21 Jan, 2012 | by

After tying up some paperwork to officially bring the engagement to a close, I walked the client’s hallways to say good bye to the friends and colleagues I had made over the previous five months:  “Rich, it was an absolute pleasure working with you.  Do make sure you keep in touch.  So, what’s next for you now”?  To which I almost always reply:  “That’s a good question.  I have no idea, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I land.”  After a few hearty hand-shakes and a couple of heart-felt good-byes, I turned in my security clearance and exited the building.  Before entering the taxi standing by to whisk me away, I closed my eyes and took a brief moment to contemplate the experience.  Shortly thereafter, I opened my eyes, let out a deep sigh and thought to myself:  “It’s time to move on to the next challenge.”  “Where to sir?” replied the patient taxi driver.  “Airport, please.  I’m eager to get home”. continue reading »

17 Jun, 2009 | by

people_header

I’m frequently asked by friends, family, clients, job candidates and random people I encounter on my travels what it’s like to work on the advisory side of a Big 4 firm.  Typically, if there’s time to discuss and there’s mutual interest in the exchange, I’m immediately bombarded with a slew of follow-up questions like:  What do you do exactly?  How does one get into that line of work?  How much do you travel?  Is it a good career path?  Is there such a thing as work-life balance?  Is it challenging?  Do you think I’d be good at it?  And so on…

The reason I’m so consistently willing to discuss my perspective with so many people, especially young professionals, is that I was once in their position and had many of the same questions.  When I received answers to my inquiries from people in the profession, many of whom continue to this day to be my friends, I was intrigued.  After some time contemplating the potential challenges that such a job would offer, I decided to pursue a chance opportunity to join the ranks of Ernst & Young LLP.  I’ve been with the firm almost three years now.  Looking back, I feel as though the six years of professional experience I had accumulated prior to joining E&Y, although invaluable on many levels, simply did not hold a candle to the client exposure, professional networks and shear rapid-fire experiences afforded to me in my present capacity.  I must confess, however, that this outlook reflects how I feel today, which wasn’t always the case.  Reaching this point has taken an immense amount of patience, hard work, resilience, ambition, and even a little luck.  Yes…I said luck. 

To be clear, this article has not been written under the guise of any Big Four recruiters.  Its goal is not to solicit top talent or self-promote services offered or whatever other angles you might have running through your head right now.  I respect all of the Big Four firms, especially mine, a great deal but feel that the only way to offer up a truly unbiased perspective on the lifestyle is to provide genuinely candid insight.  The primary purpose of this article is to offer a balanced perspective to those who may be interested in such a career path regardless of industry focus or subject matter area.  continue reading »

26 Feb, 2009 | by
Topics: Marketing, Sales

clients1

 1.     The easiest way to get what you want (i.e. a client’s money) is to give them what they want – or need. Whose money is it anyway?? It’s all about them, their company, their problems, their fears, their needs, their threats and their wants. Research your audience, personalise your pitch by using relevant case studies and only use admissible and appropriate language and jargon. Only talk about yourself and your company, when relating how your qualifications, experience and abilities can help them get what or where they want.

2.     Find out what they want – where they are and where they want to be. Listen aggressively and ask questions. Pay attention to what they say – ask questions to gain more detail or to check that you have really received what they have broadcast, summarise back to them your understanding of their situation, take notes, use their names. Prescription without diagnosis is pants!

3.     Treat people like people – People buy from people they like and trust, especially with the declining trust in that corporate logo on your business card!!! Don’t rush in and knock people over – assess and respect the speed and mood of your audience. Be in the room, employ attentive eye contact, and switch off your Blackberry! Focus on being a human who can help. Long-term loyalty is built up by real long term commitment – relationships count, especially in a credit crunch. (Pitch productivity success rates are great for managers, rubbish for pitch teams – focus on gaining or retaining happy trusting clients one at a time – the numbers and the ratios will look after themselves.) The risk/reward ratios of the client are what you should be focusing on – your impact on them, their career and their organisation is much more than just the project investment or your fee structure. It is where you as a professional could take them, their organisation or their career. ROI and a trusting relationship are a very strong pair. continue reading »