A look at the year just finished…
We have worked with a number of CEOs and partner level individuals in 2011, and our strong focus on quality continues to position us away from the broader “Outplacement market”. Our aim is to be trusted advisors for senior people undertaking career change – rather than a volume driven, high overhead supplier of standardised career transition programs.
Our clear conviction that this is the right approach for senior individuals was heavily influenced by our ground-breaking research early in 2010 on the (mostly poor) experiences of senior managers with career transition services. This report is still stapled to our website. It gets downloaded up to 30 times a month (which I find amazing).
I think this work has given us the ability to write informatively and with strong credibility about many aspects of career transition services. We also promote a simple six question survey to our clients as a way to measure quality – in the hope that this will put a bit of pressure on other firms in this area – and reinforce the link between reasonable fees and quality services.
Reinforcing our aim to be thought leaders, a number of initiatives were launched in 2011.
Susan built the Reading Room on our website, which now has a growing body of registered “readers” and she periodically populates the shelves with more rich material of relevance to our client base.
We continue to circulate short papers relating to career development, organisational issues and the building of management depth to a widening body of senior line managers.
We also have a group of HRDs to whom we circulate carefully written and tailored short papers relevant for their professional focus. We continue to get positive feedback.
Norah’s studies into neuroscience have fed a fair bit of our published material. She is our resident mad-scientist. And Susan has an enormous ability to find bits of research to back up the themes and ideas we explore.
Late in the year we have turned to a new project: qualitative research. More on this will be said in due course, as we develop this work.
The biggest bazooka in the Thought Leadership area has been our project editing and building a book on employer branding. Nine chapters, some written by HR people in our client firms, some written by experts and even one written by us – plus a forward by a Glasgow university professor, an international expert in the field. This collaborative research should be out early this year, and will clearly be something of an event to celebrate and launch.
I have also been delighted to welcome into our fold Karen Felder, who is helping us in our focus in the research area. Karen spends part of each week with us, and she is a strong resource for the senior people we work with. Our new level of access to IBIS, and the ability to get terrific industry and company reports has turned out to be a great investment. Their materials are really appreciated by the people we work with.
Another great new participant in our work is Matt Gaffney. Formerly a partner with one of the big four international professional services firms, Matt will deepen our expertise in working with partners in professional services and law firms.
We have welcomed Kate Lloyd in Sydney back into the team. Kate is steadily taking on new assignments with individuals, bringing her rich experience with professional services firms and her studies as an organisational psychologist to the table.
This year also we began working with PeopleScape in Melbourne, and trialling a wide range of psychological tools for use with senior people. Our ability to access and use a range of tools, where the need arises differentiates us from our major competitors, who tend to use one tool across the board.
Finally, we began trialling a membership of CEDA, as a way of achieving better connections with the business community (and in being better informed).
The biggest challenge in running your own professional practice involves winning the respect and enthusiasm of those you aim to do business with. This is not achieved in what you say – let’s face it, most service suppliers make the same assertions – it is achieved in the value you add, with insights, commitment to quality, agility – and the real experience of those you work with. It has been rewarding to see our work in the past few years generating some great referrals.