Prince Harry's Elevator Pitch To Canadian Employers

Prince Harry's Elevator Pitch To Canadian Employers

Dear Prince Harry (aka The Royal Formerly Known as “His Royal Highness”),

Welcome to Canada, we’re glad to have you…I know what you’re thinking:

“What have I done? I have a young family and I’ve quit my job with no backup, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?”

Breathe. First, your wife Meghan has work experience so I’m sure she can get another acting job to help you get by. She doesn’t need my help, but you do, and never fear, I’m here for you.

First things first, you need to start working on your elevator pitch as you may find yourself on a few interviews or in networking meetings and you need to have a coherent tight message that communicates your value proposition to potential employers, try this and let me know how it works:

"Hi, I’m Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (last name is a source of contention, I hope that won’t be an issue with payroll). I am a graduate of Eton College and also the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where I spent a year completing Officer training and was then commissioned in to the British Army.

I served in the Army for 9 years, including two deployments to Afghanistan for which I was awarded the ‘Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan’. I am someone who is always looking to continue learning and growing in my career and so I pursued and successfully completed helicopter pilot training and subsequently transitioned in to an airborne role within the military which was very rewarding.

In 2014, upon leaving active military service I founded the Invictus Games, a global athletic competition where wounded, injured, or sick armed services personnel and veterans from 18 countries compete in 13 different sports, and those numbers are growing with each iteration.

These events are massive in scale with over 75,000 attendees and nearly 1,500 volunteers with global media coverage and a nearly $60 million budget, but the games are even larger in terms of the impact they generate for a community of people that have given their countries so much, and I am incredibly proud of the work we’ve done.

I have a deep and abiding passion for giving back, and a demonstrated track record of resilience and achievement. Whether it is dealing with insurgents on the battlefield or the British tabloids, I have never let challenging situations overwhelm me. Now that I’ve relocated to Canada I wish to continue to develop my skills and to do so in service to an organization that I believe in."

That’s about 80 seconds of elevator pitch and anyone hearing it now knows that you are a person with strong values and the ability to help build and scale organizations that drive massive impact. This is going to lead you in to a very productive interview, if you need some more tips, you can call me. If you don’t have my number, just ask Justin Trudeau to connect us.


Level up your interviews

Level up your interviews

I think that great interviews have common characteristics in them.

I also think that there is an intangible quality to great interviews - like a beat or a rhythm.

One of my colleagues told me that great interviews are also won before they ever begin and when I pressed him on what he meant, he shared his thoughts. I found myself agreeing with him and how he classified interview effectiveness into levels.

I want to share the levels here so that you can assess your own interviews and see if you can ‘level-up’ and get the job you want.

  1. Level 0: Level 0 is a question and answer about the job, the company and the person. It usually relies on the hiring manager to ask questions and keep the conversation moving.
  2. Level 1:  Your next level of interview happens when the interviewer and interviewee have done research on one another. This is a richer conversation that allows for a better connection and exploration of backgrounds and decisions that led them to where they are today.
  3. Level 2: Is when the candidate demonstrates knowledge of the market and the competitors. The effort put into researching the market often informs better questions from the candidate and allows for the hiring manager to see the way that they think about business.
  4. Level 3: At this level, you are asking questions that provoke serious thought on the part of the interviewer. You’re teaching and maybe the dynamic in the room is changing; you might be heading to Level 4.
  5. Level 4: The Interviewee is now the Interviewer - Having demonstrated mastery of the other levels you are now interviewing the employer because they are dying to have you.  They hang on your words, probably jotting down words of wisdom for later. At a certain point, they switch into full-on selling mode with you.

Each level is built on the one before it. You don’t arrive at Level 4 without mastering the others first and you will find yourself with a more integrated thought process as you understand how your skills, background, and previous experiences prepared you to tackle a new challenge with this new company and the hiring manager in front of you.

Shane Gagnon is the Director of Vancouver Operations at Clarity. He can be reached at 604.220.8500 or at shane@findingclarity.ca

Clarity Recruitment is a finance and accounting recruiting company specializing in the placement of designated accountants (CA’s, CMA’s and CGA’s) in the Greater Toronto Area. We are a tenured team of successful recruiters who have worked in the major industries across Toronto. info@findingclarity.ca

 

 


Employees are Free Agents

Employees are Free Agents

When is your Controller like Lebron James?

Hopefully not when they’re talking about US-China relations, that’s for sure. But seriously, when is your Controller like Lebron? It’s not on the company rec basketball team, it’s when they’re free agents, and your employees are all free agents.

Lebron is noted as a savvy business person in addition to being a phenomenal basketball player and one of the most powerful things he did was to pioneer the concept of what people call a “1 and 1” contract. In 2014 when he came back to Cleveland from Miami he signed a 2 year contract that paid him the maximum salary allowed where the second year was a “player option” which means that he could opt-in, or out, of that second year at the end of the season. These deals are essentially 1-year contracts with a security blanket in that second season, just in case. 

Normally, athletes lock themselves into long term max deals (Mike Trout, MLB: 12 years, $430 million; James Harden, NBA: 6 years, $228 million; Connor McDavid, NHL: 8 years, $100 million; etc.) because there is uncertainty in life…What if you blow out your knee? Lock in that money, guarantee yourself a comfortable life. Lebron’s approach was counterintuitive in that regard but it did afford him something else: leverage. Every year his team would have to woo him to come back, so he was able to exert a great deal of influence on which players the team brought in, coaching choices, front office picks, etc. Lebron afforded himself the ability to say ‘goodbye’ to his team on very short notice and this is effectively the position employers are in with every employee all the time.

1. Your Employees are All Free Agents

Because all employees are able to “take their talents to South Beach” at any point in time, it is imperative that you exercise all avenues available to you to keep your team locked in.

2. Financially

Is your compensation package competitive? Are you leading the market? Lagging? You need to know and understand that money is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Compensation is not just base salary, it is cash bonuses, stock allowances, robust benefits packages, etc.

3. Lock in your star performers

You never regret paying a premium for star players, you only regret overpaying underperformers. Develop metrics around performance so you can clearly see who you’re comfortable paying and who you might be ok letting walk.

4. Socially

Human beings are social animals and unless you have office dogs or rescue animals or work in an old-timey circus, your employees are all humans. Cultivate a social fabric on your team that people won’t want to leave. Create collaborative opportunities as it creates for great ideation and exchanges of information, but it also creates bonds between coworkers. Create opportunities for employees to socialize outside of the office. Friendships are formed outside of 9-5, the more friendships that exist at work, the greater your employee retention will be.

5. Provide opportunities for progression

You will lose people if you do not afford them the opportunity to grow. Succession planning for superstars is key, involve them in it early. Give high performers growth opportunities even if they exist outside of your team/function. Having them in the company is better than not having them at all so be prepared to say ‘see you later’ instead of ‘goodbye’ when they join your Ops team instead of your competitor’s finance function.

6. Be OK letting friends go

Business is business and that means sometimes you’ll have to let people go; not everyone can be CFO. Provide open, honest feedback to everyone on the team, frequently. In doing so you will help set them up for success, even if that’s not with you.

Lebron did eventually say “goodbye” to Cleveland and he signed a 4 year deal with the LA Lakers which goes to show you that you can stave off free agency with top-level people by addressing financial, social, and growth paradigms; just don’t be surprised if he’s not still playing for the Lakers in 4 years; we haven’t talked about “pre-agency” yet. 

Remember that career progression and job satisfaction often overshadow job stability for most employees, especially your top performers. Employees are all free agents. Treat them as such.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below or contact Shane directly. For more career advice, job alerts and insights, sign up to our mailing list.


How To Master Maintaining Relationships When Switching Jobs

How To Master Maintaining Relationships When Switching Jobs

Congrats on your new job! While leaving a company to join another can be scary, I think you’ve made the right call, you were ready for a change.

You’re gone, but not forgotten…literally. Those colleagues of yours, now ex-colleagues, still exist. When you’re at your new desk trying to get a handle on your new role (in your new organization while building relationships with new colleagues), your old colleagues are calling and emailing to set up a coffee or lunch to catch up and swap stories. This is all in addition to the fact that you might still have that family at home or that personal life that has a bunch of commitments in it. How do you deal with all of this?

Admit that the dynamic has changed.

  • Your ex-colleagues are now members of your professional network, personal friends, or both.
  • You’ll need to figure out who slots where on a case-by-case basis but doing so will allow you to determine how, and when, to keep in touch with them.

Safeguard your time

  • Don’t meet with your ex-colleagues during business hours for the first quarter of you being in your new job.
  • You need to focus on crushing it at your new job, it takes a lot of effort and people understand that.
  • Draft an update email that lets people know that you miss them and update them on what’s new with you. Send this as a group email or copy and paste this into individual emails and personalize each email as needed.
  • Your ex-colleagues that are friends need to be slotted into your personal commitments time and if you can’t find the time in there to give to them, you’re probably not friends.
  • Schedule one-to-many catch-ups.
  • When you do finally get time to reconnect with old colleagues, carve out a time block and send an invite to them all to come meet you at a bar or coffee shop for a drink. Get the re-connections done all at once.

Invest Wisely

  • For those few ex-colleagues that can hire you in the future, or bolster your career in some way, you should be making a greater effort to maintain the connection.
  • In these cases do make an effort to let them know they’re appreciated and try to add value to them. After all, you’ve seen some things since leaving, let them benefit from your new experiences in an appropriate way (I don’t want you going all Bud Fox in Wall Street on me).
  • For those who nourish your soul, you should also be making an effort to maintain the relationship
  • Whether it’s them being a blast to hang out with or them challenging you mentally, if people enrich your life, keep them around.

In summary, you’re going to collect plenty of ex-colleagues over your career but you’ll always only have 24 hours in a day. Categorize people appropriately:

  1. Family/Friends
  2. Current Employer/Your own career
  3. Ex-colleagues/Acquaintances

Structure your days in such a way that you’re able to continue being a rock star at work while also maintaining relationships that are important to you.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below or contact Shane directly. For more career advice, job alerts and insights, sign up to our mailing list.


Financial Planning & Analysis: Not Just for CPAs

Shane GagnonShane Gagnon, Clarity’s Director of Operations in Vancouver, recently had a hunch that he decided to dig into. His hunch was that Canadian employers seem to have a tendency to hire CPAs over non-designated professionals (MBAs, CFA’s, undergraduate finance/business degree holders) within their Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) functions. This is in contrast to American companies where MBAs, and the like, seem more prevalent.

He recently pulled a random sampling of FP&A job descriptions from Indeed.com and 80% of them required CPAs. Are we missing out on great talent for our finance teams because we’re so focused on the CPA designation?

How many CPA/Accountants make up Amazon’s FP&A team? 22%

How about Telus (only 229 km’s away from each other)? A whopping 82%

But there’s more:

  • Telus has a CPA rotational program internally, they develop their people into CPAs, which helps explain why the number is so high
  • Loblaws has a CPA program too and their FP&A team composition is 83% CPA/accounting
  • Hudson’s Bay Company has no CPA program and as a landmark Canadian institution that is now an American company, they are quite interesting; their FP&A team is split between Canada and the USA. Only 10% of their American FP&A team has a CPA/Accounting background; in Canada it’s 91%
  • lululemon has shown some real willingness to hire outside the traditional background for their FP+A team (possibly due to years of non-Canadian leadership) and their team is still approximately 65% CPA

What is the role of Financial Planning and Analysis and is it crucial that we focus our recruitment efforts mainly on CPAs? Evolved FP&A requires business partnering to optimize decision making and drive results. Yes, there are cyclical, routine elements that are required of the job (budgeting, forecasting, etc) but the true power of the function is unleashing analytical people with quantitative skills (who also have an in depth understanding of finance) into the business to support the execution of operational agendas. Shane points out “there is nothing in that mandate that jumps out at me saying ‘this is why we should exclusively look at CPAs’”.

Mona Kennedy is the VP, Finance at Indigo and she has also noticed an incongruity with how we hire in FP&A, and what the actual role of the function demands. Traditionally, FP&A people have been “focused on budgeting and forecasting, variance analysis, and commentary, they’re not thinking about ‘how do I add value to the business’? What are the drivers and how do we help leaders make the right decisions?” Mona recognized that CEO/COOs without finance backgrounds are not always able to ask for evolved FP&A as they don’t necessarily know what the function can really do. It’s incumbent on finance itself to reinvent the function and demonstrate real value to the business.

“People in the business generally don’t want to hear from finance because they’re always coming around asking “Why are you over budget? Why are you under budget?” so reinventing our FP&A function was about freeing ourselves to automate and streamline the reporting aspect that was normally just expected of us and building real bridges with the business, showing them how we can truly add value to them and that, in large part, demanded us to open ourselves to hiring a different type of profile.”

Mona has found huge success hiring people who have come from MBA and M.Sc backgrounds, one of her favorite hires came from Sales. “Having a background in sales meant they had a real appreciation for the drivers of how a company actually makes money. That mindset has not only helped the business partners we serve but the rest of our team as well. When I am hiring for FP&A I look for business acumen above all else, an appreciation of EBITDA and what drives it. That is a skill set that you find everywhere, not just in CPAs.”

This embrace of moving FP&A to something more than it has historically been was echoed in a conversation Shane had with Oliver Piekaar, VP, Finance at Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (NYSE: RBA, $3.66B Market Cap): “People look at the CFO and those that work under them as people that just create the financial statements that have to be submitted for compliance reasons. At a certain point though you realize that if you’re going to drive value for your organization you have to become more analytical storytellers who embrace data more than traditional CPAs that, by training, seek out certainty. You need great inputs of course, but you need to free yourself to be more curious and more aligned to the business to drive impactful results.”

To their credit though, Oliver points out that “CPAs have a desire for precision which can be  really valuable in FP&A. You are trained to trust but verify, and you have the ability to track the impact of events across all the financial statements. That is not always present in people coming from a non-CPA background which I take into consideration when hiring.”

Shane’s conclusion: “Certainly I’m not going to say MBAs are better and we should hire them instead of CPAs into FP&A teams, but I am going to say that we are doing ourselves a disservice in not giving serious consideration to building out our finance teams with non-CPA profiles. The CPA designation, across Canada, has a well deserved reputation for its quality. As a recruiter and a designated HR professional I can say that I have confidence in the quality imbued in a CPA charterholder in Canada. However, I do question our reliance on it as an indicator for quality in the FP&A space. Should we not be opening our eyes, and desk spaces, to those candidates with high level business acumen, analytical skills, and strong interpersonal abilities regardless of designation (if any)?”

The FP&A professional of the future combines the technical skill set of a business analyst (extract, manipulate, and package data) with the nuanced skills of a financial analyst (analyze the data and tell the story) and packages it with the business acumen of a more operational person in the company. Finding, or developing, those skills in people is very challenging which is why we can not afford to discount a large swath of the population when we are making our hiring decisions.

As we endeavour to build more great Canadian companies, FP&A can, and will, play a key role in ensuring their growth and success but we will hinder that growth if we can not satisfy the demand for talented people and we compound that challenge when we close ourselves off to people that don’t look exactly like what we have historically hired into the finance function.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below or contact Shane directly. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to be alerted to new job opportunities, salary guides, research and insights to keep you at the top of your game

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