EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

It continues to be my observation of our members that for the most part we tend to move from large companies to small. Part of the reason is that we have no choice. Large companies generally speaking don’t hire senior executives from the outside. They try to grow their own.

In any case, that leaves many of us from large corporations carrying the “burden” of perhaps several decades of experience in the ways of large corporations. I say burden because we only know what we know. Although the many tools we have learned in large corporations have their applicability, it is often difficult to know how to apply them in a smaller environment.

A 5-year strategic plan, for example, simply has no place in a company with 50 employees that is struggling to make payroll next week. As the Chief Financial Officer of a firm like this, learning to adapt your thinking to the new world in which you exist can take a little time. More importantly, there is the risk of offending the very people who brought you in to clean up their mess. Sure, they SAY they want to be more like the large corporation you came from, and that IS why they hired you, but moving “from here to there” needs to be done carefully and over a long period of time. (Although, in a small company, a month may indeed be a long period of time.)

This is of course assuming you get the job, and perhaps that is a big assumption.

Your challenge coming from a lengthy experience with a highly structured and well disciplined financial organization is to explain the tools you have acquired in a manner that is devoid of the “corporate speak” with which you have become so comfortable.

Six Sigma is a powerful tool. So is a PERT diagram. I am not really familiar with Six Sigma, except to say that I think I know what it is. PERT stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique. I don’t know if they still use it in large corporations, and I never actually applied it, but I did learn it in college, and the structured thinking it represents I DID apply and continue to apply to everything I do. The search for the critical path, and the identification of constraining activities provides a useful framework for appropriate projects.

That said, I probably would never think of telling anyone that this was what I was doing for fear of scaring them.

I might tell them that my corporate experience has provided me with tools that I can apply to their problems, and then might provide some color by putting in context a problem that we had discussed. But, again, without telling them the NAME of the tool.

As financial folks coming from what is in effect an extension of our college education, we have skills that are needed and skills that are easily transferable. All we have to do is avoid scaring our customers off.

Those who would like to share their experiences dealing with this issue are encouraged to write in. Sharing our knowledge is what The FENG is all about. I look forward to hearing from you.

Please send your thoughts to Leads@TheFENG.org. Label them “Avoiding Corporate Speak” and be sure to begin with “From Your Full Name, Your Chapter, Your First Name writes:”

Leslie will put them under our “Notes from Members” section.

Regards, Matt

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