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approach he wanted: 1) Help with reflecting on the best roles and companies for him, and 2) Help with tapping into the unpublished job market.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!”