Here is how to create an awesome event for your fellow alumni. Richard Bond, WG’72, an executive recruiter, and club volunteer approached James Son, WG’11, and Saloni Sanghvi Varma, WG’07, chairs of the Wharton CFO affinity group, and proposed an event to help finance managers advance their careers. Rich invited an executive recruiter, a career coach, a corporate internal recruiter and an organization development consultant to speak on a panel. The successful event, “What You Can Do Careerwise to Make 2017 a Great Year,” attracted 30 alumni working in finance. They asked a lot of questions and gave the event high ratings. Following are a few insights from the panelists.
Rich Bond is Principal of Bond & Company Executive Recruiting & Search. Rich founded his own firm in 1986 and has placed over 300 professionals in finance, treasury and pricing. Over the years, he has worked with large companies like Nestlé, PepsiCo and PwC, but is primarily working with growing small to midsize companies. Rich:
When considering a company to join, think about whether the company is growing or not. A smaller, growing company can provide a lot more opportunities than a larger but shrinking company.
The job market is not fluid. Often, the skills or employees in demand do not match the supply. Making “location” your first or second criterion in a job search narrows your scope, and makes it harder for your skill set to match the market demand.
Seek to understand the company’s needs and talk about how you can help the company, rather than talking about your demands.
Show quantified accomplishments, not how many people you supervise. Managing a $5 million budget is a responsibility. But if you saved $500,000 while getting a higher level of service, then that’s a huge accomplishment, and employers should want to hire you.
Using the internet to find a job puts you in a black hole. By the time a job is on the internet, it is either already filled, or at best, it is old news with tons of other candidates competing for the position. You want to be ahead of the curve. Working with a professional executive recruiter, trusted by the hiring executive, puts you ahead of the 200 resumes the employer receives from an internet database.
Mark Moyer is a career strategist who founded Compass Points Advisors in 2011. He is a Certified Career Coach, guiding retired athletes and executives toward jobs and careers they truly want to be in. Mark is also a writer for Forbes Magazine on career issues. Mark:
Be proactive. Applying for a job on the internet is reacting to what the job market is feeding you. Instead, first decide which five positions you would love to have, and second, make a list of 40 companies that you would love to work for. You now have a list of 200 jobs that you would be happy doing.
Use LinkedIn to connect to people who are directly tied into those jobs. Send a personalized invitation that says, “As a fellow Wharton grad and professional in your industry, I thought you’d be a great person to connect with here on LinkedIn and ask for advice.” After connecting, email them a thank you for connecting and say you’d like to call them in the next few days to ask your questions.
In your phone conversation, instead of asking, “Hey, are you guys hiring?” say “Tell me what’s your understanding about where the market is going.” Later, you can ask, “Are you aware of any companies that might want to take advantage of someone with my background?” Hopefully, they will say, “Actually we may have an interest in speaking with you about a position here.” It’s amazing how effective this is.
Anthony Sandrik, C’04, W’04, is the Americas Head of Talent Acquisition for WPP’s Digital, Analytics and Pre-IPO investments. WPP is the world leader in communications services, with close to 200 companies in the advertising, media investment management, public relations, digital and specialist communications sectors. Anthony recruits C-suite executives and business leaders across WPP’s corporate network in functions that include sales and marketing, technology, operations, and business development. Anthony:
Companies seek entrepreneurial business builders — executives who possess a successful track record of scaling a platform, revenue and product offering. Successful CFO candidates can articulate the state of their companies when they joined, how they added value and scaled the business, and how they provided sound financial stewardship to achieve their companies’ financial and growth goals.
Be ready to discuss cross-functional responsibilities: CFOs who also act as the company’s COO, or have operations reporting into them, are in greater demand versus standalone CFOs. The scope of a CFO’s role is further increased if non-finance departments, such as IT, human resources, legal or operations, also report into the CFO.
Clearly describe the size of the team you are leading, including direct reports and into whom you report.
CFOs who have helped scale a company from, for example, a $20 million revenue base to $100 million, are different from those who have maintained a $200 million business over several years. Recruiting companies always like to see growth, and if achieved in a challenging market environment, all the better. A compelling resume or CV articulates this.
During interviews, a CFO must be able to convey an energy and tenacity to build or turn around a business. CFOs who no longer have “fire in the belly” to build a business or sort through complexity will be overlooked for more ambitious executives.
Chuck Presbury worked in HR and Organization Development for NBC, Pitney Bowes, McGraw-Hill Companies and S&P. Chuck is a Certified Executive Coach who established his own firm, Presbury & Associates, in 2013. Chuck:
You can only be as strong as your network. Why? Information is changing so fast, there is no way you can understand everything and keep up. Being the smartest person in the room doesn’t work. Rather, your ability to have an intelligence network, and to pick up things and interpret it faster than someone else, makes you valuable. Your network is also your source of power, because you can pull people together who normally wouldn’t think they are connected, or who might not want to work across boundaries.
Research was done on where power lies in an organization. The researchers talked to 500 people working on a North Sea oil platform and asked them how they got information and how they make decisions. They told the researchers, “Ralph.” The researchers asked, “Who’s Ralph?” He wasn’t the COO. He was a guy over on this platform whom the executives didn’t know about, but when employees needed to get something done, they asked Ralph. Because he knew who had the experience and information on the platform. Almost every communication touched Ralph, not the COO. Ralph had job security, because people knew him and trusted him. The lesson is the more you can think about your network, the better you can manage your career. When things change, your network allows you to crowdsource within your organization. It’s not who you know, but who knows you.