Manager, HSE Business Unit: Kwasi Asare
Leveraging social capital
“If I had known years ago what I learned from The Barrett Group, it might have set my career path in a very different direction.”
Kwasi Asare was director of corporate safety at a firm that provides construction, maintenance and engineering support to the energy industry.
After reaffirming his personal and professional goals, Kwasi built his network of contacts and leveraged them to ensure his resume was seen by hiring managers.
Kwasi’s job was eliminated when Covid forced his company to restructure, but after 20 years at the company, he needed help navigating today’s employment market.
Kwasi accepted a position as a business unit manager of a large company with good upward potential, and he managed to sweeten the compensation through negotiation.
“This education was invaluable. Going forward, I’m going to utilize the skills I’ve learned and leverage my social capital – not necessarily to find a job, but because that’s how opportunities come about.”
As director of corporate safety at a large holding company that constructs and maintains equipment for the energy industry, Kwasi Asare led safety management for several business units, and he was the point man for standardizing processes and implementing best practices. A 20-year veteran of the company, Kwasi was unprepared for unemployment when the Covid crisis forced corporate restructuring upon the company, eliminating his position.
“I’d never been terminated or laid off. The next day I figured I should get moving to find a new job,” said Kwasi. “I threw together my resume and sent it to people I had worked with in the past. I started applying to places and I signed up for help from a bunch of executive search firms. I just jumped into it, ignorant of the process. It was not a coordinated or focused approach.”
It was in this way that Kwasi stumbled across The Barrett Group (TBG). His initial interest in TBG’s program was tepid at first because he “just wanted someone to find a job” for him. The more he learned about the model, however – TBG doesn’t find you a job, they teach you a proven methodology to find a job yourself – he decided to give it a try.
“It seemed weird to plunk down a lot of money after just losing my job,” said Kwasi. “But after I reflected more on it, it became clear that this would be an investment in myself. I wanted to advance higher than the director level and possibly transition out of my industry, and this seemed to provide me the option to explore new opportunities and think outside the box.”
Kwasi started by doing a deep dive into his personal values through TBG’s Clarity Program and assessing what he wanted from his career.
“The goal is to explore things that are related not only to work, but also to family, life balance, and geography,” said Kwasi. “If you don’t have that focus on what you’re looking for personally and career wise, it sets you back during your job search.”
While there were no “aha” moments, the Clarity process did illuminate one thing for Kwasi: A career transition is an ideal time to move closer to family, so geography became an important factor in his job search.
The next phase of the program was an exceedingly beneficial lesson for Kwasi about career management.
“I knew about LinkedIn, but I didn’t know how to utilize second- and third-degree connections. I didn’t understand the importance of cultivating relationships and leveraging them to get internal support when applying for a position,” said Kwasi. “Without some kind of internal advocacy, it’s hard to get past the automatic resume screening process.”
Kwasi spent a lot of time developing his LinkedIn network by reaching out to people he hadn’t talked to in years and rebuilding those relationships.
“I realized how poor form it was at first for me to send out my resume to people before I bothered to catch up with them,” said Kwasi. “I learned that from the Barrett Group. Once you genuinely build a connection with people, they often help you with a job search without your asking.”
It wasn’t long before Kwasi mastered how to circumvent traditional job-hunting practices.
“If there is a place you want to work, you first go to LinkedIn and research your connections to find people who work there. Once you figure out the six-degrees of separation, you can ping-pong your way to the top of the list and, possibly, into an interview,” said Kwasi. “You may not get the job, but at least your resume isn’t getting dumped into the trash.”
Leveraging his social capital in this way is exactly how Kwasi ultimately landed his next job. A few weeks after reconnecting with a business acquaintance that he hadn’t talked to in 10 years, the colleague called Kwasi to tell him about an opportunity as a safety manager of a business unit at a large firm on the east coast that might be a good fit. He even offered Kwasi a glowing referral.
The position wasn’t the promotion Kwasi wanted, but it is close to family, which was one of his main goals, and it’s a good job at a bigger company with opportunity for growth, which he didn’t have before. During the hiring process, Kwasi managed to negotiate a higher base salary, a better relocation reimbursement, and a signing bonus.
For Kwasi, even better than his new job is the education he got from the TBG program. In hindsight, he says, his TBG experience made him realize that, previously, he had not been maximizing his potential.
“Looking back, I should have left my former job a while ago. This whole experience really helped me take inventory of things in my career,” said Kwasi. “For 20 years I never thought about leaving the company. I never tested the landscape. That’s horrible! If I had known years ago what I learned from TBG, it might have set my career path in a very different direction.”
Kwasi plans to make the most of the investment he’s made in his career.
“This education was invaluable,” Kwasi said. “Going forward, I’m going to utilize the skills I’ve learned and leverage my social capital – not necessarily to find a job, but because that’s how opportunities come about.”
“If you don’t have focus on what you’re looking for personally and career wise, it sets you back during your job search.”
“It seemed weird to plunk down a lot of money after just losing my job. But after I reflected more on it, it became clear that this would be an investment in myself.”