When asked what I do, my gut reaction is just to say “I do the Matt Bud thing.” In a sense, I don’t know what I do anymore, I just do. You see, I have been at it a while and I don’t tend to spend a lot of time thinking about it. (Frankly, I don’t have a lot of time TO think about it.)
To a degree, those of us in the financial professions tend NOT to spend a lot of time thinking about the value we bring to the organizations we serve. We are for the most part long service employees. If the company didn’t value our services, I assume that we wouldn’t be able to hang around so long. We also tend to be modest types (although there are a few braggarts among us) and we tend not to take full credit for things we do.
Well, now that you are in a marketing mode (hoping to sell your services to the highest bidder), you need to be analytical and introspective about what it is or what it was you were doing every day.
It is easy to think that as senior financial folks, all we do is create reports for others to read. (Gosh, are we modest or what?) Generally we do create a tremendous amount of information. What I think we may not recognize is that by speaking to the users of our information and modifying, pruning and expanding in other places the data we are presenting, we are influencing events. Information is power, and the really important information of any organization (like whether or not we are making a profit), flows through our fingertips.
Our role in the organization is not always well understood by others. Sometimes it appears that all we have been put in charge of is the word “no.” Often times we have been put in charge of this word, but as I liked to joke when I was in the Advertising industry, I had limited authority.
Limited authority or not, I learned early on that the information and knowledge I had was easier to wield as a weapon than the word no. I influenced events and I had an impact. In short, I created great value to my employers because I was able to persuade those around me to be attentive to economic facts of life that they would have preferred to ignore.
So, before you head off to that next interview, give some thought to how you created enough value to your employers that they were willing to keep you on payroll. I know you were doing something, but what?
Keep in mind that every story you tell is more than likely going to be told to a non-financial person. As the oracle of all wisdom (at least financial) in the company, how did you work to enforce discipline? How did you get the non-financial folks to seek you out? In short, how did you create value?
Tell the story in clear terms and you may be on your way to that next great job.