Craig Hudson, CA, CFA

Big 4 Accountant to Startup CFO: The Journey of Craig Hudson, CPA,CA CFA

At Clarity, when we come across great career stories, especially those that seem like large leaps and even slightly illogical on the surface, we can’t help but write about it. Enter Craig Hudson, an authentic West Coaster with a curious career journey that has taken him from a Big 4 accountant to start-up CFO.

Craig Hudson, CA, CFA
Career Journey

The Early CPA Years at KPMG

After graduating from UBC, Craig began his career at KPMG where he earned his CA and CFA shortly thereafter. Midway through his 7 years in Audit, he jumped at the chance to work in the UK to gain much desired international experience. He then moved back “over the pond” to Toronto and into Transaction Advisory performing M&A financial due diligence for KPMG’s Private Equity clients. In this role, he got to dig into target acquisition files to discover any accounting nuggets that could impact valuations and make or break deals.

At his 10-year mark with KPMG, Craig looked around and reflected that “everyone looks pretty much like me in terms of their experience set and how they think about things. I’m feeling great about what I’ve done to date, but not particularly special.” His mentor at the time countered back that “you’re analyzing incredibly large amounts of data, deriving relevant and valuable insights, then presenting it back to your client in a digestible story. Not everyone can do that.” It was this “nugget” of advice which led him over to Indigo to begin a new chapter of his career story in Business Intelligence and Operations.

Running To or Running From?

Craig jokes that he was “running away from Accounting at the time” when he joined Indigo as a Manager in Business Intelligence in 2009 in Operations, not Finance. His aim was to expand his skill set and breadth of knowledge, and his bet paid off. His role focused on using data to weigh in on every decision that needed to be made around Indigo’s eCommerce business at the time, such as “should we run this marketing campaign?” or “should we invest in this feature on the website?” This was in the pre-eCommerce boom so he was really left to his own devices to deliver valuable insights and decisions in any way that he could. He came to understand how all parts of the business were connected and was soon promoted to Director, then to Head of BI, and ultimately to VP Digital Operations, where he stayed for 5 years owning and/or influencing Analytics, Supply Chain, IT, Product and Customer Service.

Craig was thought of as the “CFO of the Digital Business” but without all the accounting. He was running all the numbers to ensure the P&L was running smoothly and investments were being made in the right places. Where did Craig go next armed with such powerful analytical and operational experience from his 8-year tenure at Indigo? Back into Finance of course, as CFO at Lift & Co.

Fundraising and Going Public at Lift & Co

With a track record of being a top performer and a learner who can adapt, organize information, and apply it to business, Craig jumped at the chance to become CFO in 2017 at Lift & Co, a growing technology start-up in the cannabis space. Lift doesn’t actually touch the plant, but can be thought of as the “Trip Advisor’ connecting the online cannabis community through reviews, industry news, and a place to discover strains that may make you giddy, sad or paranoid (to name a few). Craig quickly learned to navigate in a new industry and in a start-up culture. He was responsible for Accounting, Finance, Investor Relations, Legal, HR, Customer Service and Facilities. In the early days, he would also call Rogers to troubleshoot the internet and restock the fridge.  

The company needed funds to grow. As CFO, Craig became the financially-minded, responsible presence alongside the CEO as they fundraised through venture capital and high net worth individuals. When asked what fundraising is like, Craig explained the challenges: “Investors really want to get the story and know management first and foremost, financials are secondary, but you need to know your numbers. You need a charismatic person to tell the story in a way that is responsible and not overpromise what can be achieved.” Another key learning was that “you really need to sign up a lead investor, someone that the other investors trust to do the due diligence and legwork necessary to invest.” The result? They found their lead investor and successfully raised $10M to fund growth.

Many cannabis companies are going public and having a public “paper” is perceived to make acquisitions that much easier. Lift & Co was no exception, and Craig led the charge on making it happen through a reverse IPO (RTO) in 2018. He recalls it as, “a whole lot of work that is time sensitive and requires organization, but it’s manageable, assuming you have good advisors in place and the information is presented in the way the regulators need to see it.” Going public has opened many doors for Lift & Co, however, operating a public company adds significant complexity as you’ve constantly got the public eyes on you and need to answer to questions like “why are you changing your plans?” and fulfill reporting and regulatory requirements. This can be distracting in a start-up culture that thrives on being nimble and agile.

The $10M fundraise and going public enabled the company to hyper-scale from 15 to 60 people and increase revenues at a greater clip. But that’s not all, it turns out these activities weren’t the hardest (or most rewarding) part of what Craig has taken away from his experience at Lift & Co. It is common for Administrative functions report into the CFO, HR was one of those functions for Craig. As startups scale in size and scope, it becomes more of an art rather than a science to preserve the company culture and keep employees engaged. This challenge was particularly rewarding for Craig. He addressed it by applying his “quantitative mind” in creative ways to increase employee engagement, which was well reflected in quarter-over-quarter employee NPS scores.

A “CA” Who Took Risks

Craig’s career story spans geographies, industries, designations, big companies and startups, and from Accounting to Operations and back. We see this as a compelling example of a “CA” who has taken calculated risks and has been well rewarded in his career progression, life experiences and a vast array of skills.


Are you a CPA who followed a similar or different career trajectory as Craig? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more career stories, job opportunities, career coaching, advice on becoming a better manager and insights to keep you at the top of your game.

Crafting a Career Story

Crafting a Career Story that Sells

Earlier this week, we were thrilled to partner with FEI Canada to bring our popular “Crafting a Career Story that Sells” series to FEI’s network of senior financial executives across Canada. This webinar was an interactive conversation between Andrew Seeley, Head of Consulting at Clarity and Mireille Khayat, CPA, CMA, Financial Executive and active FEI member. Here we share a recap of the conversation as well as some helpful tips on how everyone can become better storytellers of their own career journey.

Crafting your own career narrative begins with reflecting on where you were born. Try jotting down three truths about the city and/or country you grew up in. What was it like growing up? Then reflect on each key milestone in your career so that you know your path. Answer why you did what you did. This will allow you to connect the dots on how the earlier truths and themes have weaved in and out of your life experiences. In Mireille’s case, she grew up in Beirut, Lebanon describing it as the “Switzerland of the Middle East” in a very close knit, entrepreneurial family. She remembers counting buttons for her father who was a wholesaler. In doing this exercise, she discovered that “Entrepreneurship” has been a core theme throughout her life, and that she gravitates to roles where she can wear a “business hat” and excel in a collaborative matrix environment that drives the business.

Beirut is like the "Switzerland of the Middle East"

Her family immigrated to Canada when she was young because of the civil war. Mireille was challenged to adjust to the new environment and culture, and to make new friends. As Andrew and Mireille continued to inspect and dissect her experiences , “Challenge” became another core theme that was clearly evident throughout as she leaped into roles in new industries from packaged goods, telecommunications, life sciences, media, payments, and then into the innovation sector. More often than not, she was challenged to “turn the business around or shutdown”, and turned it around. Mireille is clearly not gun shy when it comes to new challenges and taking risks.

Andrew hosts these workshops monthly at Clarity with a group of 10-12 people in person and manages to find at least one person who is willing to have Andrew “put their career on the board” in front of strangers. The result? Others tend to nod in agreement because they went through similar experiences and know what it’s like. You build immediate trust by being open, even if you feel a little awkward and vulnerable at first.

Deliver a powerful narrative which makes you memorable, creates trust and captures attention

How to craft your career story

  1. Know your path: write down key milestones starting from where you were born, where you went to university or college, and for each milestone in your life since then
  2. Answer why you did what you did
  3. Identify your core themes and patterns in your life
  4. Craft your story using the themes and patterns to connect each milestone that got you to where you are today
  5. Practice telling your story in the mirror, with your family, with your friends, in interviews, with your peers and/or team and at any other opportunity you get
  6. Deliver a powerful narrative which makes you memorable, creates trust and captures attention

3 Tips on Telling Your Story

  1. Avoid negative words: Negative words are more lasting. They stand out more. You need at least 2 positive words in a sentence to defuse 1 negative word.
  2. Position every experience as a plus: Map language to conscious choice in the form of “I chose to” in place of “I had to”.
  3. Don’t skip where you were born: Where you were born is powerful and it may seem vulnerable to talk about your childhood, but it builds trust.  

We encourage you craft your own narrative. Give it a try in your next interview or with your existing team. Leave a comment below to let us know what you think and how it goes for you. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to be alerted to new job opportunities, career coaching, advice on becoming a better manager, research and insights to keep you at the top of your game.

woman holding white mug while standing

How to Ask for a Promotion in the Finance Industry

woman holding white mug while standing
With a new year underway, you may be thinking about some of your short and long-term goals, both personal and professional. Maybe you’ve been wanting to ramp things up in the career department, and a promotion with new responsibilities and opportunities would help you do just that.

If you’re interested in asking for a promotion, but are a little apprehensive about doing so, that’s completely understandable. Asking your boss for a promotion can be nerve-wracking, as it’s a situation that can leave you feeling vulnerable. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take the risk.

Here are some ways to build your confidence and improve your success when it comes to having that important conversation with your boss.

Understand Your Motivation

Before you discuss a possible promotion with your boss, take time to reflect on why you want the promotion in the first place.

Are you genuinely interested in being more involved with manager-level responsibilities? Keep in mind that, according to the Journal of Accountancy, “to be promoted to manager, a CPA needs to show that he or she can handle any of the work being done by employees below him or her on the pyramid while also displaying the nascent skills needed by those above.”

Or is it that you’re more interested in earning a higher salary and having a title that you feel will be more impressive? Perhaps you’re feeling dissatisfied with your current position and believe that a move up the ladder will solve that? There are a whole host of reasons why you could be seeking a promotion. Inc. Magazine describes some typical motivators for asking for a promotion including Ambition, Money, Opportunity, Dissatisfaction, and Boredom.

Understanding your motivation for wanting a promotion will help you determine whether taking steps to get one is the right path forward for you as well as your timing and how you go about it.

Pave the Way

Before you approach your boss about a promotion, consider whether you’ve already been doing the legwork necessary to prove to him or her that you are serious and prepared to take on more responsibility. Some great ways to build your case for why you deserve a promotion include:

  • Gradually asking for more responsibilities – this can include taking some things off your boss’ plate, if possible. Familiarizing yourself with higher-level responsibilities now will set you up for being able to successfully tackle them if you’re promoted in the future.
  • Making time for professional development – taking additional courses, attending relevant conferences and workshops, and seeking out an appropriate mentor all show that you are committed to growing your knowledge and skill set.
  • Honing the right skills – do your research and determine which skills are required for the job you want, then figure out which ones you have and which ones you need to sharpen or acquire. Managers need to have strong technical skills, training skills, the ability to multitask, exceptional interpersonal skills, and a knack for generating business.
  • Asking for feedback – in order to know whether you’re on the right track, be sure to check in regularly with your boss to find out what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better. This information can help with timing your promotion request appropriately.
  • Keeping track of your achievements – you’re in the finance and accounting industry, so you know the importance of clear data and being able to quantify what’s been accomplished. Use this knowledge to your advantage by creating a memo outlining your successes that you can present to your boss when you’re ready to discuss your potential promotion.
  • Finding solutions to problems – being able to identify current problems with systems, procedures, or staff and coming up with actual, executable solutions that you can present to your boss will show initiative and a keen ability to problem-solve.

Find A Good Time

When it comes to approaching your boss for a promotion, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find the perfect time. However, if you’re strategic about when you broach the subject, you might find your boss more open to the discussion. Just ensure you avoid these common promotion-request pitfalls that Forbes has outlined such as “Asking for a promotion or raise simply based on length of time employed”.

If your boss is dealing with tension and problems in the workplace, it might be best to hold off on asking about a promotion until things are running smoother. That type of situation does provide a great opportunity for asking how you can help out, though.

Look for a time when there are positive things happening and the atmosphere is more relaxed. Schedule a meeting with your boss and be sure to come prepared with notes and clear, quantitative examples of what you’re bringing to the table and how you plan to make things even better.

While it’s natural to feel a bit intimidated about asking for a promotion, don’t let that hold you back. Take a deep breath and go for it. After all, if you don’t ask, how will your boss ever know that you’re interested in taking the next step in your career?

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Cannabis Industry

How Finance Professionals Can Break Into Canada’s Cannabis Industry

Cannabis Industry
The cannabis industry has transformed from a niche market that was once considered taboo to a fast-growing, high-profile industry that has been attracting investors and becoming a hotbed of startups. Thanks to legislation that made recreational cannabis legal in October, the market is booming; CIBC predicts cannabis will become a $5-billion industry in Canada by 2020.

With  this focus on the business and investment aspects of the industry, cannabis companies have their financial work cut out for them.

As one of the most tightly regulated industries in the country, a serious demand has been created for finance professionals who are able to steer cannabis companies in the right direction and avoid potential auditing pitfalls. Some common practices a finance professional in the cannabis industry should be prepared for are:

  • keeping track of account records, transactions, and inventory for auditing purposes
  • spotting trends and suggesting courses of action based on the information
  • helping the company navigate tax issues and compliance concerns
  • providing deeper analytical insight into the numbers for future planning
  • educating investors on the unique financial aspects of the cannabis industry and how that affects their investments

So how does a skilled finance professional break into this exciting, rapidly expanding industry?

Get to Know the Industry

Start by researching the industry from a variety of angles including growing, selling, and marketing the products, and gain an understanding of the specific financial challenges the industry faces at all levels.

Stay up-to-date on pertinent cannabis-related news and issues by:

  • subscribing to relevant newsletters or blogs
  • tuning in to topical podcasts
  • following cannabis industry leaders on social media

In particular, finance professionals in the cannabis industry need to become experts on all legal aspects and tax issues involved. Cannabis is treated similar to other agricultural products under the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), which involves:

  • valuing cannabis plants while they’re still in the ground
  • reporting net income for growing and harvesting, even in quarters where there were no sales

One of the major challenges facing the cannabis industry right now is the inconsistency in how companies apply these standards, making it crucial for finance professionals to be able to interpret the rules and regulations appropriately.

Build a Strong Network

Once you’ve got a good handle on the ins and outs of the industry, begin to reach out to key contacts at cannabis companies to express your interest and build on your knowledge. Some great ways to do this include:

  • reaching out to / following those in the cannabis industry via social media
  • looking for relevant training programs available locally or online
  • attending industry conferences, trade shows and other networking events

Try Traditional Job Search Methods

The recent growth in the cannabis industry means there are multiple channels through which finance jobs in the industry can be found. Traditional job search websites are now featuring posts for Canada’s top cannabis companies, as well as positions for smaller startups. There are also specialized job boards for the industry.

An especially effective method of finding the right finance role is working directly with a recruitment firm like Clarity Recruitment, which can expertly match your skill set and goals with potential job opportunities.

It’s important to share with recruiters and potential employers your keen understanding of the unique challenges the cannabis industry must deal with, and the flexibility and creative thinking you bring to the table. Show how your knowledge can help a company navigate the murky waters of the cannabis industry’s current financial standards and legal issues.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment, we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Signing a contract

5 Compelling Reasons to Do Contract Work

Signing a contract
If you’ve ever felt a bit nervous thinking about what it would be like to work contract jobs only, you’re not alone. Many people feel that contract work brings with it too many unknowns, too many what-ifs. The other side of the coin is that the need for finance and accounting contractors is increasing and there are some real benefits that you should consider. Organizations are choosing to apply specialized skills against project needs as they realize the value of the expert in solving a complex or time dependent problem. 

Working with the right recruiter to find contract gigs can actually offer some surprising benefits for those who are interested in doing something different. It can also be an opportunity to build an even more successful career for yourself in the finance and accounting industry.

Demonstrated Success in Multiple Environments

Contract consulting work allows you an opportunity to stand out as you successfully complete engagements across multiple industries and organizations. In many ways, this will diversify your resume through exciting and challenging contract opportunities with a variety of employers. The range of experiences these contract opportunities provide can be a great way to differentiate yourself from other finance and accounting specialists as someone who is adaptable and can add value in different companies.

Contract work broadens OR specializes your profile depending on what kinds of contracts you accept, while making you an agile employee, and teaches you to think on your feet. All of these skills are very relevant to the rapidly changing technology driven economy.

Read: “How to Identify a Good Finance or Accounting Contract” to learn how to land the best contract jobs for you.

Helps You Make Connections

Networking is another great benefit of contract work. Temporary assignments with various companies can introduce you to new people on a regular basis, rather than only working with the same people all of the time. The more people you get to know in various companies, the more connections you have that could lead to other employment opportunities in the future.

Because of the nature of contract work, you might also end up meeting with or working alongside more senior-level people in the company that you possibly would never have had the opportunity to connect with otherwise. This can also open doors for you in the future.

Read: “Getting the Most Out of Networking Events” to learn how to increase your success with networking.

Someone is Paying You to Learn

The reality of contract work is that you might find yourself having to learn new processes, systems, software, and other things on a regular basis, and quickly. This helps develop a broader range of skills, giving you a leg up on those who might have more narrow training.

Working with many different people who are in a variety of roles also provides you with a chance to experience different perspectives or knowledge bases, which can further expand your own knowledge and understanding of the various areas of an industry.

Another way that contract work keeps you learning is by teaching you about yourself. Performing in a variety of roles and working with many types of people can lead you to a better understanding of your own work habits and preferences.

Read: “Why It's Good to Be a Contract Employee” to read about the experiences of some long-term contract employees.

Provides You with Opportunities

Being a contract worker gives you the chance to prove yourself to a company, which may decide to offer you permanent full-time work if they are impressed by your performance. These opportunities might only be available via a contract role, giving you rare access to hiring decision-makers in the company whom you might otherwise never meet.

On the flip side of that is contract gigs also provide opportunities for testing out the waters with various companies. Working a contract position means that you can see how you feel about a company before committing to anything long-term. This is a unique experience that can help you feel out what being an employee at a particular company would actually be like.

Read: “The Pro’s and Con’s of Contract Employment” for insight into more of the benefits (and some of the drawbacks) of contract employment.

Gives You Financial Rewards

Although contract workers don’t have the regular benefits often provided to full-time employees (like sick days, health benefits, and vacation time), they normally receive a higher hourly rate that can more than make up for it. Contract workers are also paid for ALL of the time they work, meaning there’s no unpaid overtime or other extra hours that might be required of a full-time employee.

Consider that your resume is your "currency" in the hiring market. Consulting is the fastest way to increase that value, as it allows you to work in different companies, with different challenges, and this creates a diverse background of capabilities that you can charge a premium for in the market.

Read: “How to Become an Accounting Consultant” for tips on how to decide if contract consulting work is right for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Contract work is becoming more common in the job market.
  • Contract work can make your resume stand out.
  • Contract work can bring you valuable connections.
  • Contract work lets you continuously learn new things and you get paid for it.
  • Contract work exposes you to a variety of perspectives and strategies.
  • Contract work can give you a trial run with a company.
  • Contract work often pays well and doesn’t require any extra unpaid time.
  • Contract work provides experience that you can charge a premium for.

Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

New to Canada

Gaining Canadian Job Experience When You're New to the Country

New to Canada
Canada attracts skilled workers from around the world each year, which boosts our economy and increases our talented workforce. But sometimes if you are new to the country, you may find that landing a job that matches your resume isn’t as easy as you might have expected. Even with multiple credentials, extensive work experience, and an expert skill set, you might find that getting a job similar to the one you held in your home country is difficult.

Companies want to see Canadian credentials and Canadian work experience on a resume, which can be an issue if you’ve just recently arrived. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your resume more attractive to potential employers and increase the chances of you being selected for an interview, and ultimately, the job.

Get Assessed

You can have your credentials assessed by one of the various programs that provide such services, which will help you determine how your credentials match up with the Canadian equivalents. This information will be useful in deciding whether you must go through more training to meet the Canadian credential requirements for your industry. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials has more information on programs that can provide credential evaluation.

Those who want to find work in the finance and accounting industry should consider getting a Canadian CPA designation, which differs from similar designations from other countries. Many companies see a Canadian CPA designation as a minimum requirement and look for candidates who have knowledge of Canadian accounting policy and standards. In a competitive market, candidates who have a Canadian CPA designation will stand out from others who might have similar experience and work history.

Not having a Canadian CPA can potentially impair your long-term earning potential, so even enrolling in the program can go a long way to boosting your desirability for potential employers.

Brush Up on Your English

Employers will want to know if you can communicate clearly in English, which is one of Canada’s two official languages (along with French). Having a slight accent is never an issue. It is more about being able to communicate in and understand English clearly.  If you think you need to practice your English skills, look for classes available in your area.

Seek More Training

If you find out that your credentials don’t quite meet the requirements of the industry you’d like to work in, look for courses available that can help boost your hiring potential. Even short-term programs can provide a good basis for working in Canada and will be valuable information to include on your resume. Training programs can also be a great way to network with others who are interested in or are working in your preferred industry.

Be a Volunteer

A great way to gain some Canadian experience is to volunteer your time at a local non-profit organization. Those who want to work in the finance industry might find that they are able to volunteer their time helping as treasurers or bookkeepers for non-profits. This experience is great to add to your resume, will give you something interesting to talk about in job interviews, and could put you in contact with others in the industry.

Switch Gears

One way to get your foot in the door when it comes to starting your career in Canada might be to take a position at a different level than you may have been working at previously. This can provide you with valuable Canadian work experience that will help you move to higher-level positions in the future. Look for opportunities to move into other positions as you continue to gain experience.

This is also a fantastic way to look for mentorship opportunities. Actively look for someone in the company willing to mentor you, as not only will it provide you with insight into working in a Canadian company, but it will also allow you to learn more about the industry and the company you’re working for. It’s best to find more than one mentor, and even better to find a mix of sponsors, mentors, and coaches to provide you with the most comprehensive advice and guidance.

Gig work, which involves temporary positions that are often part-time, can also provide you with valuable work experience across a variety of companies and roles. Leverage the gig economy to build your experience by searching gig sites online and finding gigs that you can later list on your resume and LinkedIn page to gain credibility.

Attend Networking Events

Look for events that are open to anyone in your industry, regardless of their job title. Networking events provide a valuable opportunity to learn more about the industry, meet people who could help advance your career, and practice your English skills if they still need some work. Reaching out to others for advice and building relationships with those in your industry is a good way to jumpstart your Canadian career.

Finding people who have a similar background and are now in roles that you would like to be in is a great way to learn about various paths that people have taken to succeed. These folks will be more likely to help you because they have been there, and will be able to provide very useful information for you on what steps you can take to get where they are today.

Read: “15 tips for landing a job in Canada: A guide for New Canadians” for more ideas on how to boost your employability.

Observe Cultural Differences

You might notice that workplace etiquette in Canada is different in some ways from that of your home country. Learning some of the Canadian cultural expectations is important, especially during the interview process and working alongside others in your workplace. Don’t be afraid to ask co-workers or your manager for tips on how to carry yourself appropriately in certain work situations.

Make a Lateral Move

If you worked for a private company in your home country, and you can’t find similar work in a private company here in Canada, consider making a lateral move to a non-profit organization, public company, or government department. Not only is there additional job potential, but shifting industries slightly while doing similar work can also provide you with important work experience.

Read: “Accounting Career Tips: The Pros and Cons of a Lateral Move” for more information on how to make a lateral career move.

Key Takeaways

Starting a career in a new country can be exciting, but if finding work in your chosen industry is difficult, you may need to take a few steps to make the process easier.

  • Work with a recruiter who can see your potential and help you build up your resume, while also providing advice on which jobs/areas to target.
  • Find out if your credentials meet the requirements for Canadian workplaces, and if they don’t, look for training opportunities to bridge the gap.
  • Ensure you are able to communicate clearly in English, and look for local classes if you need to practice.
  • Gain some experience volunteering by doing something related to your chosen industry, and consider taking a position at a different level with a company for a while to gain Canadian work experience.
  • Look for networking opportunities and pay attention to some of the cultural norms that you might need to use going forward.
  • Keep yourself open to making lateral moves from one industry to another in order to access even more potential job opportunities.


Your Next Step

No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

Friends meeting at a table

Your Friends are an Important Professional Resource

Friends meeting at a table
We suffer through a lot of suboptimal weather in Canada, but when summer finally kicks in, it feels worth the wait. Some time ago, I found myself taking advantage of one particularly spectacular summer day by hosting a barbeque. Despite exasperatingly accurate comments that “potato salad should not be that colour,” the barbeque was amazing. The guests were all people I knew very well, though they didn’t know each other. This, I suspect was part of what made the event so enjoyable: aside from the comments about my potato salad, the most consistent feedback I got from my guests was how blown away they were by the other people they met. I take pride in surrounding myself with exceptional people, and I think you should too.

If you’re wondering what all this has to do with recruitment or finance jobs, I don’t blame you. It’ll probably help if you think of this as an oblique approach to the grey area between your personal and professional lives. That’s the crux of the issue right there – the concept of a personal versus professional life. Certainly, there are aspects of each that should remain compartmentalized. Your boss probably wouldn’t appreciate being greeted with a kiss on the cheek, and I doubt your spouse requires a ten-page memo outlining your upcoming grocery run.

But our personal lives do inform our professional lives, in finance jobs and beyond, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the people we associate with. Tony Robbins’ mentor Jim Rohn famously said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with – it’s something I’ve touched on before. If you have a partner, kids, parents, in-laws, etc., you probably spend most of your time with them. Since you can’t (or at the very least, shouldn’t) opt out of those relationships, we can view them as a baseline – they’re not really part of your five-person-average. This means that you get to choose the people in your five, and that’s not a choice to be taken lightly.

The impact of your friends can be limited to your personal life, if you so choose. And if all you want from them is to drag you out hiking or introduce you to your new favourite sushi restaurant, that’s okay. But your five closest friends represent greater potential for growth than just expanding your culinary horizons; if you let them, they can make you smarter. And as far as your career is concerned, your friends can bring you closer to the people and solutions that will give you a definitive edge.

The thing to remember is that you aren’t a finished product. Personally, I find that relieving: what would I do with myself if I had reached the limits of my personal growth? Maybe I’d take up knitting… Regardless, we should all strive for continual improvement, whether that means cutting down your 10k time or upping the ante at your finance jobs. Sometimes, that means spending time with people who are smarter or more interesting than you are; sometimes, that means viewing your network less as a phonebook and more like an encyclopedia.

For instance, when I think I’m about to revolutionize the way I and everyone else in recruitment do business, I reach out to my friend Ryan, who has worked in business development for years at some really cool companies. He’s better than I am at sales, so he can give me blunt but useful feedback, and ways to test the idea further. He’s also interested in developing himself, so I freely offer my help where I can.

If I begin to suspect that some of my methods are antiquated, I call Fenton. He works as an innovation consultant and has experience as a strategist, so he makes a living thinking outside the box. He can always help me see angles I never knew existed. He’s also interested in developing himself, so I freely offer my help where I can.

When I want to expound my thoughts, challenge my beliefs, or better understand ideas, I talk to Sohaib. Sohaib worked with the UN, is a master’s candidate at Harvard Kennedy School, and is a genius at dissecting big ideas. I was talking with Sohaib at a bar once, and watched as a provincial Liberal candidate overheard our conversation, joined us, and then asked Sohaib to work on his campaign. 

If you’re seeing a trend here, it’s no mistake. In areas of value to my life and to my career, I have people in my circle who push me to grow and improve. I know that even if we’re just out grabbing a drink, I’m going to come away with a few things to think about. These people aren’t just entries in my phone book to call on if I think they can help me get closer to a career opportunity; they’re extensions of my network who each offer a unique catalyst for my personal growth, just as I offer reciprocal opportunities for their personal development. Nobody likes a one-sided relationship, after all.

‘Recruiting friends’ is more than just collecting business cards – it’s something organic. Find incredible people who embody the aptitudes and insights you want to see in yourself, and make those people your friends. Since incredible people rarely have ordinary friends, each new connection you make reveals a new circle of compelling individuals and the opportunities they all represent.

Even so, no single person is going to turn junior finance jobs into top-level executive positions overnight. But by cultivating your friends with a specific set of goals in mind, you can steer your career in the direction of your choosing. There’s always going to be a new way to bring yourself closer to what you want and whom you want to be, but it’s incumbent upon you to keep making the right connections. It takes a village.

Growth comes from all sorts of places. Maybe that weekend you spent alone in the mountains really changed your perspective. But if you’re looking for ways to keep growing and achieving within your professional roles (and who isn’t?) try looking outward. Think of something right now that you wish you could do better. You know that friend-of-a-friend who’s always up to something incredible? Have your mutual friend make the introduction, and start growing. Don’t know that friend-of-a-friend that’s always up to something incredible? Tell your friends you want to expand your network and ask them to set you up with the smartest person they know. It’s almost criminal to be inside on these summer afternoons in Vancouver anyway, so get out there...together!

There’s always more to a story than can fit on a page. Get in touch today to learn more about my story, or to find out how I can help change yours for the better.


Shane Gagnon is the Director of Clarity Recruitment Vancouver, with six years of experience in the industry. This is his personal blog, where you can expect to find not only insights from his endeavour to disrupt the recruitment industry, but also a glimpse into his pursuit of a satisfying career for himself and the finance/accounting professionals of Vancouver. Join Shane for each new post, as he reveals the journey that brought him here, and where he plans to go next.

Blue Diploma

Making Time for Professional Development

Blue Diploma
Being in the workforce for years is a major advantage when it comes to experience, but it can also make you a bit too comfortable. Performing the same tasks, dealing with the same problems, and interacting with the same people each day means you could likely operate on autopilot after a while.

The reality of today’s working world is that continuous learning and improvement is necessary to ensure your skillset remains relevant and that you offer more than just experience. Seeking out professional development opportunities not only increases your knowledge in a particular area, but also shows your current (or future) employer that you are open to learning and are flexible when it comes to changes in your industry.

That being said, many of us have so much going on in our personal and professional lives that it can be difficult to know how to carve out time for continuous learning opportunities. Here are a few tips on making time to explore professional development options that can boost your confidence and your career.

What is Your Focus?

The first thing you need to determine is what area requires your attention. Are you looking to brush up on skills you already have? Is there a new area or skill you’d like to add to your repertoire? Your focus could be as general as “I want to know what’s new in my industry”, or as specific as “I need to learn how to write proposals”.

One way to figure out where to focus your energy is to consider your work reviews. Have there been any areas your boss has said could be worked on? Reviews offer a glimpse into your skillset and potential opportunities to make you an even more well-rounded and valuable employee.

Looking at job postings in your field and area of expertise is also a good way to determine if there are gaps in your skillset. Are employers now looking for experience with technology? New processes? Networking with others in your field can also help you understand what areas you might need to work on and what your competition is offering that you currently cannot.

What Can You Spend?

Finding time is a major consideration for professional development, but so is finding money. Does your employer have a professional development budget for their employees? If so, you might not have to worry about covering the cost yourself. Many workplaces offer this benefit to their employees, especially when the training pertains to the employee’s actual job. If your employer doesn’t offer professional development funding, consider speaking to your boss about whether this is something that could be implemented in the future.

If you’re going to have to cover the cost of a course, workshop, or other training opportunity yourself, be realistic about what you can spend and know that there are plenty of options out there that won’t empty your wallet.

Where Can You Find Opportunities?

With the amount of technology at our fingertips now, the answer is everywhere. Once you’ve pinpointed what you’d like to focus on and what you can spend, you can start to look for specific learning opportunities that fit your budget. The beauty of today’s technology offerings is that traditional classroom learning is far from the only option you have.

If you have a small or non-existent budget, don’t despair. There are plenty of free learning opportunities online. YouTube is a great source of information when it comes to the basics of just about every field, and can be a good place to start. There are also sites like Alison, which offer various course formats on many topics, free of charge, and with expert-produced content. Your local library is also a goldmine of information, from traditional book formats to online journals to e-courses.

Those who have a bit more to spend, or whose employer is footing the bill, can explore lectures, seminars, courses, and workshops offered by post-secondary institutions, industry associations, and field experts. These are great short-term or longer-term options that provide more in-depth information and expert insight. Another option is to discuss with your employer whether they would be willing to have experts or trainers come into the workplace to train you and your coworkers in a group setting.

How Can You Fit it Into Your Schedule?

The key to making professional development work for you is finding the time to devote to it, and sticking to it. Take a look at your current schedule, both work and personal, and consider whether there are any activities or time-wasters that could be removed. Use that time instead to learn or improve a skill. Schedule learning time the same way you would any appointment or event, and make sure you’re consistent.

Technology has made it possible to learn just about anywhere, so find short periods throughout your day to sneak in some professional development time. Listen to audiobooks during your commute, do coursework on your breaks, or attend a workshop over lunch. Instead of zoning out in front of the TV in the evenings or on weekends, take half an hour to an hour to learn something new.

Key Takeaways

It’s important to focus your energy when you have limited time to devote to professional development, so determine what your needs are and work on those specifically. Consider what kind of budget you’re working with, and if your employer doesn’t offer professional development funding, it might be time to have that conversation. Choose opportunities that fit your needs, budget, and available time. Look for non-traditional options that allow you to learn anywhere, at your own pace, if time is an issue. Finally, replace time-wasters (like TV or obligations that don’t interest you) with learning opportunities, and reap the benefits of a stronger skillset and increased confidence.

How to Promote Yourself When You’re an Introvert

How to Promote Yourself When You’re an Introvert

How to Promote Yourself When You’re an Introvert
If you prefer to spend time by yourself, feel drained by social interactions, think deeply about the world around you, and sometimes have trouble selling others on your merits, you’re probably an introvert.

While introverts bring many important skills and qualities to any field, the popularity of open office environments, interactive team building activities, and never-ending series of birthdays, showers, and other celebrations means introverts can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed or alienated in the workplace.

So, here are some ways you can make your voice heard, stand out from the crowd, and create an impact, without having to change your personality completely.

In Job Interviews

Try to schedule your interview at a time that works best with your natural energy and that fits in with the rest of your day. If you have a lot going on that particular day, arrange things so that you aren’t flustered by the time you make it to the interview. Try to leave some space between the day’s activities to ensure you have time before and after the interview to recharge and regroup. Even just half an hour can allow you some time to mentally prepare yourself beforehand, and reflect on the experience afterwards.

Practice makes perfect. Go over important points you’d like to make, answers to commonly asked questions, and any small talk topics that might be useful, and do this over and over again until you feel confident with the material. You won’t be able to completely prepare for everything that will be asked in the interview, but at least you’ll have some solid groundwork to keep you on track.

First and last impressions are key in any job interview. Your first minute or two of interaction with your interviewers sets the tone for the rest of the interview, and your last few minutes will likely be what they remember best when they debrief after you’ve left. Go into the interview with high energy, smiling and shaking hands, and leave with high energy, thanking the interviewers for their time, again smiling and shaking hands. Let the moments that will be most memorable to the interviewers be the ones in which you focus the majority of your energy.

Talking to people can sometimes be daunting when you’re an introvert, especially when you’re trying to make a specific impression. Mirroring the tone and body language of those interviewing you can help create a great impression as well as calm your nerves. If the interviewers are formal and serious, it’s probably a good idea to match that energy rather than trying to be super bubbly.

Make your introverted personality a desirable trait. Talk about your strengths as a great listener, a strategic thinker, a reliable researcher, and someone who is detail-oriented. Sure, extrovert qualities are often celebrated as being more team-focused, but the qualities that introverts bring to the table can be just as important to team needs and goals.

In the Workplace

Meetings can be challenging for introverts when they’re up against extroverts who sometimes hog the spotlight. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Much like preparing for job interviews, gathering what you’d like to say in a meeting ahead of time can help prepare you to get your point across clearly. If you find yourself being interrupted by others, be willing to jump back in when necessary, but also don’t be scared to interrupt those who have interrupted you. Your voice is just as important.

When working on group projects, introverts can sometimes be treated as the workhorses, while extroverts receive much of the credit because they’re so willing to talk about their input. Never be afraid to share with others what your contribution has been and feel free to speak up when a project isn’t headed in a direction you feel comfortable with.

Despite what some might think, introverts can be great people to have in leadership positions. They are often willing to listen to what others have to say and are open to implementing ideas that aren’t their own. Introverts are also often compassionate and empathetic people who can build trusting relationships with their direct reports. If there are extrovert-like leadership traits you think you could improve, working on these traits will help balance your leadership style.

In Networking Situations

Networking is another arena in which introverts often would prefer not to find themselves. However, it is an important aspect of career building and personal development, so should be part of everyone’s schedule at some point.

Look for networking events that will give you the most bang for your energy buck. Maybe an all-day conference is just too much socializing, and you don’t feel you’ll get much out of it past a couple of hours. Selecting events that are held over lunch or in the evening, that are short and sweet ways to make connections, might be your best bet.

Taking advantage of networking opportunities online is a great way to promote yourself and your work, particularly when you’re an introvert. Many introverts prefer to express themselves in writing, which provides time to think and edit what you’re going to say. Social media platforms and online networking sites like LinkedIn provide a comfortable space to let the world know what you have to offer, so use these wherever possible.

Key Takeaways

Being an introvert can present some challenges in today’s workplaces, but using your specific skills to promote yourself where you can is important. When it comes to job interviews, being strategic about scheduling, preparing, using your energy, and promoting your skill set will help you feel more confident. On the job, don’t let your accomplishments and ideas drift into the background. It’s OK to speak up and be honest about your contributions. Finally, choosing networking events that will prove to be most fruitful and using online networking opportunities like social media platforms will help you spread the word further about what you have to offer.

Professional How to Survive Busy Season

How to Survive Busy Season

Professional How to Survive Busy Season
How to Survive Busy Season

The holidays are distant memory and you’ve forgotten what it feels like to have daylight greet you at the beginning and end of your workday. While you’re non-accounting and tax friends are planning winter getaways, you’re trying to find any last remaining clean shirts.

Just remember, you’re not alone, and there are ways to regain your sanity.

Take Care of Yourself
This seems obvious, but self-care is often one of the first things people neglect when work gets crazy (hence the clean shirts). Stick to a routine to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, set aside time to create meal plans that will help you eat better, and sneak exercise in wherever you can – take the stairs, walk to the store, or stretch while you watch TV. Being smack in the middle of cold and flu season means you should probably stock up on vitamins, too.

Stay Organized
Do what you need to do to stay on track. Calendars and to-do lists, whether on paper or on your computer or phone, can be life-savers when you find yourself with too much to do. Prioritizing techniques like colour-coding and flagging items on calendars and lists, or in your email inbox, will keep you even more organized, and setting up automatic notifications will remind you of your deadlines. A 10 minute prioritization and scheduling exercise once a day can significantly decrease stress levels.

Don’t know where to start? Read “How to Organize Your Life: 10 Habits of Really Organized People” for  easy ways to get back on track.

Look for Inspiration
If you’re a fan of inspirational quotes, follow a spiritual guru or life coach on social media for a little morale boost each day. For something a little more in-depth, reach for a self-help or inspirational book that will help you stay grounded and encourage you to move forward. There might even be someone in your office who can offer some sage advice on getting through the next couple of months. 

Remove Distractions
Checking your phone every few minutes won’t help you accomplish much in the task-completing department, so turning the volume off, or even the phone off completely, and putting the device somewhere out of view is a good way to find focus. Distractions can also come in the form of colleagues who want to chat, so you might need to make it clear to them when the conversation has to end (politely, of course). 

Just Say No
Learn to speak up for yourself when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, since delegating or splitting the workload can ease feelings of anxiety, as well as can often get the job done faster. This also applies to your personal life, where too many obligations can prevent you from focusing on what you need and want. It’s OK to decline an event invitation or drop a hobby that you’re no longer enjoying.

Find Reasons to Smile
Outside of work, do what makes you happy, whether it’s working out, baking or cooking, spending time with family and friends, being creative, or volunteering. Taking time to unwind and let your hair down is important for your mental and emotional wellbeing. Looking to the future can also help, whether that means planning a trip, or organizing a fun event. At work, try to stay focused on the positive and look for small things each day that you appreciate.

Key Takeaways
You can’t do much about how cold it is outside, or even how much work is about to come across your desk, but you can control how you’re going to deal with all of it. Making your physical and mental health a priority will help ensure that you are ready to take on new challenges and stay ahead of your peers. Doing things to keep yourself organized and motivated, at home and work, will pay off with increased productivity, giving you more downtime. Finally, focusing on what’s great in your life will help balance out stress and a lack of energy.