5 Considerations When Leaving Corporate for Non-Profit

04/16/2014 03.50 EDT

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This article originally ran on Non-Profit Information.  To view it, click here.   It’s an increasingly common trend: After making their mark in the corporate world, senior-level executives want to give back by taking on a leadership role within a non-profit. The good news is that 73 percent of non-profits surveyed said they value for-profit experience in candidates, and 53 percent have significant for-profit management experience represented on their senior leadership teams.   But the transition from corporate to non-profit comes with some particular challenges. Here are the five most common that executives mulling a transition should anticipate:   1) Understand that there may be many more stakeholders involved in a non-profit – and the opinions of each matter. The biggest adjustment for corporate professionals entering the non-profit world is often the number of stakeholders involved in a non-profit – each of whom has input to share. While corporate professionals’ primary focus is almost entirely on three groups (shareholders, customers and employees), non-profit leaders must consider a significantly larger audience that could include funders, employees, elected officials, patients or clients, families of patients and clients, alumni, etc.  Successfully navigating the various relationships of the non-profit world requires a careful understanding and concern for all parties involved.   2) Be prepared for a different culture at a non-profit. The culture of a non-profit generally has a far more collaborative leadership style than for-profit organizations.  Unlike the corporate world where decision-making typically rests with one individual or a small group of executives or directors,...

8 Ways to Advance Your Career to the Next Level

03/13/2014 09.46 EDT

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It is always refreshing to speak to students, young professionals and mid-career executives.  I find it broadens my thinking, and the group shares great ideas throughout the collaborative process.   At a recent Drexel University Alumni event, I spoke to fellow attendees about how to advance their careers to the executive level.   Here are eight suggestions we shared on advancing careers:    Know your career objective and pursue it with vigor:  If you are fortunate enough to have found your interests and passions in the workplace, do your best to understand and become an expert in the field.  Determine how you can continue to advance your skills and knowledge on an ongoing basis. Competence alone won’t advance you in your career:  Speak up.  Ensure you ask for what you need and don’t be shy about “tooting your own horn.”  You need to be noticed for a job well done; don’t assume your boss or other key leaders know what you have accomplished. Take some career development risks:  It is important that you take charge of your career.  Be proactive.  Have discussions with your boss about what you’d like to do next.  Partner with him or her and develop recommendations on your next steps.  Make it easy for your supervisor to say “yes” and help you move to the next level. Network, network, network:  You should network even if you are not looking for a new job.  Networking can expand your thinking – learn what others are...

10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

01/13/2014 11.13 EDT

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It may be a little bit late, but nonetheless, I am announcing my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.   I will stop creating retaliatory traffic problems for my rival colleagues near my office by moving the big plant outside my door into the middle of the hallway. If it becomes necessary to create that bottleneck, I will not send an email to my assistant asking her to move the plant for me. I will stop waiting for the sky to fall every time there is a weak jobs report.  I will convince myself that we will never have another recession as severe as the last. I will put a small amount of the money I buried in my garden back into the bank.  At some point. I will take Twitter more seriously. I will submit at least one proposal response to an RFP in the language of Farsi, just to see if anyone notices. I will agree with everyone who tells me that LinkedIn is going to put us out of business. I will never say “I told you so” when they call in two months in need of immediate help on a search. I will stop explaining the business model of retained executive search to well-meaning people who do me the “favor” of sending me resumes of their unemployed friends and neighbors. I will submit my blog entries in a timely manner to She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed so I don’t have to resort to listing my New Year’s Resolutions...

Say-on-Pay Simplified

12/04/2013 04.24 EDT

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With “Say-on-Pay” and Dodd-Frank being practically household names, perhaps it is time for a 101 version in case you missed it.   With the financial crisis in 2008, the United States government developed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was set up to buy assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen the financial sector.  It was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008, and it was a component of the government’s measures to address the subprime mortgage crisis.  TARP originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion.   Out of this same financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) was born, with its fundamental purpose being to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  It also reduced the amount authorized by TARP to $475 billion.  Barney Frank has described TARP as “highly successful and wildly unpopular.”   Fundamentally, over several years, tons of risk was being taken in the housing market by financial institutions that did not suffer any consequences.  These actions created significant economic change, which required a BIG change in legislation.  Translation: loans were made by people who were going to sell the loan, with the incentive being to issue many loans with little concern for borrowers’ ability to pay them back.  Not a good thing.   We saw the Lehman failure followed by the AIG failure.  None of the debts for Lehman were paid, while “all” of the debts for AIG were paid.  However,...

Land of 1000 Welcomes

11/18/2013 12.15 EDT

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One of the wonderful opportunities in being part of a global association is the chance to meet and build relationships with others around the world.  Through Salveson Stetson Group’s affiliation with IIC Partners, we have joined annual meetings in interesting places; last year, our meeting was in Thailand, and this year we met in Ireland.   I was excited about visiting Ireland, as I heard it is called the Land of 1000 Welcomes.  I thought that was just a nice slogan made up by a marketing firm, but I was wrong.  It truly is very fitting!   I’ve highlighted a few thoughts on what I learned during my visit in Ireland:   Yes, it does rain or drizzle often, which makes the landscape very green.  However, the sun does shine as well!  We were fortunate during our trip to have enjoyed sun-filled mornings.   The pubs are the best places to meet people.  Of course, we had to test this out, and test we did.  The locals go out of their way to talk to you, give you suggestions of places to visit and are filled with pride to show you the country.  They are great ambassadors.   Irish dancing truly is what it’s cracked up to be.  I was amazed at how exciting it was to watch them.  It looks like a great form of exercise, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself so I only observed – maybe next time.   The taxi drivers in...

Why Would You Want to Work for a PE-Backed Firm?

10/24/2013 11.35 EDT

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This article originally ran on CFO.com.  To view it, click here.   For CFOs who may be of a mind to hook up with a private equity-backed company, open your eyes wide and tread very carefully.   When speaking with senior financial executives about their career aspirations, the conversation often turns to a desire to work for a private equity-backed company. I am talking about a large majority of respondents here – at least 70 percent. When I ask why, the answer invariably focuses on the opportunity to participate in a transaction and the potential financial rewards to be reaped by doing so.   That is a pretty naïve answer. For every success story out there in private equity-backed firms, there are many more failures. Working in private equity is difficult, particularly for a CFO. Any financial officer contemplating making this type of move for the first time in his or her career must to go into it with eyes wide open. At a bare minimum, consider the following:   1. Not all private equity sponsors are created equal. The industry is not monolithic. In addition to industry specialization, private equity differentiates by what type of asset each firm considers. Is the firm buying the asset to clean up the balance sheet and quickly turn it over? Is the investment for long-term growth? Does the private equity firm have a habit of breaking up the companies in which it invests? CFOs contemplating such a move should investigate how the private equity...

An Unscientific Assessment of the Economy

09/26/2013 11.52 EDT

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Relying on economists for predictions about the tone of our economy can be a frustrating business. After all, everyone knows the First Law of Economics:  For every economist, there exists an equal and opposite economist. The Second Law is that they are both wrong.   So what’s a person – who works in a business that is intimately tied to the economy, but who never once stepped foot in the business school during both his undergraduate and graduate school years – to do?   Rely on unscientific, subjective information, of course.   So here is my hot-off-the-press amateur assessment of the economy: things are improving. Here’s my case:   We just closed a search in which the placement received a sizable counter-offer from his employer when he went in to resign. They are a professional services firm that is swamped with work. The line at Starbucks is definitely getting longer. I met a very senior-level executive last week who decided to leave a high-paying job, purely voluntarily, so she could conduct a job search to take a different direction in her career. We recently closed two search assignments for a client company with candidates who had multiple offers in hand, leading to a mini bidding war. I do not consider it idiotic that I am buying organic, boutique food for my cats. Our firm is hiring again, for the first time in about five years. The new iPhone just sold about 100 million jillion units in 23...

Aspire to be a CHRO?

09/17/2013 02.20 EDT

Think business first and human resources second. Understand the business, its trends and how you can utilize all of the necessary tools and levers to ensure the company is meeting or exceeding its expectations. Be intellectually curious about the business, ask thoughtful and insightful questions and understand what it takes for the business to thrive.
Aspire to be a CHRO?

The best way to move into your first CHRO role is to ensure you are performing at your highest level in your current position. Your contributions will be recognized and, clearly, you’ll be on your way to being considered for your first CHRO opportunity.

Think business first and human resources second. Understand the business, its trends and how you can utilize all of the necessary tools and levers to ensure the company is meeting or exceeding its expectations. Be intellectually curious about the business, ask thoughtful and insightful questions and understand what it takes for the business to thrive....

Why are we Working in the Summer?

08/05/2013 12.44 EDT

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Our firm is a member of IIC Partners, one of the top 10 retained executive search groups in the world with 46 offices in 35 countries.  Several months ago, I volunteered to lead a work group to conduct IIC’s first-ever global survey.  The topic we chose was succession planning and we will be able to share what we believe will be some very interesting results in the fall.   The survey was drafted, vetted and ready to go by mid-June.  The plan was to invite participation during July.   Throughout this project, I have learned quite a bit about cultural differences, language, gender bias and various other nuances of trying to get a group of 10 people from 10 different countries to agree on survey questions.  Let’s just say I understand now why the United Nations needs such a big building in New York – and a peace-keeping force.  But we soldiered on and the survey went live.   That’s when I learned about another cultural difference:  working in the summer.   Some of our partner firms flat-out told us that they essentially close their businesses for the better part of either July or August.  Business slows to a trickle over the summer months and most of their clients are gone.  That’s just the way it is.   Then there are the people who are on holiday/vacation/leave – call it what you like.  They have messages that say that they will be out of the office until...

End of the Day Parade

07/15/2013 09.20 EDT

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There are many things I love about the Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia’s children museum.  One of my favorite activities is its End of the Day Parade, a daily tradition where staff members and colorful characters wander through the museum with instruments, encouraging children and their families to follow them.  They march around the museum and eventually out the main door.  This parade is an orderly process that allows the children and their families to end a day of play and learning in a fun way without tantrums, tears and resistance.  It is brilliant!   I have always wondered if the End of the Day Parade would be effective in the workplace.  Change and transitions are disconcerting for everyone – children and adults alike.  HR executives are constantly focused on leading change management initiatives, attempting to determine approaches that may help the organization and its employees navigate through shifts in strategy, organizational redesigns, restructurings and adapting to new leaders.  During times of change, many questions emerge, including:   What messages do we need to reinforce and how often do they need to be repeated?   Are leaders clear on the direction they are going? Which employees or key talent need to be communicated with and how do you ensure their “buy-in” to the changes? How do we retain top talent under times of uncertainty? How do we coach managers and leaders to ensure consistent messages and themes are being stated? What obstacles will we face and how will...