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Nothing Routine About It – The Ampersand November 2019

November 1, 2019

Dear Friends & Colleagues,


The weekend I chose to peck out this month’s Ampersand saw the Calgary Stampeders lose to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Calgary Flames lose to the Winnipeg Jets, the Edmonton Oilers lose to the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Eskimos lose to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.


This capped off a month of losing. For some would say ‘we’ lost the Federal Election. Albertans certainly lost their voice around the table in Ottawa (to the extent we ever had one to begin with). More on that here for those inclined to indulge my post-election analysis.


We’ve also gone on an uncharacteristically long losing streak here at the firm. With a historical conversion rate of solid-leads-to-paying-work of around 50%, we’re not accustomed to losing. Yet October saw us lose out on several pieces of work we pitched for, yet came up just short. Feedback of low-ball bids from competitor firms desperate for revenue brings back bad memories from 2016; it’s a game we didn’t play then, and don’t plan on playing now. Fittingly, our losing month came to a poetic end when we lost the ATB Small Business of the Year Award to Routine, a locally owned and operated deodorant company.  Wait for it.  Ya, that stinks. #dadjoke.


Alas, we have not lost our sense of humour nor our fighting spirit. There is absolutely nothing routine about losing around here and the best way to ensure that is to simply start winning again. To that end, November begins with our annual two-day strategic planning retreat, during which time the entire P&Co. team will hole up in a downtown Boardroom to do a deep dive on our business, giving serious thought to how we can continue to do what we do most of the time: win. Win great mandates from our clients and win the appreciation of our candidates and the affection of our community.


The theme of this year’s retreat is The Next 10 Years and with the meeting taking place exactly 10 years to the day that we took possession of our office space above The Cellar on Stephen Avenue Mall, the retreat is quite literally the first day of the next 10 years of our firm’s existence. Coincidentally, in preparing for another strategic planning retreat that took place on October 30th, this one for the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation on which I am privileged to sit as a Board Member, I came across this motivating quote in the pre-read materials:


“Ten years ago, the CMLC team embraced our mandate with undaunted zeal. And the results surpassed everyone’s expectations except our own. Now, with the same fervour, we embrace the decade to come.”


Couldn’t have said it better myself.


So, as October mercifully came to an end, we focus on the months, years and decade ahead and we do so with the optimism, stubbornness and fervour that  only a small business can.  And we remind you, in doing so, of Mayor Nenshi’s tweet and impassioned admonition to the packed room at the ATB Small Business Awards as he spoke at length about the duty to buy local. In fact, #buylocalyyc is a campaign that expressly challenges Calgary-based organizations to examine their procurement practices and ensure they hire local vendors and suppliers.



Just one little itty bitty problem…when it comes to hiring executive search firms, the City of Calgary currently has three preferred vendors: one of them, headquartered in New York, boasts “65 offices in 40 countries”; another, headquartered in London, touts 61 offices in 29 countries; and the third actually has the word “International” in its firm name, yet curiously operates in only eight Canadian cities (perhaps they know something we don’t know about Alberta independence?).  Exactly none of the preferred search vendors of the City that is aggressively promoting a “buy local” campaign is actually locally owned and operated. Meanwhile the locally owned and operated Pekarsky & Co. – a firm that has worked successfully for dozens of civic partners and proven itself more than capable of executing complex, high-profile searches – continues to employ only Calgarians, keep our tax dollars here and ensure 100 cents on every dollar we give to charity is put to work in Calgary, for Calgarians.


Perhaps the campaign should be called #do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do.