When my co-founders and I started BVOH Finance & Accounting Search in 2004, we knew we’d be wearing multiple hats. We enjoyed the diversity of sharing the operational responsibilities of the firm while also focusing on what we loved – executing quality searches for our clients and candidates.
For the first decade, this is how the company operated. We managed the company by committee, and while we slowly added staff to keep up with the business needs, most of our team members were experienced recruiters who brought deep expertise and relationships to the table. They didn’t require much training, and our small business was humming along because of the quality of our team.
Fast forward a few years, and the landscape changed.
Our business took off and we found we needed to grow our team more rapidly to satisfy the demand. These new team members were early in their recruiting careers and needed more guidance and training. A couple of senior people moved on after many years for different opportunities at larger firms. Additionally, we started a new service offering that was much more complex with deeper operational needs.
In short, our business had outgrown our initial structure and something needed to change. That something was leadership. BVOH needed someone to step into a leadership role for the health and sustainability of the company.
This marked a turning point for the company and for me. I had been working on the desk for 15 years, and I loved my job. I happily would have spent another 15 working directly with clients and candidates, helping create those perfect professional matches. However, I saw an opportunity (and a responsibility) to leverage my skills in new ways for the good of the firm.
Legacy Over Love
I’ve always been passionate about recruiting, and built both my own business and the BVOH brand under the premise of a values-based recruiting process. Agency recruiters often get a bad rap, but when you approach the job by always putting the best interests of your clients and candidates first – coupled with hard work and commitment – magic happens. This mantra is something everyone at BVOH lives by and is the cornerstone of our practice.
As I struggled over the decision to pull back from the client facing work, I considered the possibility that in doing so I could not only help our company but I could also have a bigger impact through the multiplier effect. Instead of being involved in search execution, I could influence the marketplace by ensuring that we were hiring exceptional people, training them well, and creating a culture that nurtures their talents.
I officially became Managing Partner in September 2014, and the role has been more rewarding and challenging than I anticipated. Overnight I became responsible for all aspects of BVOH’s business. From finance and accounting, to HR and compliance, to marketing, operations, hiring and training, the buck stopped here.
The responsibilities were considerable, especially when I realized how many aspects of the business we had overlooked. Because we had been focused almost 100% on client service, we were under invested in almost all areas of the business – not to mention proactive recruiting for our own team. It was also paramount that I transitioned my relationships with great care to the right people on the team so they wouldn’t experience any disruption in service.
BVOH was very fortunate in that we had an incredibly talented and committed core team who built great relationships and thus a loyal client base during that first decade. Without those individuals (who are standing by my side at BVOH today) this company would not exist. But establishing a central leadership was long overdue, and I became even more aware of that once I took on that role.
Many people–internal and external–questioned my decision. They understood our goals for the company but couldn’t fathom why I would give up a job I loved to wade into the unknown. However, this was the next step for the company and critical for sustainability.
Was I the right person for the job? I didn’t know. However, with the support of my partners, I was committed to making it work.
BVOH needed me in this capacity, so that’s where I would be.
If You’re Not Uncomfortable, You’re Not Growing
Becoming Managing Partner was the most humbling professional experience I’ve had to date. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and a high fear of failure, two traits that contributed to my success as a recruiter. However, I’ve learned first-hand that success in one area does not guarantee success in another. I’ve faced steep learning curves in this new position, and I’ve had to dig deep to find confidence on days when the challenges appeared insurmountable.
But as we tell our candidates, if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not stretching far enough. In my previous role, I could make change quickly and see results. There was a direct correlation between the effort I put into my job and the results I got. As a leader, I’ve learned that moving the needle on financials and culture is a slower process. Executing on ideas happens on a much longer time-scale when you’re relying on and managing other people for these results.
When I first transitioned to this role, my own expectations to hit targets were completely unrealistic. Three years in, I am just now starting to see the fruits of that labor.
I’ve never regretted my decision to shift gears at BVOH – but there were many occasions when I doubted my abilities. Fortunately, I am a member of a CEO peer advisory group that provided a lifeline during the roughest periods. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of surrounding yourself with peers who understand your challenges and can offer feedback and support.
It’s easy to be confident in your comfort zone. But when you step into a new arena, imposter syndrome rears its head. You wonder whether you’re the right person for the job, whether you’re capable of meeting these new demands. That’s when you most need a champion who will push you to keep going and tell you that you are more than equal to the task.
Now that I am finding my way in my new role, I can see that my team and I have made significant progress in the past three years. Winning the Inavero Best of Staffing Award for 2015 and 2016 validated that we are onto something with our recruiting and training practices, and that we have the power to influence our industry for the better.
Being recognized as a Forbes 250 Best of Recruiting Firms for 2017 was shocking and extremely gratifying. That alone makes the tougher days more than worth it.
Even though I’m not working directly with clients as often, I’ve found I gain as much enjoyment coaching our team to hone their strategies. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch them level up in their roles as I do the same in mine. Progress doesn’t come easily. But when it does, few things are more gratifying.
I’ve found I also love using our brand and voice in hopes of inspiring other recruiters and aspiring recruiters to put their relationships first and foremost. In doing so, I hope to positively impact a greater group of people outside the reach of BVOH.
Leaders are made in part by overcoming their challenges. Nothing worth having comes easily, and this is something I’ve had to remind myself over and over again. Whether you want to advance in your career or achieve a milestone in your personal life, you must be willing to be uncomfortable. That’s where growth happens and where the greatest fulfillment lies.
I still miss active recruiting from time to time and haven’t necessarily shut the door on it forever. But for now I’m needed more in my current role. We still have a long way to go, but I’m encouraged by our accomplishments and excited about what’s ahead. The best is yet to come.