Kia Banisadre – Success Study

Vice President of Sales and Business Development

Client: Kia Banisadre served as an acute care consultant for a large healthcare platform based in Dallas that develops value-based healthcare payment programs.

Industry: Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Hospitals, Veterinary

Function: Optimization, Operations, Consulting, Sales & Marketing, Business Development

Challenge: After getting laid off for the third time, Kia wanted to learn how to gain more control over his career.

Process: During the exercise of “paying it forward” to people in his network, one professional contact proposed an unusual opportunity to Kia that was a great match for his skillset – and one he never imagined doing.

Landing: Kia was invited to develop a new division, as VP of sales and business development, for an accounting firm that had identified a lucrative new market in the veterinary services world.

Study: As an acute care consultant for a large healthcare platform based in Dallas, Kia Banisadre consulted with hospital groups and post-acute care facilities on how to get better patient outcomes while saving money. During a reorganization, which involved a mass layoff, however, Kia found himself out of a job.

“This is the third time in a row for me to get laid off,” said Kia. “I decided then that I needed to have more control over my career.”

For Kia, there was a silver lining to getting laid off. He’d come to realize that many of the responsibilities he had been tasked to do didn’t play to his strengths. He’d spent most of his career doing sales and business development or running entire sales divisions, and he resolved to get back to his roots.

To Kia’s surprise, it didn’t go well.

“It was interesting. I couldn’t land a sales job in pharma. All the hiring managers told me that I was up against people with 10-15 years of experience. By comparison, I had four years running entire sales divisions and a decade of selling deals worth millions of dollars in the healthcare field. That kind of work involves selling products to doctors that cost a lot of money and present a far greater risk to them than asking them to try a new medication for their patients. Yet, despite my success in far more challenging sales environments with the same customer base, the hiring managers couldn’t seem to appreciate that and never considered me a serious candidate for pharma sales. It was really frustrating to be considered under-qualified for jobs that I was more than qualified to do.”

Four months into his job search, Kia still didn’t have a job. Initially, he hadn’t been interested in pursuing executive jobs because he had gotten burned out by them earlier in his career. However, when a few recruiters began reaching out to him about executive opportunities, he had a change of heart.

“That is what led me to The Barrett Group [TBG]. Once I realized I still have a passion for leading a team and shaping business strategy, I decided to partner with someone who would look out for me and my interests in my job search,” said Kia.

Kia started his TBG experience with the Clarity Program and enjoyed it enormously.

“Clarity was incredibly eye-opening to me. I loved it! My coach, Lisa Levesque, had very positive energy and was so helpful. I had never taken the time to do a deep dive into myself and explore what I am really looking for. Things are so much easier after that,” said Kia. “The Clarity exercises focused me. Before I started the program, I was considering numerous things that I might do. By the time I finished, it was really clear to me what I wanted to do.”

Kia’s focus was to get an executive role in sales or business development, one that allowed him to be in a hybrid working environment, and one that allowed him to talk to people versus being behind a screen all day. Within two weeks, he was ready to begin work toward that goal with his career consultant, George Schulz.

“George has been wonderful. He really gets to know you and what you’re looking for, and he is always responsive.”

With George, Kia worked a lot on interviewing skills.

“Working with George was super helpful. I gave answers to sample interview questions and George gave great feedback, saying whether they were too short or long, good or bad, and how best to respond to tricky questions.”

The two also covered a lot of information about LinkedIn.

“My opinion of LinkedIn has changed so much after doing these Barrett Group exercises. I didn’t used to think much of LinkedIn, but now I think that if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re not serious!”

When it came to social capital building exercises, Kia initially had doubts. Not only was it more work than he expected, but also, he questioned their value.

“One exercise was to call people I know and trust and offer my expertise to them. I asked George, ‘Is this a mistake?’ Everyone I know well already knows what I do, and they know that I’m always willing to help them. So why would I call them to tell them something they already know?”

Kia did what he was asked, though, and he soon learned two important lessons. First, his assumptions about his friends were not necessarily correct. Second, the point of the exercise was as much to trigger fresh conversations with his friends as it was to offer them help.

“I was surprised to find that my friends didn’t really know what my expertise is. I assumed they knew what I do, but they didn’t!” said Kia. “We ended up having some really good conversations.”

One discussion with a close friend turned out to be Kia’s ticket to a brand-new career in an industry he never imagined working in.

“My friend told me he wanted to expand his business and needed accounting help. So, I told him I would refer him to a former colleague who runs an accounting firm. When I reached out to the colleague, he and I started catching up. Then he told me about some interesting market trends in the veterinary industry that his firm had benefited from. He had gotten several referrals for some high-margin business deals and wanted my advice about whether hiring a salesperson might help him to get more.”

Kia offered his perspective and, before long, Kia’s colleague asked whether Kia would consider helping him build out a sales program for his firm and, eventually, a department to capitalize on this attractive new market opportunity. Ultimately, Kia was hired as VP of sales and business development.

“I didn’t think of my conversation with my accounting friend as an interview, but that is the power of being well prepared. An interview feels like a conversation. Next thing you know, I have a job that I love that plays to my strengths! I have a leadership and administrative role, building out a department and processes, and I also get to be in the field, talking to people. I could not have asked for a better fit! The only difference is that I am in veterinary healthcare, not human healthcare. I’m really enjoying it!”

After landing, Kia thought that his TBG program was finished, but he was pleasantly surprised to find otherwise.

“Even though I’ve landed, it hasn’t been the end of my TBG services. George has been great about suggesting ways that TBG can be helpful even now that I have a job. I feel like I still have someone in my corner.”

Because Kia is in sales, George offered to provide him with a TBG-generated lead list of veterinary practices.

“Within three days, The Barrett Group provided me with a list of veterinary practices with owner names and phone numbers throughout all the states that I requested. It was amazing! I’m soon going to have a client meeting with a guy in Florida that I never would have reached out to without these lists. Having that information is creating so much efficiency for me. I can’t emphasize enough how important that is for someone who is brand new to an executive leadership role.”

Within two months of joining TBG, Kia had landed a brand-new career, and he couldn’t be happier.

“Engaging The Barrett Group has been well worth it. I wanted to find the exact job I wanted but I didn’t even know what the exact job might be. I certainly never considered that it would be in a completely different industry!” said Kia. “How much you put behind your slogan ‘We are here to help’ is not just lip service – the value you give back to clients is probably more than clients anticipate they will get.”
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