Kevin Hibbert, CPA, CA, shares his insights on the importance of relationship building and understanding organizational dynamics when it comes to your finance career.
He also lends his personal philosophies about thinking bigger, embracing challenges, and the advantages of biting off more than you can chew. Read part one of our two part blog.
Kevin Hibbert’s path to becoming Controller at RBC Dominion Securities and CFO at RBC Direct Investing has been fuelled by intellectual pursuit, perseverance, and an ability to recognize and act on opportunities. These opportunities have included high profile positions at organizations including Ernst & Young LLP, Standard and Poor’s, and CIBC. From each experience, Kevin has distilled valuable lessons for individuals starting, advancing or changing their finance careers.
Lesson 1: Understanding Human Dynamics as a Critical Success Factor
While many who start new careers focus on developing their technical skills and field-specific knowledge, Kevin suggests focusing equally on understanding the relationships and human dynamics within an organization.
“When I started my career, I wish I knew how equally important the ability to understand people-dynamics in your organization is to technical know-how,” says Kevin.
In order to stand out, you need to expand your social reach and garner trust and credibility from as many people within the organization as possible. For Kevin, this became a matter of building relationships up, down, and laterally within his organization. Kevin notes that it is important to “make sure that your relationships are based on a mutual respect that is underpinned by hard work, sound decision-making and trust.”
Lesson 2: Challenges, Opportunities, and “Don’t be Afraid of Biting Off More Than you can Chew”
A keen understanding of workplace dynamics and the development of a trusted team provide a framework from which you can begin to make your mark on an organization.
Kevin’s experience and success operating both within and across large scale organizations has led to a core set of fundamentals that he believes are crucial to making a mark, including taking advantage of opportunities presented and challenging one’s self to go beyond natural comfort zones.
A saying that he counts as indicative of his success is: “Don’t be afraid of biting off more than you can chew.” Kevin sees one of two options for individuals who choose to take on either a greater number, or level of responsibilities, “if you fail, they will respect you for trying. If you succeed, you’ll be a rock star.”
When evaluating whether or not to pursue an opportunity or take on more responsibility, it is important to remember that there is often much less to lose and more to gain when biting off more than you can chew.
Lesson 3: Staying Hungry, Humble and Having a Healthy “Chip on your Shoulder”
Though Kevin’s ascension through school and his early career was marked by high levels of achievement in all areas, his experience with the chartered accountant’s Uniform Final Exam gave him a different kind of motivation.
“Up to that point, I succeeded in anything I touched in university and finished top of my class, but for some reason I really struggled with that darned exam!”
His struggle and eventual success developed the resolve he is known for today.
“I think it helped to keep me humble, but also gave me a healthy ‘chip on the shoulder’ to ensure that I was always motivated to prove my ability in everything I do.”
By taking challenging assignments or circumstances and counting them as learning experiences you can work to develop the same type of motivating chip on your shoulder.
Kevin believes that being hungry, humble, and having a good attitude are among the most important attributes when evaluating a new employee.
Read Part 2 of Think Big – Tips For Your Finance Career from Kevin Hibbert, CPA, CA tomorrow.