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2018 November Career Management: The Nonprofit World - a Discussion with a Veteran CFO Panel
November 6

Larry Kramer, long-time FEI member and a managing partner of Foundation Management Associates, led a discussion on “A View of The Nonprofit World and Discussion from a Veteran CFO Panel.” The panel consisted of Janice O’Reilly, partner and head of AAFCPA’s Managed Accounting Solutions practice, Tim Barrett, CFO of Pine Street Inn, David Noymer, CFO of Greater Boston Food Bank and Leigh Tucker, Principal at CliftonLarsonAllen. The discussion covered the panel’s perspectives on how they arrived in the sector, skills needed, accounting and operating characteristics of nonprofits and advice for those looking to move from for profit to nonprofit.

Background and Motivation

The panelists’ paths into the sector varied. Janice and Leigh had experience with nonprofits through their previous audit clients and/or board positions. Dave was recruited based upon his transferrable skills as prior CFO for several service companies. Tim had obtained an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship and, after working several years in public companies, was looking for a more highly mission-driven organization.

Advice for Transitioning to a Nonprofit Organization

Do the research. Conduct informational interviews. Understand the culture, challenges and mission. Review public filings such as form 990’s. Educate yourself on the technical terms and accounting rules applicable to nonprofits, particularly with respect to accounting for gifts and grants. Don’t refer to the organization as a “company” in the interview if it is an Institution.

Be realistic. Some organizations may insist that you have prior nonprofit experience. In this case you would need to have either direct experience or possibly experience as a board member or service provider to nonprofits. Others may only require sector (i.e. education, health care, etc.) or functional (strategy, operations, etc.) experience. In this case, be able to demonstrate how your background/skills align with their needs. Don’t assume the job will be “easier” than your previous job as many nonprofits have limited resources. The staffing levels, physical facilities and work pace may surprise you. Make sure the organization’s mission aligns with your personal values.

Governance. Expect more shared responsibility among management and larger boards. Consequently, decisions may take longer. Anticipate extended lead times to complete major initiatives.

Our next event will be a panel discussion on December 4. The topic is “Redefining Yourself; Redirecting Your Career” moderated by Beth Kurth, Partner, Conway Communications. We hope to see you there.

2018 October Career Management:  How Your WHY Affects Your Job and Your Career

October 9, 2018

Brendon Davis, President of the Davis Companies, presented “How Your Why Affects Your Job and Career.” This talk was inspired by a movement started in 2009 by Simon Sinek to help people become more inspired at work and to inspire their colleagues and customers. For over two years Brendon has been talking about how to apply the principles of determining what motivates you to your job search and career.


The underlying theme of Brendon’s presentation was the “if you can identify your WHY statement, you will be better able to connect your core values with those of the company you are targeting,” Similarly, companies make more successful hiring decisions when they can attract employees with the same core values.


Brendan provided a roadmap for achieving this connection that included:

·       Building Your Story

·       Identifying Channels to Share Your Story

·       Ensuring the Target Company is Authentic


Building Your Story – First identify your core values, Then, weave those values into the conversation. This can often be accomplished by establishing “connection points” or personal experiences that resonate with the listener, be it a networking connection or interviewer. Create your WHY statement and incorporate that statement into the resume.


Identifying Channels – Begin with your internal network; family, friends, former co-workers. Develop an effective digital footprint (e.g. LinkedIn) and make sure the core values presented are consistent with your resume.  Proactively identify companies to target and tell your story. Develop an effective interview strategy that includes playing to strengths and being authentic. Do your homework and ask great questions. When sending follow up thank you notes, reference specific topics that were discussed. This will help demonstrate your authenticity.


Ensure the Company is Authentic – Learn how the company engages with its people on the critical matters such as shared responsibility, continuous communication, advancement opportunities and staff development. 


Brendon’s presentation was highly interactive and well-received by the audience. An extended networking session followed the presentation.




Susan Peppercorn, executive transition coach, positive workplace partner, and author “Ditch Your Inner Critic At Work:  Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career” led an interactive discussion about how to stay positive during a job search.


Early in her discussion with the attendees she gave an example of someone who needed to focus on moving forward, shifting from leaving his anger about a job loss to being resilient that would support networking activities in a positive manner as he pursued his next opportunity.


Susan reviewed the following concepts:


·        Understanding and accepting the emotional phases during a job loss

·        Techniques to shorten the phases of transition

·        The importance of being resilient


Understanding and accepting the emotional phases during a job loss


You need to understand and accept that there are numerous emotional phases during a job loss.  It is not uncommon for a person to take one step forward then two steps backward during the emotional phases of a job loss.  In some situations, it can be a challenge to avoid repeating multiple times one for more emotional phases during a job loss.  To shorten the phases of transition, you need to adopt new “habits”.


Techniques to shorten the phases of transition – “Learn” - “Practice” - “Cultivate”


Each of us is unique.  Each of us has different strengths.  To help maintain a positive mindset, it important to focus on what is “right” about you - identify your character strengths.  Then you need to keep in mind that it is human nature to focus on negative events – what is “wrong” about you.  Resist the temptation to focus on negative events.  Instead consider creating one or more new “habits” such as implementing a technique to maintain a positive mindset by writing down each day the three most positive events that occurred that day.  Continuing that theme, you should consider reviewing the list of positive events for the week to build a positive mindset.  After practicing this technique for a few months, it will become natural and eventually a new “habit” that supports a positive mindset.  Regardless of your age, everyone can learn new “habits”.


The importance of being resilient


Each of us experiences success and failure. 

-You need to ask yourself:  What is your approach to “bounce back” quickly (AKA be resilient)?

-Do you focus on facts when assessing a situation related to your job search?  Do you make assumptions, especially negative assumptions when assessing a situation related to your job search? 

-For example, if someone said they would respond to your email, but did not respond or responded late do you make negative assumptions about the reason without knowing the facts? 

-Is the event that occurred the problem or how you interpreted it? Is there another way to look at it?

-How do you improve & experience transition growth (i.e., learn while shifting from “pain” to “growth”)?


Focus on “Who I am and Who I want to be”?  Do you need to “rewire” your brain (i.e., new “habits”)?


Developing a positive resilient mindset will serve you well in your job search!

2018 July Career Management:
“HR: Working With, Through, and Around During Your Job Search”  

Larry Stybel, a licensed doctoral level psychologist and a national expert on leadership, moderated a distinguished panel of senior-level HR professionals. The panel included Al Barese, Lanning Levine and Susan McCuaig.  The session was highly interactive with group exercises and much Q&A. Larry kicked off the discussion by reminding the audience that the program was particularly relevant on three levels; while in transition job seekers must interact with HR, HR may report to them in the new job and Finance works closely with HR in most organizations.

Key takeaways:

Develop a Relationship

HR’s role in filling positions is overwhelmingly one of “deselection” – to reduce the pile of resumes to a very small size. They are likely to focus on what skills are lacking rather than find reasons to advance you to the next stage. Accordingly, the panel uniformly agreed that it is most important to develop a relationship with the HR contact. In cases for which the HR person is at a junior level (and may not fully understand the job requirement), it is very important research the organization thoroughly to “educate” or “mentor” them. This could earn you some points and potentially offset points lost for not being able to “check all of the skills boxes.”


Identify an Advocate

Develop relationships with recruiters (during and between job searches) so that they can learn enough about you to advocate on your behalf when needed. In addition, try to network into the organization to find someone that can be your advocate from within. This needs to be done thoughtfully and tactfully with a view to avoiding the appearance that you are disrespecting HR. One suggestion is to disclose your relationship with the advocate to HR in advance. The relationship with the internal advocate should be more to develop a dialogue (“soft sell”) than to pressure them to endorse you.


Take Control of the Narrative

Consider the universe of potential objections to your candidacy such as too many job changes, lack of industry experience, questions around why you left your last position, etc. Be prepared to address each objection in a pro-active manner such as “I left a large, stable organization to apply my experience in an early stage situation with potential upside - fully aware of the risks.


The next Career Management event is on Wednesday, September 5 “How to Stay Positive During Your Job Search” featuring Susan Peppercorn, Executive Transition Coach, Positive Workplace Partner. We hope to see you there.   



“Consulting as a Career”

Larry Kramer, managing partner of Foundation Management Associates moderated a panel of highly experienced and successful CFO consultants. The panel consisted of Joe Impellizeri (Richwood Associates), Janice O’Reilly (AAFCPA’s), Chris Thomajan (TechCXO) ad Randy Walther (B2B CFO).

The focus of the discussion was in the following areas: How and why each of them made the decision to pursue consulting, market/niche focus, managing personal bandwidth, pricing model and critical success factors. As the panel addressed each of these areas, it became clear that the definition of “CFO Consultant” is quite broad and can include part-time CFO, project manager, business transition expert, trusted advisor and much more. The panelists also stressed that an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to juggle multiple projects and deliverables are strong predictors of job satisfaction.

While each of the panelists had specific reasons for entering this field, the general themes included financial risk mitigation (diversified portfolio of clients), opportunity to rapidly impact the performance of an organization and intellectual challenge from working in various environments.

Each of the panelists works in multiple industries and brings expertise developed over a long career in multiple organizations. In some cases, their experience was gained within various functional areas (finance, operations, engineering, international). In terms of company size, the target market of the panelists ranged from start-up to $50 -$100 million in revenue.  While some deep subject matter expertise is desirable, it was agreed that their ability to go “a mile wide and an inch deep” was a useful skill and in high demand by clients.

With respect to managing their workloads, the ability to service multiple clients effectively is a function of the scope of each assignment and the availability of other resources (such as employees or subcontractors) to perform some of the required work. Personal preference is also a factor. Some consultants prefer fewer clients that afford deeper engagement with their organization.

In terms of a pricing model, fixed pricing can work but the panelists seemed to generally prefer hourly billing. Under hourly structures, there may be opportunities to flex rates based upon the number of hours per assignment and whether the work is recurring. In some cases, discounted pricing may be offered to “get in the door.” In startup and/or other situations equity compensation may be possible. In certain situations, there may be an opportunity to earn success fees.

Critical Success Factors

·         Provide perceived and measurable value.

·         Ability to have honest, open discussions with clients.

·         Comfortable in a consultative sales role.

·         Strong interpersonal skills.

·         Able to juggle multiple clients.

·         Demonstrate that you can fix the client’s problem. 



Incoming Career Management Committee Chair Dave Stuer called the May meeting to order, welcoming all attendees and sharing news of upcoming events in the FEI calendar.


Dave had the pleasure of introducing our guest speaker and fellow committee member Larry Stybel, a national expert on leadership who discussed " Managing the Journey from Head of Finance to the CEO’s Valued Business Advisor."


Drawing from his real-world experience in retained search, leadership succession/development, and leadership outplacement, Larry shared advice on how CFOs can and should enhance their influence and exposure by not “staying in your lane” and being conscious of how your CEO perceives your value as he/she rates you on the following:


·        What “first impressions” did you leave?

·        How open are you to new ideas?

·        What is your physical proximity in the office?  If you’re not close, you miss out on valuable informal exchanges.

·        Is the CFO typical (stay in your lane) or atypical (navigate outside your lane)?

·        Blurred (functional) Boundaries: Are you comfortable “wearing different hats” (multiple functions), or do you spend most of your time with “the core (finance)?’


After a Q&A with Larry, the attendees took advantage of some time for open networking.


Kristy Gonsalves, Associate Director of FEI sponsor The Siegfried Group, led an interactive discussion on how a “Transformative Mindset” can lead to expanded individual leadership capabilities and accelerate personal and professional growth.


In building the case, Kristy developed the following concepts:


·         Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

·         Mindset Continuum

·         Defining and Developing Grit


Fixed vs. Growth Mindset – Many view intelligence and abilities as fixed.  Others believe that these abilities can be developed (“growth mindset.”)  Research completed by Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University and others demonstrates that those with a growth mindset achieve at a higher level over time than those with a fixed mindset. Characteristics of persons with a growth mindset are that they embrace challenges, believe that intelligence and talent can be developed and see failure as a learning opportunity.


Mindset Continuum – Kristy described individuals’ mindset continuum as consisting of four elements; failure (feel sorry for themselves), frustration (don’t know how to help themselves), conventional success (don’t know there is anything better) and transformative (always making themselves better). She also indicated that all of us are operating at 100% of our capacity based on our current mindset.  Shifting our mindset allows us to learn, grow and achieve break-throughs.


Grit – defined partly as courage, backbone, strength of will, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance. Kristy provided an exercise to measure each attendee’s level of grit and provided a roadmap for developing it. The roadmap touched on practice (learning from feedback), purpose (an area of interest), hope (embracing failure as a learning opportunity) and time - to devote yourself to practice, purpose and hope. Grit can be a key ingredient in developing the growth mindset.


The following are links to the excellent videos included in Kristy’s presentation.


The Power of Belief - Mindset and Success - Eduardo Briceno


Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance - Angela Lee Duckworth




Franchise Opportunities as an Career Alternative

Eric Schechterman presented Franchising 101 to about 30 attendees at the FEI Career Services meeting tonight.  Eric also brought two of his clients, Ben Marshall and Kevin Martin, two franchisees.  Joe Frank of the Committee hosted.


Eric has a very comprehensive presentation that speaks to:

·        Why Business Ownership?

·        Franchise Myths

·        Risks and Rewards

·        How to Simplify Your Search


Some of the myths explored by Eric included:

·        How many franchise concepts registered in the USA: 3100

·        That franchises are expensive: half have an entrance fee of <$250K; Eric explained an approach to funding that is Equity 25%; Debt, e.g SBA loans, 75%. Rates are prime +2.75%

·        Financing can be accomplished using retirement funds


Another topic was how FranNet works with future franchisees

·        Works with franchises that require investment of <$250K

·        Has franchise assessment tools

·        Works hard to match the brand to the buyer


Lastly, we heard from Ben and Kevin who were very open about their experiences.  You can learn more about FranNet at:


Here is a link to our next program at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 “Mindset for Career Success” presented by Stephanie Scoleri and Kristy Gonsalves from FEI sponsor Siegfried Group.


Recruiting Panel

Career Services’ was pleased to present the annual Recruiting Panel event on Tuesday night. Larry Kramer, Managing Partner of Foundation Management Associates, LLC moderated the panel, which included Brian Bednarek (Addison Group), John Bresnahan (Robert Half Finance & Accounting), Brian Greene (Fenway Consulting/Search Group) and Richard Pooley (Heidrick & Struggles).

The discussion focused on the general themes of the current market, job search tactics, compensation and developing a relationship with recruiters.

Market - The job market in 2018 remains “Buoyant” across a wide range of industry sectors, with high demand for those offering strong technical skills, particularly as relates to GAAP and SEC reporting requirements.

Tactics - The Recruiters stressed the importance of presenting yourself to align as closely as possible with the specific job requirements, particularly when completing any online applications.  As in the past, Clients have high expectations that the Recruiter will provide candidates that closely match the job specification, including prior industry experience in many cases.  For situations in which candidates are looking to “switch” industries, Recruiters may be facing an uphill battle.  In these cases, candidates should develop their pitch to emphasize the similarities between the functional elements of a prior job and those of the target position.

Compensation – Changes are coming which limit the ability of the Recruiter and Employer to ask about your compensation history.  The compensation process will change, and you are likely to be asked what you are seeking earlier in the process.  When you are asked: be prepared to provide a range.  Additionally, the Recruiters advise looking at the total compensation package (base, bonus, benefits, equity, PTO) when evaluating an offer.

Quick Tips

1)     Take the recruiter’s call when they reach out.  If you help them, they will naturally be inclined to help you.   “Good people know good people.”

2)     If you are interested in changing

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