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.”
Mike - Success Study
Mike was managing director for a management consulting firm that specialized in helping companies innovate.
Management Consulting, Financial Services
When business dried up at Mike’s firm in the wake of the pandemic, he needed to find another opportunity and wanted help navigating the challenging job market.
Mike focused his goals, rewrote his resume, built up his LinkedIn network, and sharpened his interview skills.
After a long job search with few leads, Mike was offered an incredible opportunity at an exciting startup as CFO – a role he’d never undertaken before.
Mike was managing director overseeing the entire Americas region for a small, UK-based innovation advisory firm. He started working there less than a year before the pandemic began. The role of Mike and his team was to find large corporations with areas of strategic need and pair them up with startups that had emerging technologies that could meet those needs. He loved his job, but the business couldn’t weather the pandemic shutdown – innovation programs moved to the backburner for many corporations and Mike saw business dry up. Mike’s job became tenuous, so, even as he soldiered on in his role, he started looking to transition to something else.
“I thought 2020 was going to be my year. We had a pipeline of clients and then Covid came and it was like a bomb exploded,” said Mike. “I continued working through 2020, but I had realized in March that I’d need a Plan B.”
Before he’d taken this job, Mike worked for a large financial services firm, where he’d worked for 18 years. So, he decided, to do his job search right, his best course was to hire a coach. He chose The Barrett Group because it offered the two-pronged approach he wanted: 1) Help with reflecting on the best roles and companies for him, and 2) Help with tapping into the unpublished job market.
“The Clarity Program was good. Everyone should go through this experience as a checkpoint in their career. I really wanted to find a job that I could stay with for the rest of my career. It made me dig deep and think about what would excite me and what I might want to avoid in a new employer,” said Mike.
For Mike, Clarity confirmed some things. He really liked working with innovative programs, and he wanted to continue that. In addition, he no longer wanted to work for a big company; he’d rather be at a small or mid-size company because they are nimbler. Naturally, there are risks associated with that, but Mike also realized that he is a calculated risk-taker.
Mike transitioned to his career consultant next, and worked through all the steps of TBG’s program, starting with reworking his resume, refining his LinkedIn profile, and strengthening his network of contacts.
“It was a lot of work, but George was wonderful. He is very seasoned, has a lot of war stories and gave me great advice. George was a great mentor. He was very detail-oriented, kept me on track, and was very patient whenever I got caught up with something and took time to follow up with him,” said Mike. “I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Mike particularly appreciated the help George gave him in preparing for interviews.
“In the practice questions, George made me realize that I needed to change my answers. He helped me prepare better responses for what a hiring manager would want to hear and put my best foot forward.”
When it came time for Mike to focus on pursuing leads in the unpublished market, he became a little overwhelmed by the long list of leads he was offered.
He discussed the situation with his career consultant, who worked with Mike to tighten the focus of his target companies and produce a more manageable list.
Despite his efforts, Mike didn’t have an easy job search. For months, he had no interviews. Mike was shooting for a VP or C-level role in a small to mid-level organization and, although he understood that the higher the level of the role, the fewer the positions there are available, he began to worry.
“I started to wonder whether there was something wrong with my resume or with my candidacy,” said Mike. “George kept telling me to keep doing what I was doing and I would land.”
Things got really quiet during the holidays. But in January 2021 Mike got a text from a former colleague who sat on the board of a financial services startup that needed a CFO. She wanted to chat.
“At first I thought she was asking whether I knew someone else who would be good for the role because I’d never been a CFO before. She laughed and told me that she knew that I had a lot of experience in financial services, I know financial rules and legislations, and I understand how things should operate from a customer’s standpoint. She thought I’d be a great fit,” said Mike.
After that conversation Mike met with the company’s founder. The two discussed candidly that Mike would not be a “traditional CFO.” After meeting a few more times, however, the founder grew to feel that the range of Mike’s experience was exactly what his company would need a few years down the road and that Mike was the best person to scale the organization as it grew.
Within about a month of the initial text, Mike was hired.
“I really like my new job. I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked, but I think we are building something really special, and a lot of people are excited about the product we are developing,” said Mike. “We are hoping to go public soon. I think this could be really big!”
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com