


And there you have it.   Like the song says, “let me root, root, root for the home team”; a fully fielded team of nine having emerged from the cornfield and more ready than ever to play ball!   And that’s no April Fool’s joke.




P.S. Today is the last day to donate to the Pekarsky & Co Pro Bonos fundraising efforts in support of Alzheimer’s research.   If you haven’t yet donated and wish to do so please click here to sponsor me. Thank you!


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