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Posts Tagged ‘career transition’

Opening Your Network to Help Others….

July 23rd, 2009 Comments off

                Aside from getting an email or phone call about a job offer, there’s no business communication that has a higher value than receiving notice from somebody in your network that an introduction you made for them culminated in a job offer.  The one thing I learned through my “transition lessons” is how important your network can be for securing the next opportunity. In my case, it has been equally helpful as a sounding board for pressing business issues. In fact, one mentor specifically, has really helped me navigate some pretty interesting business dilemmas.

                I was recently asked to provide some advisory work in the securing of additional working capital, as well as the implementation of a broader finance function for a new company. Although the company was well down the road for product development and patents, they were still start-up from an operational perspective. It became clear, and rather quickly, that they needed an immediate infusion of cash and had put too much faith in other advisors who were not able to deliver. I also knew that I was not going to be their next “rainmaker” and needed to pull in some expertise from my network.  Coincidentally, I had received a call from a classmate telling me about a change in his working situation.

                We met up for coffee and went through what had recently happened with his company. He worked for an OC-based software company and coordinated the majority of their M&A and business development transactions. He had grown tired of their empty promises, inability to execute, and the increasingly high level of politics. Exit….stage right. I knew how he worked and felt that the technical knowledge that he had with the other company would be a great fit for this start-up. Fast forward a few weeks after the introductions and I learned he had been offered a F/T position as their Director of Business Development.  I’ve been able to get 4 people in my network placed over the last year and each placement is equally satisfying. Who in your network have you offered to help lately and are there any folks who might benefit from you opening up your little black book? It’s worth the effort…..

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Are you ready to take on a Micro-Cap company?

November 18th, 2008 Comments off

Over the course of the last year, primarily due to the economy, I have had to build a more comprehensive network and have become incredibly appreciative of this network and the sharing of knowledge. One of the recent discussion threads has been the challenges of moving from a larger corporation to a smaller one. I have been especially keen on this topic since my most recent engagement has me going to one of the smaller companies I have been with. Although I had worked for a $30 million (revenue) company, it was not in the capacity of leading the Finance department and working as an integral part of the decision-making team.

My most recent experience over the last decade has had me in companies ranging in size from $100 million to multi-billion. Most recently leading the North American effort for a $900 million company, which was part of a $10 billion entity. Needless to say, the resources are virtually limitless in this type of environment, whether it be headcount needs or financial needs for projects or capital expenditures. While I still tended to manage the Finance department in a VERY hands-on capacity and knew the details behind virtually every financial figure, I still had a solid staff that made the close happen each month, was available to investigate anomalies I believed needed attention, or pursued projects that would provide sustainable long-term benefits. Basically, so long as I could justify the expenditure, almost regardless of size, the resources would be made available.

Let’s fast forward to the considerations for taking on the task of leading the Finance effort in a Micro-Cap…or SUPER Micro-Cap. This is the point where you really need to start doing some honest Q&A with yourself.
1. Is my skillset strong enough that I can honestly take on a significant hands on role in this Finance department? You need to honestly ask if you’re capable/willing to get into the nitty gritty for all transactions, perhaps even entering your own journal entries.

2. Do I have a strong enough Operations background to be creative in my ability to identify savings opportunities for the company? Your ability to impact the organization is not going to come from restructuring bank relationships, implementing new systems for improved efficiencies, or other major projects, but from partnering with all functional areas to understand the nuts & bolts of the business. Besides, you may not have the resources available for your typical savings initiatives.

3. Do you have the personality that will allow you to work with every level of staffing within the company? Your efforts are not going to be confined to the “C-Suite”. You’ll need to be working with, and get to know, every employee within the company. You need to have the ability to communicate the financial goals of the company to every employee level.

4. So long as you’re not compromising reporting integrity, do you have the ability to be flexible and recognize that there are more shades of grey than the typical company? Things are not going to be so black & white moving to a smaller entity. There’s likely to be a high degree of restructuring, and not in a negative sense, but in a conformation sense. You’ve got to understand that the changes take time and you can’t go in with a “shock therapy” approach.

I absolutely appreciate being in a smaller company and the ability to be hands on in every aspect of the company. That when all is said and done after my introduction period, that I will have an intimate knowledge of the company and what makes it roll. That I’ll be able to see the delicate balance that it operates on and the intangibles of the culture behind it. Although there are certain accounting rules that must be adhered to, the shades of grey is what makes things interesting. Moving to a small company is not for the faint of heart and you need to be honest in your assessment of your personal capabilities and what you can offer the organization.

Thanks for reading. . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael