… or find your own – another of my career 9 Situations
Once I left Barclays, I had some time off on gardening leave and used this time to research who my next employer would be, preferring this to search firms who I felt did not properly differentiate or represent me.
I identified 22 organisations in the UK and Europe where I felt I could be happy and make a difference. The main criteria being that they all had to:
a. Be well-known and respected global brands
b. Be looking to grow significantly (upwards of 20% pa) with diverse and active distribution channels
c. Be able to provide me with a sufficiently large enough canvass upon which to work
I then crafted both an email of introduction to the CEO of each organisation (I didn’t know any of them personally) and sent with it a 2-pager paper on increasing distribution channel effectiveness. Long story short, I was invited to meet several but Zurich were particularly keen to talk.
What was so interesting about the Zurich is that whilst they were intrigued about my paper, they were actually looking at me to potentially run their UK Corporate Pension business. However, the only issue from their point of view was that they were looking for a ‘name’ – someone who knew about this market and was, ideally, known to the sector. This was because the business was a complete turnaround case.
When this was put to me, I responded that the business had over 200 people who knew about the corporate pensions market, and two who were well-known in the sector, but the business was still missing its targets by 60%. What they in fact needed was someone to drive change and make it profitable – and I knew I could do that. They offered me the job, and we increased revenues by 240% in the first year. Complete validation of the risk (on both sides).
Reflection: Because I was driving the search for the next (near) perfect role, I felt much more in control of the situation. I was also able to defuse any negative point (like my lack of sector knowledge) before it detonated against me because I was able to talk directly with the decision maker - not any third party. Very powerful.