Segment Director Petfood
Vice President K-12 Strategy
Director of Business Development
Business Development Manager
Leading the growth of a marine services company’s underwater technology resources
Director of Inventory
National Sales Manager
President & CEO
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
Director of Operations
Robert Hukshorn - Success Study
Segment Director Petfood
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager for a Dutch innovator of diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry.
High Tech, Beauty, Cosmetics, Sales, Packaging
When his interim position ended, Robert sought a new job, but Covid had changed the job market, and he knew he had to learn to job search differently from how he’d done it in the past.
Robert boosted his network and strategically leveraged his contacts to slip in the backdoor of a company for a position that was a perfect fit for his skills, experience, and long-term goals.
Robert is the new segment director petfood of a global leader in metal packaging, a position that satisfies nearly every aspect of his 5-year goals.
Robert Hukshorn was interim general manager of a Dutch innovator of high-tech, diagnostic and analytical tools for the beauty industry. An experienced change manager, Robert succeeded in achieving some aggressive organizational improvements at the company, including reducing working capital, growing sales, and reducing default rates. It was his first taste of being managing director of a company – something to which he’d always aspired. When he stepped down, he took a short break before looking for another position.
His timing, unfortunately, coincided precisely with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I didn’t consider my next move before I left the company because I needed to clear my head. In February 2020 I did what I always had; I lined up some interviews. Then Covid happened. One day I had three or four opportunities cooking; the next day they all stopped,” said Robert.
Robert continued his job search for several more months without results. By May, he knew he needed to do something different.
“What had worked before wasn’t working anymore,” said Robert.
As Robert sat googling recruiters, he began to wonder if there weren’t a better way for job seekers to get the help they need.
“Headhunters and recruiters work for the company, and I thought: Isn’t there someone that does it the other way around? Then I stumbled on The Barrett Group and thought: This is it! They are doing something different!”
Robert had never used an executive coach before, so he did his homework.
“I asked a few people I knew in the recruitment world if they’d heard of The Barrett Group. Only a few had, but none had worked with them. I filled in the form and within a few days I was talking to a company representative. Obviously, I asked for a reference. I feel that I got a really honest portrait of what the process entails. There is no magic wand and you get a dream job. You need to do the work,” said Robert. “In the end, I took a leap of faith because it was a method I’d never tried before.”
In signing on with TBG, Robert wanted guidance on honing his job search and building his network.
“I can sell any product, but I found it hard to sell myself,” said Robert. “Once I get to the table, I get my strengths across. But how do I get to the table?”
Robert’s first “Aha!” moment came during the Clarity Program.
“It was really good – way better than I expected!” said Robert. “I expected everything to be focused on the career path, but you also focus on personal goals, like work-life balance, health and fitness, and 5-year targets.”
The greatest benefit Robert got from Clarity (including the motivation to lose 25 kilos) was that it became very clear that a position of general manager, impressive though the title may be, was not for him.
“I realize that I derive my energy from the commercial and technical side of business and less so from the operational side,” he said. “That focused my job search. I put that and other goals on my wall so every day it would remind me: These are my 5-year goals!”
He also narrowed his search to the high tech and packaging industries. As Robert began working with his career consultant, he found himself reflecting on that “dot on the horizon” often during his job search, which helped him stay on track.
“The next step of the program is totally different from Clarity – it’s business!” said Robert. “Working with Greg Emslie, I really came to understand how the job market works.”
Robert had used both the published and unpublished markets in previous job searches, but he found this time was a very different experience because he learned how to be strategic.
“It’s a sales funnel! When you understand what influences a company to hire you, you can consciously take steps to increase your chances of success,” said Robert.
Robert doggedly followed TBG’s program. He updated his resume, built up his social capital, and leveraged LinkedIn to search for new opportunities. Before he had enlisted TBG, he had searched for people in the packaging industry in the Netherlands and invited them to connect. Many did, but until he joined The Barrett Group, he didn’t know how to make those connections useful. With his newfound education, though, he created a spreadsheet of his new contacts and wrote each one requesting a 15-minute conversation to get to know them. This turned out to be the key to his landing success.
“I saw a position for ‘segment director petfood’ of a packaging company that was so close to my 5-year target. I submitted my resume and a PowerPoint presentation that laid out all my qualifications through their website, but there was no hiring manager’s name associated with the position. I felt like I was throwing my resume into a black box,” said Robert. “So I leveraged the unpublished market as I’d learned.”
Robert noticed that one of his new contacts had recently worked at the company. He reached out for more information. Before long, he had the private cell phone number of the hiring manager in hand and was able to reach out directly to the decision maker. They had a great conversation.
“He told me that he knew in the first 30 minutes that I was the guy for the job,” said Robert. I entered the game just in time – even two to three weeks later would have been too late!”
Robert signed a contract two months later and is elated to have had such a successful landing.
“It’s absolutely fantastic! I wake up with a big smile in the morning and I go to work singing,” said Robert. My new colleagues have been extremely welcoming. It’s been one of the best onboarding experiences I’ve ever had.”
Robert truly valued the help he got from his coach.
“Greg was a critical co-thinker during my job search. He is someone I can brainstorm with and has been an extremely good sparring partner for me – asking the right questions, like, How will this opportunity help my long-term goals?” said Robert. “With the help of Greg and The Barrett Group, I didn’t get nervous. I stayed focused on my goals and made a conscious choice about where I wanted to be. All this has been tremendous value.”
Elfreda - Success Study
Vice President K-12 Strategy
Elfreda was a distinguished faculty member and national facilitator for a non-profit that researches the world’s best educational systems and shares its findings with America’s education leaders.
Education, Non-profit, EdTech, Software
Elfreda had risen as high as she could go in her organization and wanted new challenges, however, she wanted to be thoughtful and intentional before making her next career move.
Quantifying her accomplishments, using social media to leverage her rich network, and artfully messaging her job search were key to Elfreda’s success.
Elfreda connected with a former colleague who wanted her expertise in building out his EdTech startup and offered her an exciting executive role with a very attractive compensation package.
Elfreda was a national facilitator at a Washington D.C.-based non-profit that studies the world’s best educational systems and provides coaching for school superintendents, principals, and other U.S. education leaders on educational system designs and best practices. Her tenure at this organization capped a long career in education, education administration, and professional development, but after six years of piloting and driving various leadership development, performance, and system change initiatives, and earning the highest possible honor of “distinguished faculty member,” Elfreda felt that she’d maxed out her professional opportunities there. She wanted greater challenges.
The challenge Elfreda had was that she had always been recruited organically for new career opportunities and had little experience launching a job search. She also wanted to step back and carefully consider the direction of her career.
“I was so busy working that I never spent time getting clarity on what to do next in my career or reflecting on what I brought to a position. There came a point in my sixth year when I felt strongly that there was more that I wanted to do,” said Elfreda.
She also wanted a compensation package that was commensurate with her background and experience.
“I knew I had more value. I’m known in the education space and I’ve not had trouble supplementing my income with consulting work,” said Elfreda. “But I wanted to work with an organization where I would feel like a partner on a team and be excited about the work I was doing.”
A leadership coach, herself, Elfreda was a big advocate of coaching in career development, but she’d never hired one before. She knew the time had come to do so.
"I needed an executive coach to help me be really clear about what I wanted. I am near the end of my career and wanted to be very intentional about my career change,” said Elfreda. “Mentors have helped me throughout my career, but I knew a professional coach would help me develop a formal strategy. Coaches also bring a greater level of accountability, so the likelihood was greater that I would follow through on my strategy. I saw this as an investment in me – a gift to myself.”
Elfreda started with TBG’s Clarity Program, finding it to be a great way to reassess her goals and priorities.
“With my Clarity coach, Stuart Bailey, I realized that I had goals that I wasn’t prioritizing, like spending more time with family and exercising on a regular basis. I learned that salary is not the most important thing in my job search, rather, trust, respect, flexibility in my schedule, and working with open-minded people. Stuart also helped to reinforce some of my positive traits that I wasn’t highlighting,” said Elfreda.
“That first phase of the program was really helpful to me. I didn’t expect it to be as helpful as it was,” said Elfreda.
Elfreda got even greater benefit from the relationship she built next with her career consultant.
“Julie Mathern really pushed me. She taught me to do stuff on social media that I didn’t know how to do. That was a priority for me. I like systems to track things and she brought them to me. Julie really encouraged me. I felt we had a really good connection,” said Elfreda.
Although she had a great personal network already, Elfreda welcomed Julie’s coaching on how to leverage it and how to communicate to people that she was job hunting. She also felt that the work she did on quantifying her accomplishments added a lot to her resume and interviewing skills.
Elfreda’s job search had barely gotten started when the pandemic went into full swing. At first, she lamented her poor timing, but she came to see a silver lining.
“I was still working at my former job and, because of the pandemic, I wasn’t traveling as much. My work went online, and that shift meant less time in airports and more time at home to focus on my job priorities,” said Elfreda.
Her job search moved more slowly, but Elfreda trusted the process. She credits her consultant with keeping her on target. In the coming months, three or four opportunities arose, proving to her that her new strategies were beginning to work.
“Julie reminded me that I didn’t have to accept the first offer. She encouraged me to stay true to my priorities and wait for the right opportunity to come along,” said Elfreda. “I really valued that relationship. I didn’t want to let her down!”
Her consultant predicted that Elfreda’s network is what would bear fruit – not job postings, and she was right. Nearly a year after beginning her TBG program, Elfreda saw on LinkedIn that a former colleague was building out an EdTech startup. She initiated a conversation and, not long afterwards, the colleague said he needed her as a thought partner and would love to have her on his team.
Elfreda’s career consultant coached her through the hiring negotiations, including title, compensation package, and reporting channels. In the end, Elfreda got a job offer that delighted her and she is now thoroughly enjoying her new job helping to build learning tools for virtual education.
“I’m contributing a great deal and helping to grow the company,” said Elfreda. “I’m energized by my new job.”
Elfreda is grateful to The Barrett Group for helping her navigate this career transition.
“Having a consistent coach was really helpful,” said Elfreda. “And it was clear to me that all the people at The Barrett Group really wanted me to succeed.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
Lindsay - Success Study
Director of Business Development
Lindsay was senior territory sales manager for south Florida for a global manufacturer of dental and orthodontic solutions.
Health Care, Medical Devices, Hospitals, Pharmaceuticals, Sales
After 13 years in the industry, Lindsay aspired to new challenges that were unreachable without making major career changes and enlisting professional help.
The interconnection of various job search activities, plus a strong coach keeping the process moving forward, was the perfect recipe for Lindsay’s success.
Lindsay is director of business development for a startup dental management company, an opportunity that marries the career advancement she sought with her dental industry experience.
As the south Florida senior territory manager for a global manufacturer of dental and orthodontic solutions, Lindsay was responsible for sales and strategic planning for a $2.9 million, top North American territory. She worked with existing customers, sought new business, and streamlined workflow efficiencies – in short, she was the “CEO of the territory.” After 13 years in the industry, she was ready to take her career to the next level. The problem was that her company offered no opportunities for career advancement to people in her position, even top performers like her. Lindsay had little hope that other companies in the industry would offer her them, either.
“Two years ago, I asked about internal programs to cross-train for other job opportunities, but they had nothing in place and weren’t willing to help me grow. It was clear there were few options for advancement there and, frankly, it would have been the same situation at another company. To move out of sales and make a big career change I knew I would need to advance my skills,” said Lindsay.
That’s when Lindsay decided to get an MBA. Continuing at her job full time, she spent 18 months taking classes. Driven with ambition to kickstart her new career, Lindsay enlisted The Barrett Group to start job hunting even before she’d completed her MBA program.
“Going back to school for my MBA is the best decision I ever made. You learn so many different aspects of business, how to think like an executive, and how everything connects together,” said Lindsay. “It’s also how I found The Barrett Group. One of the guys in my cohort recommended them to me.”
Lindsay’s MBA program contracted the services of a well-known recruitment firm, but after six months she realized that they were too narrow in scope for her needs. She hoped The Barrett Group (TBG) would provide her more support and help her create a solid career strategy.
“I needed help with all aspects of a job search, including rebuilding my resume, using LinkedIn, interview prep, as well as sorting out what it is I wanted to do,” said Lindsay.
Lindsay knew she wanted change, more challenges and better compensation, but she didn’t have a clear idea of what her ideal job looked like. She considered leaving the healthcare industry entirely but saw the difficulty of shifting job type and industry simultaneously.
Lindsay spent the first few weeks of the TBG Program working with Scott Henderson, her Clarity coach.
“He was very, very good! We had great conversations. We really clicked and he really helped me work through a lot when I was reeling from Covid stuff,” said Lindsay. “Scott gave me confidence in knowing what my strengths are, the management style and culture of the company I’m looking for, and that I need opportunities for leadership and stretch projects. He brought it all together.”
When Lindsay, who was the first client to use TBG’s new service delivery system, Asana, started working with her career consultant, Julie Mathern, she found it a seamless shifting of gears from the internal work of figuring out what she wants to finding a job.
“Reworking my resume was the first thing to tackle. Julie had me start by putting numbers to my achievements. Working with her and TBG’s resume writers took my resume to a whole new level. The way they word or position something I did in my job was really thoughtful and creative,” said Lindsay.
The next task was to redo Lindsay’s LinkedIn profile.
“We worked on reaching out to people and building up my social capital. I’m pretty good at networking already, but Julie challenged me to do more and get out of my comfort zone. You never know what will lead to a job opportunity. If nothing else, it’s great practice!” said Lindsay.
Lindsay already felt confident with interviewing, but the work she did on her resume improved her interviewing skills, too.
“I had to get very specific about the metrics I wrote on my resume, which I then used in my interviews,” said Lindsay. “Julie also helped me prepare for the types of questions I might get.”
The pandemic created some challenges in Lindsay’s job search – she was hard pressed to find companies that were hiring – but an unanticipated benefit was that it gave Lindsay time to finish her MBA and work on her career strategy.
“Covid was actually the best thing to happen to me because I focused,” said Lindsay. “I never lost my job, but all my clients shut down for two months. I spent that time working with The Barrett Group. No one was hiring between October and December, but people were willing to talk. I had great exploratory conversations. Julie helped me with that.”
When companies started hiring in January, Lindsay knew it was just a matter of time before opportunities would emerge for her. And they did.
In quick succession, Lindsay found herself interviewing with four different companies, all in the dental/healthcare space.
“People told me all along to stick within dental, but, at first, I didn’t want to hear that. Julie never told me that. She just kept guiding me so I could realize my own path,” said Lindsay. “Had the hiring manager of the job I took approached me last summer, I probably wouldn’t have responded. Since then, however, my thinking has evolved, and I am very glad it did!”
Lindsay’s great opportunity found her thanks to her revamped LinkedIn profile – and a bit of good timing.
“My new company is a dental management startup that provides nonclinical support to dental practices and wants to expand into Florida. I’ll be the director of business development handling the M&A new market development work in Florida, and leveraging the relationships I’ve built with dental owners to help them make their businesses more efficient. It is a brand-new business role for me in an industry where I have 13 years of experience. This is a perfect fit for me! The stars have aligned!”
Lindsay has no doubt that she will be successful in her new position and credits The Barrett Group a lot for her successful landing.
“The services The Barrett Group provided were so thorough, and Julie helped keep it all together and moving forward,” said Lindsay. “I’m a very motivated person, but it was the interconnection of all these services that helped me get the job. I realize how important it is to work with experts sometimes!”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
David - Success Study
Business Development Manager
David was a senior account manager and a 13-year veteran at a family-operated specialty food distributor.
Sales, Logistics, Food & Beverage, Food Distribution
When management changed the company’s commission structure, David decided to explore opportunities with better earning and advancement potential.
David needed The Barrett Group’s full range of services to sharpen his job search readiness, but his interview preparation and LinkedIn Analysis training were critical to landing his new role.
Within seven weeks, David accepted a job as business development manager at a company in a similar industry making double the base salary, plus commissions.
David began working for a specialty food distribution company straight out of college, wearing many hats, and growing with this family business even through an acquisition. After 13 years, he had risen to senior account manager, driving direct-to-retail sales, developing new business, and writing record revenue, but he was beginning to feel that he’d hit a ceiling on upward mobility. When management then changed the company’s sales commission structure, David decided it was time to explore other opportunities that would allow him to leverage his experience and connections.
“My compensation changed dramatically,” said David. “I am in the best earning years of my life and I needed to make a decision that was best for me and my family, so I decided to see what else is out there.”
Because David had never worked for another company, he opted to enlist professional help early on in his job search. He began by researching executive recruiters, but when he came across The Barrett Group and learned about the fuller range of services it offered, he felt that an executive coaching firm would be a better fit for his needs.
“I had never been on a job interview. I needed to update my resume, my LinkedIn profile, prepare for interviews, and do a lot of other work to get ready for a job search. I saw that The Barrett Group had great results and knew I’d be in good hands,” said David.
David didn’t resign immediately, rather he started The Barrett Group’s Clarity Program while he continued with his job.
“It was great! I got a lot out of the different personality assessments. They were so impressive and really put things in perspective – they made me reflect on the ‘why’ of my drive to make a career transition as much as the ‘how,’” said David.
David was pressed to write down his goals in a clear, conscientious, measurable way, keeping in mind the skills he has. His goals included more responsibility, having a leadership role at a company, stepping outside of his comfort zone, and getting an opportunity to convert his weaknesses into strengths.
After the Clarity Program, David began working with career consultant, Paula Nordhoff. She helped David revamp his resume, develop his reference list, build up his connections on LinkedIn, and learn how to use LinkedIn Analytics.
“Paula was awesome! We had a great rapport. She really helped me in every facet of her responsibility. She was very professional and very willing to jump on a call at any time to work through a problem. I’m very happy with Paula,” said David.
What David valued most about Paula was her help with interview preparation.
“More than anything, Paula was really, really helpful with the interview process. She prepped me on what questions to expect and how to answer them,” said David. “I’d never done interviews outside of college and that was 13 years ago. Paula helped me to be as prepared as possible for them.”
David spent a lot of time beefing up his LinkedIn connections and he credits that effort, along with his newfound interview skills, for his job search success. In the weeks after starting with TBG, David interviewed with five or six different companies, but the lead that panned out successfully was at a company with which he’d unsuccessfully interviewed months before starting with The Barrett Group.
“In October, I connected with one employee at a company that manufactures and distributes ice products. I applied for a position as national account manager, but it faded away,” said David. “In December, after I began working with The Barrett Group, I connected with someone who knows someone who knows someone else at the company I had interviewed with. Thanks to all these new connections, the company decided to take another look at me. They thought I’d be a good fit as a business development manager and that I could grow the team.”
Soon after, a hiring manager reached out to David to set up an interview. One month and four interviews later, she became David’s direct boss.
“Paula, my career consultant, coached me through the entire interview process,” said David. “She was tremendous. She was very accessible – always there when I needed her. Everything she did was great. I couldn’t have done this process without her. And the information the TBG research team provided really helped me impress people during my interviews.”
David’s new position is to develop new territories, win new accounts, and grow ice sales in the Philly metro and South Jersey area.
“I love it! I don’t take orders with this job, I am focused on getting new business, which I love. This is new and exciting, and I have more responsibility than before, which I welcome,” said David.
David is thrilled that his base salary doubled, but the growth opportunity at the organization is what truly drew him in.
“They’re quickly growing and want to add levels to their team. I feel like I fit in well with the team and am looking forward to proving myself as a leader,” said David.
David found his interactions with his consultant, Paula, and his use of LinkedIn to be the most valuable aspect of his TBG experience, but he also recognizes the great benefit he got from all of TBG’s services.
“The whole staff was super helpful during the whole process. Everything helped put me in contact with the right people at my new company. Getting a base of understanding and putting my best profile together on LinkedIn really helped secure the job for me,” said David. “I’m very happy with the preparation I got from The Barrett Group. It has been an overwhelmingly positive experience.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
Alisa Preston - Success Study
Leading the growth of a marine services company’s underwater technology resources
Alisa Preston simultaneously juggled two careers: manager and engineer at a Canadian electric utility and COO and co-owner of a family-owned, adventure tourism diving business.
As a result of family circumstances, Alisa felt compelled to resign from her salaried job and her family-owned diving business and start fresh elsewhere, but she wasn’t sure how to get started.
Finding her dream job felt like finding a unicorn, so Alisa leveraged her network to set up dozens of informational interviews with various entities to explore her options.
One company that offered guidance to Alisa grew enamored with her ideas and invited her to pitch, and ultimately to run, a new program for them as director of marine technology.
For several years Alisa Preston maintained two demanding, full-time jobs. Her “day job,” where she worked as a high-level engineer and manager at a Canadian utility company, provided her a paycheck. Her “fun job,” at which she was chief operating officer for a family-owned diving business, was an acclaimed, educational, diving expedition business that fulfilled her personal and professional passions. Alisa ended both jobs, however, when a family emergency arose that threatened the diving business.
“I was burning myself out. My “day job” didn’t excite me and my entrepreneurial business, which could have been a success, was stymied by family circumstances,” said Alisa.
Still passionate about operating a diving business, Alisa partnered with a colleague to explore starting a brand new one.
“The concept wasn’t just dive travel, it was integrated with education, science, conservation, environmentalism, and tourism,” said Alisa. “We planned trips to Fiji, Cuba, and Kenya…it had the potential to be amazing. Unfortunately, we could not have launched the business at a worse time. The pandemic hit and we had to postpone all our trips until it was safe.
Alisa found herself at a crossroads. She wanted a fresh start and was focusing on opportunities in the United States but didn’t know where to start. She had a wealth of experience in so many unique fields and wanted to find a job that allowed her to combine all her expertise into one position that was also intellectually challenging, but she didn’t know what it would be. After her challenging year, she also wrestled with serious self-doubts about her ability to take a professional leap successfully.
“It seemed like a fantasy. I wanted to pursue a job in a different country that I didn’t think even existed,” said Alisa.
In late 2019, on the recommendation of a good friend, Alisa began working with The Barrett Group. It was exactly the catalyst she needed to start an exciting next chapter of her career.
“Finding a position that aligned perfectly with me felt like a pipedream, but the people at The Barrett Group seemed to recognize the unique package of skills I have,” said Alisa. “I realized that sometimes you have to invest in something to move forward. That’s true in education, so why not in your professional life?”
With her Clarity coach, Stacy, Alisa considered her long-term vision, evaluated her value proposition, and explored her options. She learned that, in addition to using her engineering, diving, robotics, science, tech and research backgrounds, she wanted to be in the Pacific Northwest near the ocean.
Next, with Lori, her career consultant, Alisa learned to rework her LinkedIn profile, leverage her network and social media, and tailor her resume in different ways.
“Applications were the hard part because of the complexity of my resume. I leaned heavily on Lori initially, but eventually I became more independent in my job search.”
Alisa appreciated all that she learned from Lori.
“Signing on with The Barrett Group didn’t mean letting someone else find me a job. It meant acquiring the tools to do the work myself,” said Alisa. “Sure, it’s nice to have someone else do the work, but I think we all know that the easy path is not usually the best path.”
When Alisa launched her job search, she initially got a huge response from recruiters, but the pandemic soon hit its peak and things went quiet. Ironically, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“I was really nervous, and I probably would have jumped at the first job offer I got instead of waiting for the best job for me,” said Alisa. “Lori encouraged me to hold off and fine tune my search,” said Alisa.
Alisa narrowed her focus and resolved to find to a job that would marry all her talents. If not, she would pursue a PhD that would do the same and then start a company to realize her dream job. Using what she called “the TBG approach,” Alisa reached out to companies that seemed out of her league to get guidance on industry trends and how to design a practicable PhD program.
It was the perfect strategy.
“I had over 30 informational interviews with a number of companies,” said Alisa. “What started as a request for guidance on an educational program at one of those companies, a commercial diving and salvage company based in Seattle, became the initial steps in creating the job that I now have.”
“They gave me a blank slate and asked me to make a proposal out of high-level ideas and needs they had that incorporated technology into diving. I was invited to present it to senior executives at the parent company and, ultimately, to design the job I’ve been hired into.”
Alisa is thrilled with her new career.
“The job I have now includes everything I wanted – every aspect! The diversity of what they do is top-notch, and their integrity aligns with mine. I found the unicorn!” said Alisa.
For Alisa, the most valuable part of the TBG program was learning to believe in herself and seeing the value that she brought to the table.
“The incredible support of Stacy, my Clarity coach, and Lori, my career consultant, really helped me. They made me realize that my dreams were possible,” said Alisa. “There wasn’t a single meeting that I didn’t walk away from feeling uplifted. This wasn’t just career coaching; it was so much more.”
Gian Toro - Success Study
Director of Inventory
Gian Toro was general manager of sourcing for a private, regional auto dealership in the Midwest.
When his company’s management required staff to work from the office during the Covid pandemic, Gian resolved to quit, but first he wanted help finding a better and more challenging position.
Gian learned how to quantify and present his accomplishments to make them attention-grabbing both on his resume and in interviews.
In under three months, Gian was offered a challenging new opportunity as director of inventory for an exciting, virtual auto sales initiative with the potential to make 50% more in compensation.
As general manager of sourcing for a private, regional auto dealership in the Chicago area, Gian Toro oversaw and managed the full lifecycle and profitability of inventory and successfully lead and directed 12 people on his buying team. When the Covid pandemic began, Gian became increasingly frustrated with management for setting a policy requiring staff to work from the office.
“Although I spent 90% of my day behind a computer screen, they wanted my team and me to be in the office every day,” said Gian. “I got a lot of pushback from my team about that, and I had to figure out how to rotate 12 people into and out of the office each day to maintain social distancing. It was a big point of contention and a poorly thought-out policy.”
For peace of mind, Gian decided to leave the company and seek new opportunities closer to family in Charlotte, and possibly in a new industry. Before even launching his search, he resolved to enlist the help of an executive coach.
“Before I got my last job I missed out on a great job in Charlotte in the construction industry. I would have been a strong match for the role, but I flat-out flubbed the interview because of differences in industry nomenclature and because I wasn’t prepared for the kinds of questions they would ask,” said Gian.
This time Gian wanted professional support preparing for interviews and making sure his resume shone. He researched several organizations and settled on The Barrett Group (TBG).
“Once I saw what The Barrett Group offered, that was it. They seemed to have the most complete package,” said Gian.
Gian started with the Clarity Program and found that the results of the DISC personality assessment cemented the suppositions he already had about himself and helped him refine the characteristics of the role he wanted: leadership, design, and implementation.
“I’ve taken other personality assessments, but what I like about DISC is that you can apply the findings to the next step – namely, ‘Are you in the right job?’” said Gian.
Gian met weekly with Sharon Richter, his Clarity coach first.
“I liked working with Sharon. We really connected well. We had insightful conversations and she made it fun to go through stuff that could have been boring and tedious,” said Gian.
In the next phase, Gian got enormous value out of his meetings with his career coach, Lori Chevalier.
“Lori was awesome. I was always excited to meet with her. She really challenged me,” said Gian. “It was hard for me to quantify my accomplishments, but she really pushed me to do it in a clear and concise manner. The change in my resume was like night and day – and I didn’t embellish a thing! To a hiring manager it popped, rather than being just another piece of paper in the pile.”
Gian also credits Lori with excellent interview preparation.
“Interviewing was one of my main concerns,” said Gian. “But Lori taught me how to present myself as more than a guy buying inventory – I am building and training teams, creating processes and procedures, and writing policy.
For Gian, learning how to identify his accomplishments and break down the business impact of those accomplishments was huge.
“I know the value I bring to the table, but quantifying it into dollars, translating it into a concise resume, and talking it through during an interview is hard. The Barrett Group helped me process all that.”
When Gian officially began letting people know he was looking for a job, things moved very fast.
“I asked a contact of mine for feedback on my resume, and he happened to know of someone who was looking for someone with my experience and skills. Within two weeks we were all connected,” said Gian.
The position was with an auto dealership network to build out a pandemic-induced initiative to buy, sell, and service cars entirely online for customers who don’t want to visit a dealership at all. Gian’s role would be to buy cars, develop teams, and manage inventory in a way that limits physical points of contact between people.
Gian had multiple interviews with various people over several weeks at the end of which he was offered the position.
“I was looking to get out of the auto industry because I was looking for a new challenge. But this challenge is big enough to entice me to stay. Plus, I can be Covid-conscious and work remotely from wherever I want to. That is huge! Not being 800 miles away from family will be fantastic,” said Gian.
Two months into his new role, Gian couldn’t be happier.
“I would have missed out on this job if I had not hired The Barrett Group,” said Gian. “There was nothing that wasn’t valuable about my experience. Everything played a role in making me ready to land this job. For me to have done so in the time I did…I can’t say enough good things about The Barrett Group.”
James Harris - Success Study
National Sales Manager
James Harris was a sales manager for a contract manufacturer of electronic solutions for the aerospace market.
When a change in senior management produced a shift in culture and vision, James grew disenchanted, but his efforts to find more satisfying employment elsewhere went nowhere.
James learned to use LinkedIn to better advantage, sharpen his executive presence, and tailor discussions to his audience.
James was offered a leadership position as national sales manager in a similar field, at a company with a more appealing culture, and with the potential for a much higher compensation.
James was a business development and sales manager of a small, family-run company that provides manufacturing services of mission-critical electronic solutions to the aerospace market. He led a team of six people in securing and closing multimillion-dollar contracts for U.S. commercial and defense contractors. He handled the entire lifecycle of manufacturing a product from cradle to grave to ensure it was quick, efficient, and satisfactory to the customer.
Three years into his tenure, changes in senior management prompted a shift in culture and vision at the company that didn’t sit well with James. His unhappiness spurred him to look for new employment over the next year. He began using job search sites and putting feelers out to his personal network of contacts.
“At first I was looking to change fields. I wanted to stay in sales, but I explored opportunities in the medical and software industries. I got a few interviews, but they weren’t satisfying and I wasn’t offered any jobs,” said James.
After nearly 10 months of job seeking, James became frustrated by the lack of traction he was getting and enlisted the help of The Barrett Group (TBG).
“I had revised my resume, tweaked my LinkedIn profile, and had impressive education and technical skills. I didn’t know what else I could do on my end to make the connections I wanted to make. So, I decided to get full service professional help,” said James.
James began his TBG experience by undergoing personality assessments in the Clarity program and learning what professional roles align best with his personality.
“I’ve gone through similar training previously, so much of the information I already knew. But it’s useful to be reminded of this kind of information every few years, and I also learned some new stuff,” said James.
In Phase 2 James began meeting weekly with his career consultant, Anne Lipsitz, who coached him on how to present himself in an optimal way to potential employers and how to emphasize his ability to fulfill their needs.
“It was useful to learn how to sell myself – especially my drive and my dedication. In the long run, competitiveness serves you better if you can harness it and utilize it as a professional asset,” said James.
James valued Anne’s help with learning to use LinkedIn better.
“Anne helped me not only with enhancing my LinkedIn profile, but also to navigate it in a way I didn’t previously know how to do,” he said.
She also helped him hone his “It” factor – the characteristics that makes someone really stand out as an executive.
“Anne had a career in sales, so she offered me a lot of advice on confidence, professionalism, and presentation. We discussed the importance of knowing who you’re speaking to – for example, if I’m talking to a CFO or a COO, I should keep in mind the different drivers or goals those individuals have with respect to their company,” said James. “From a career perspective, it definitely helped me a lot.”
Before long, James saw more responses to his efforts to build social capital, which translated into an increase in interview requests.
“I had become more visible in the market,” he said.
After three months working through the TBG program, James felt confident enough in his job search to resign from his job. He got some job offers, but turned them down as he waited for the right opportunity. Eventually, it came.
A recruiter for an electronic contract manufacturing company came across his profile on LinkedIn and reached out to him about a leadership position in the same field. After a number of Zoom calls with the owner and other key players of the company and a day touring their site, they offered James a job.
James feels that this position offers him more responsibility and more opportunity for growth.
“It checked most of my boxes and the time was right,” said James. “I like the direction the company is going. Also, the culture and the leadership of the company are very attractive. I’m very excited.”
Imran - Success Study
President & CEO
Imran was president and CEO of a software startup that used AI in the production of interactive video technology.
After recognizing that his company needed a leader with a different skillset than he offered, Imran left, but he sought help thinking through his next career move.
With his coach, Imran evaluated the work environments in which he is happiest and most successful, then he leveraged his social capital to find professional opportunities that best suited him.
Imran’s efforts produced two excellent offers, and he ultimately opted for the position as president of a small health-tech company that jibed better with his personal goals.
As president and CEO of a small tech startup, Imran worked at finding a market opportunity to commercialize the company’s innovative, interactive video technology. After nearly one year on the job, however, the company’s efforts struggled to gain market traction. Disappointed but realistic, Imran concluded that the business needed a different skillset than he offered and stepped down from his operations role.
When Imran left, he hadn’t yet formulated a new plan. His experience at the company made him introspective, and he wanted to reflect on why the company hadn’t performed as he’d hoped it would before he made his next move. He also wanted help figuring out how best to move forward.
“I had never tried to find a job on my own. Throughout my career, I was recruited out of my old job and stayed in my roles for a long time. I never built that job seeking muscle,” said Imran. “I needed help. I needed a sounding board – a coach to help me consider my next steps.”
That’s when Imran got in touch with The Barrett Group (TBG). He liked that what TBG offered, unlike recruiters he had worked with in the past, was a focus on him and his needs.
“A recruiter’s main interest is helping clients fill positions, not finding a good fit for me or getting me oriented in my career journey,” said Imran.
Although he was eager to get back to work, Imran valued the opportunity with the Clarity Program to pause and evaluate himself holistically – his strengths, his weaknesses, his family values, and in what types of companies and roles he is happiest and most successful.
“I saw the Clarity Program as an opportunity to hit the reset button,” said Imran.
Clarity reaffirmed for Imran several things: He enjoys the tech industry, he prefers the culture of small to midsize companies, and he loves the challenge of leading a team in a startup environment.
Imran also learned how to view his previous job as a learning experience and draw lessons on how he might have done things differently.
“Sometimes outcomes don’t pan out the way you want them to,” said Imran. “I learned not to measure myself by one failed experience because I came to realize that if I’ve never failed at something, maybe I haven’t been taking enough risks.”
When Imran began working with his career consultant, he really appreciated the program’s structure. First, he worked on his resume, revised his LinkedIn profile, then he built up his social capital by reconnecting with many old contacts in his network.
“I don’t really need an accountability partner, but I did like the accountability. I found that forcing myself to a schedule of weekly calls with Greg was helpful,” said Imran. “And the exercise of reaching out to people I hadn’t spoken to in six or seven years was really good. Very few of them resulted in a professional connection, but part of it is having lines in the water. You never know where the next opportunity will come from.”
Because Imran was targeting C-level roles, he faced unique limitations that other jobseekers don’t.
“At my level, there just aren’t as many opportunities out there, and people don’t advertise for CEO roles with a job ad,” said Imran.
When Covid hit a month after activating his job search, Imran enjoyed a stroke of luck. His social outreach efforts yielded an offer for a 6-month consulting gig at a large, public software company with the potential to go full-time after three months.
He liked the work and the people at the large firm, but when they offered him an attractive full-time position three months later, he wasn’t sure what to do. He and his career consultant, Greg, discussed it at length.
“I knew I should look for other opportunities to make sure I was making the right choice, so I reached back out to my network,” said Imran.
This time, Imran was recommended to a small tech company in the health field that was looking for a CEO. It was a long, but successful, interview process, and Imran soon found himself with a choice of two great opportunities.
But choosing was not an easy decision.
“Greg helped me prepare for the interviews for both jobs. And when I had to choose between these opportunities, he helped me think it through. He was a good sounding board,” said Imran.
Imran also reached out to his Clarity coach for her opinion.
“Hiyam Wakeem was great. She was so helpful to me at the outset, and when I called for her advice she was gracious and walked me through the pros and cons,” said Imran.
Ultimately, Imran opted for the larger role at the smaller company, knowing it was a better fit.
“I’ve never worked in healthcare before, so intellectually it’s been challenging,” said Imran. “From many standpoints it’s been great. I’m really enjoying it.”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com
André - Success Study
Chief Financial and Operations Officer
André was CFO and COO for a Washington DC-based trade association.
André’s position was eliminated after a major reorganization, but after 15 years in his position, his job seeking efforts were unsuccessful and he needed help.
André learned how to discern what employers are looking for, tailor each application, assertively follow up on every prospect, and say as much as – and no more than – was necessary.
After just two months working with The Barrett Group, André was quickly recruited as CFO and COO of a nonprofit organization with an “amazing” mission.
As chief financial officer and chief operating officer for a $15 million international nonprofit, André strategized and directed operations of the finance and administration departments. He concurrently served as the CFO and COO of an affiliate nonprofit in the last two years of his 15-year employment there. Due to a reorganization, André’s position was eliminated in early 2020.
André was stunned but undaunted. He wasted no time pounding the pavement. He reached out to contacts, connected with recruiters, updated his resume and sent applications. He was unsuccessful in landing a job, however, for two main reasons. First, he had little job seeking practice – he’d been 15 years at the same organization, and before that he had always relied on a recruiter friend to facilitate his career transitions. Second, two weeks after losing his job, the Covid pandemic befell the country.
“After six months I’d sent out 150 resumes and got only eight interviews. I thought I was the perfect fit for some of those opportunities and managed to get into the final round of interviews, but I was never offered a job. At first, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was clearly doing something wrong,” said André.
Because he had little luck on his own, André decided to go with Plan B – engaging with an outplacement service. He reached out to The Barrett Group (TBG). He was convinced that TBG could help him market himself better, but before committing to the program he waited to see how things would pan out with three organizations at which he was actively interviewing.
“Those interview processes stretched out over three months! I thought I was getting somewhere but, ultimately, they all fell through. That’s when I signed on with The Barrett Group,” said André.
André started by launching into TBG’s Clarity Program.
“I started by doing an assessment of who I am and what I’m looking for,” said André. “It was very valuable. It reinforced that my career path makes sense for me, but it also identified other industry options for me that I’d never considered, like art or the entertainment industry. It was eye-opening.”
After about two weeks André was ready to work with his career consultant, Jerry.
“The first thing we did was deconstruct and then reconstruct my resume. It looked completely different from how it looked before, and it presented me so much better,” said André. “For example, I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years, so I stripped out all the stuff that might put me at risk of ageism. Also, whatever the title of the position I was applying for is what I put at the top of my resume. I had six or seven versions of my resume.”
Next, Jerry helped André with mock interviews.
“Jerry broke down what I needed to work on and how to be more concise,” said André. “I had developed an interview script for myself when I was job seeking on my own, but Jerry helped me tighten it up. I had thought I should provide detailed responses, but he told me to limit my comments to 30 seconds because after that interviewers aren’t listening. My working mantra was ‘More than a soundbite, less than a narrative.’”
André really valued how Jerry taught him to understand what hiring managers are looking for and to market himself specifically to the position he was applying for.
“You need to treat each potential employer as a unique entity. That was very educational!” said André.
And though he thought he was already assertive, Jerry made André even more so, urging André to carefully craft cover letters, send follow-up letters strategically, and anticipate job vacancies and apply for them before the jobs go public – the better to get his foot in the door at one stage or another.
“Things went quickly once I signed on with The Barrett Group,” said Andre.
André learned from Jerry that there was a lot more to do on the job seeking front than he had been doing on his own.
In the end, André didn’t need to do a lot. Within a few short weeks after signing on with TBG, André spotted a job posting that appealed to him – a position for chief financial and operations office at a 40-year old charitable foundation. He sent an application.
“I heard back from the recruiter 40 minutes after sending the application!” said André. “We set up a call to discuss the position and then she forwarded my credentials to the executive director. She wanted to talk to me even though she was on vacation.”
André went through several rounds of interviews and was offered a job within five weeks over the year-end holiday season. He’s excited by the amazing mission of his new employer and is thrilled to start the next chapter of his career.
“The Barrett Group got me over the hump. Jerry, in particular, was a wealth of information. I would recommend him and The Barrett Group to anyone. I’m one for one after working with The Barrett Group. I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence!”
Matt Fretwell - Success Study
Director of Operations
Matt Fretwell was an entrepreneur who wore many hats: adjunct professor, author, church starter, pastor, and leadership and life coach.
After a long career starting successful businesses, Matt was facing burnout. He wanted to find one position that would fulfill his many passions, but he didn’t know what role that might be.
Matt got enormous value from being pushed to honestly assess his values in the Clarity Program and aligning them with his talents to develop a more fulfilling, strategic career plan.
Matt proposed creating a director of operations position to a startup nonprofit where he volunteered as a life coach, negotiating a graduated compensation plan they could grow into.
A self-professed visionary and innovator, Matt Fretwell had spent 20 years following his passions and creating successes out of just about everything he put his hand to. A talented chef, he launched his entrepreneurial career as owner and operator of several acclaimed restaurants. Later, his faith led him to create non-profit ministries, found and revitalize churches, develop doctorate-level training programs for other church starters, and pen multiple inspiring books. His depth and range of experience made Matt a sought-after consultant about leadership, ministry, and community engagement for many organizations.
Matt loved what he did, but over time, the challenges of juggling so many roles in his career began to wear him down. Facing burnout, Matt decided to make a change. He wanted to channel his gifts and talents into one position that would both pay the bills and fulfill his many passions.
“I was getting tired of having multiple streams of income. It’s a lot of work shifting gears,” said Matt. “I felt a push to transition to the business side of altruism and thought that a C-suite level position in the nonprofit world might align well with my gifting and talents.”
Matt knew well his strengths and interests: restoring humanity, community outreach, public speaking, strategic organization, and leadership, to name a few. He also knew, however, that finding a position that utilized all his qualities would be difficult. So, he enlisted professional help.
“I wanted to make a shift and do it right, so I figured I needed a team,” said Matt. “The Navy SEALs have a saying: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with a team.’ I chose longevity.”
It was humbling at first for Matt to be on the receiving end of coaching sessions because he was used to being the person administering consulting services to others. He was astonished to discover how much his thinking developed when he yielded to the process.
“The Barrett Group really exceeded my initial expectations. I thought I’d just need their help locating a good fit at the income level I was seeking. I didn’t expect to need help in personality assessment, but I was fooling myself. My coach, Ken Malouf, really challenged me to be honest and transparent about my values and goals. Those discussions revealed a lot about how I could follow my inclinations,” said Matt. “Sometimes it is beneficial for us to swallow our pride and recognize that we need a fresh set of eyes to look at our situation.”
Over four weeks Matt took various assessments. Then he and his coach worked together to identify goals that align with Matt’s talents and values and create a long-term personal strategic plan.
“It was eye-opening. You think you know yourself, but I learned that I have some deep-seated values that I was pushing away. This was partly why I was burning out. Ken would dig deeper and uncover things that I hadn’t put on paper. He’s got a great talent!”
Matt was equally appreciative of his coaching experience when he moved onto Phase 2.
“I really enjoyed working with Lori Chevalier. There is a lot you learn in this second phase, much of it about social media,” said Matt. “I had always thought of myself as an experienced networker – I have thousands of connections on LinkedIn and Facebook – but I’d always been on the side of helping others. It was uncomfortable for me to be in the position of asking someone else for help. But I went with it.”
Matt also really valued how Lori pushed him to use metrics in his interviews, negotiations, and resume. What he thought had been a really good resume was not actually the case, so “reconstructing” his resume was highly beneficial. When he began shopping it around to recruiters, his inbox blew up with responses.
The Covid crisis hit in the middle of Matt’s job search and dampened recruiter interest, but he continued to use LinkedIn to find appealing opportunities and leverage his connections to develop an “in”, having faith in the process.
Matt was aiming for a C-suite level position at a nonprofit or a small business with an altruistic mission. He thought he might have found the right fit with a cancer foundation where he interviewed for a director of operations position. They wanted him to raise $5 million for their organization and he knew he could do it. But something felt off.
“I wish I could do for Salvage USA what this potential employer wants me to do,” Matt told his wife. He was referring to a startup nonprofit organization that engages emotionally-scarred military personnel in restorative, community-focused activities. As a volunteer life coach at Salvage USA, the organization had become near and dear to his heart. To his surprise, his wife suggested he talk to the team at Salvage about it.
As luck would have it, the founder of Salvage quickly recognized the value to his organization of bringing Matt on as a director of operations. He didn’t have the money to pay Matt much, but Matt proposed that he work largely on an incentive basis the first year, taking a percentage of any new money he might bring in, rather than a straight salary.
“He took my proposal to the board and they agreed!” said Matt. “That came about through the coaching I got with Ken and Lori. I utilized all the things I’d learned. It was comprehensive.”
Just two weeks into his new job, Matt is loving the challenge and a renewed sense of purpose from helping a cause he deeply admires.
“I’ve already submitted a half a million dollars in grant proposals to 12 different organizations. I have even more lined up. In the end, if I do my job well, it will more than pay itself off. I would have not have taken this position, with a compensation incentive like this, if not for The Barrett Group. They have given me confidence that I can do this!”