Posts by Harveen Sooch

5 Secrets on How to Land your Dream Job at a Fortune 100 Company / An Interview with Former Fortune Executive, Noga Zilberberg (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome back to the second part of our series with Former Fortune Execute, Noga Zilberberg, on Coffee with Leaders!

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Dha and Noga Zilberberg sat down to discuss Noga’s experience at McKesson and Noga gave our audience 5 secrets on how to land a high-profile role at a Fortune 100 organization.

Noga is a former finance executive, however, has since switched gears and now has her own coaching consulting services, Zilberberg Consulting Inc. She continues on with the 5 secrets on landing a high-profile job below!

To read the beginning of this article, click here.

#3 Innovative Problem Solving and Critical Thinking 

As Steve Jobs famously put it: “…we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. I couldn’t agree more. Leaders, teams and employees with innovative problem-solving abilities are crucial to the success of any business. For large, high-profile companies innovative employees, at all levels of the organization, are the lifeline that helps them:  

  • Operate in the most effective and efficient way 
  • Solve challenges that were once considered impossible to solve 
  • Improve the quality of life of millions of people around the world 

Are you up for the challenge? Can you prove that throughout your career you have demonstrated an “out of the box” thinking that resulted ioutstanding outcomes in your area of expertise?  

Think of another well-known saying “a chain is as strong as the weakest link” and you’ll understand why this skill is considered a requirement in many job postings. 

Michael: It’s not easy assessing these abilities during an interview.  

Noga: Some interviewers still use “brain teasers” like those that Google interviewers were infamously known for, such as “how many golf balls can you fit in a school bus?” Or “how would you solve homelessness in Vancouver?”. Candidates often struggle to understand how these questions help hiring managers assess their professional abilities.  

Most of these questions don’t have right or wrong answers, but rather attempt to reveal one’s critical thinking skills, their ability to deal with ambiguity, as well as their ability and desire to come up with innovative solutions. Candidates should avoid responses that suggest they lack these crucial skills. Common bad responses include: 

  • “What do you mean?” 
  • “I have no idea”  
  • “This is not my area of expertise”  
  • It’s impossible to answer without more information”  

Anyone interviewing to a high-profile role that requires significant innovative problem-solving, should familiarize themselves with this type of questions and the best way to answer them.  

Better yet, they should proactively provide their interviewer with plenty of examples of previous professional challenges they faced and how their problem-solving abilities contributed to the solution. They just might avoid being asked something like: “what problem would you choose to solve using time travel?”
 

#4 Emotional Intelligence (aka EQ) 

Some of the traits I have already mentioned have to do with how people interact with colleagues and others in the business environment. None of them, however, distill this idea as much as the concept of emotional intelligence. EQ has two important aspects that I’d like to emphasize:  

  • Self-awareness and the ability to manage oneself effectively and gracefully around others 
  • Building and managing relationships with others  

Michael: Can you explain why this is important for large companies like those on the Fortune 100 list?

Noga: These companies have many ideas flying around, many conceived by very smart people, and all competing for limited funding resources. Employees who can effectively promote their ideas by utilizing their highly developed relationship-building and communication skills will dictate the direction of their teams or perhaps the entire company, depending on their role. They will be more successful in their jobs and positively influence those around them.  

When you go on an interview, your EQ is put to the test the minute you walk into the company’s offices. Make a conscious effort to calm your nerves so you appear kind and genuine in all your interactions. Greet the receptionist, participate in small talk, and display confidence and self-awareness when responding to questions.  

All types of relevant communication skills are assessed during an interview. Are you articulate and can gracefully deal with unexpected questions? Are you a good listener or ‘jumping the gun’ to answer questions? Remarkably, some interviewers might even hint at the answers they are looking for. Listen carefully to make sure you’re picking up on those clues.  

Effectively using your EQ in an interview is a sure-fire way to quickly build rapport (“chemistry”) with your interviewer. The interviewer needs to like you and feel that the team will enjoy working with you. Candidates with high levels of EQ actually do better on interviews and can sometimes even beat candidates with superior professional skills!  

Michael: We are down to the last skillset of this top 5 list.

Noga: I saved the best for last..

#5 Grit 

 If I had to choose the two most desirable personality traits for employees in the Corporate world, it would be EQ and Grit. Psychology researcher, Angela Duckworth, defines Grit as: “the passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals”.  

Money and job titles are no longer the top motivators for employees to work hard towards the company’s goals. A much stronger motivator is the combination of how well those goals are aligned with one’s own values and aspirations (or: what they want to achieve) coupled with their inherent passion and perseverance (or: how they’ll go about achieving that).  

I see grit as the innermost drive and desire to achieve successwhatever that may mean to the individual. Great accomplishments are usually the result of continuous personal and professional developmentgetting out of your comfort zone and unwavering dedication, even when facing setbacks.  

Michael: How dyou assess candidates’ grit during interviews? 

Noga: Two of my favourite questions to ask candidates are “tell me about life-experiences that you believe have made you who you are today” and “tell me about three people who have personally influenced you”. Again, there are no “correct” answers to these questions. It is the type of experiences and people candidates drew on, what they have learned along the way, and how they plan to implement those learnings in future challenging situations, that helped me get to know them better. It helped me understand their ambitions and how determined they were to reach their full potential.  

Another common question that interviewers ask to assess both EQ and perseverance is “tell me about a time you had to convince others to adopt your idea”.  A winning answer will include elements of persuasion and determination while maintaining great professional relationships.  

Conclusion

Identifying superstar candidates who have both outstanding professional/technical skills, as well as these important personality attributes, is not easy, but it pays high dividends for hiring companies, teams and managers.  

If you are one of those superstars, recruiters and high-profile companies must already be contacting you with tempting offers on a fairly regular basis. Others, who are not quite there yet, can greatly benefit from developing the attributes we’ve discussed. Professionals who are willing to work hard to master these skills – are on their way to becoming superstar candidates and landing their dream job! 

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5 Secrets on How to Land your Dream Job at a Fortune 100 Company / An Interview with Former Fortune Executive, Noga Zilberberg (Part 1 of 2)

Welcome to our series on Coffee with Leaders. Each quarter, we sit down with trailblazing leaders of the Canadian market to discuss issues relating to life in Corporate Canada.

Last week, our Managing Director at STRIVE, Michael Dha, called upon a longstanding client and now friend, Noga Zilberberg. Noga climbed the corporate ranks at McKesson Technology Solutions (now Change Healthcare), leading an extremely talented and high-performing team as the Executive Director of Finance. McKesson is 6th on the 2018 Fortune 500 list and one of the largest companies in North America with revenues over $200Bn. Noga has shifted gears in her career and now offers interview coaching consulting services through her company, Zilberberg Consulting Inc.

Michael and his STRIVE team started working with Noga in 2012. At that time, Noga was managing a small finance team at McKesson, which directly supported the executive team of the medical imaging business unit. Over the next 5 years, the needs of the business grew and so did the finance team. Noga’s role as Manager catapulted to Executive Director, and with the help of her recruitment partners at STRIVE, her team quadrupled in size. However, this was no easy feat. Noga and the executive team at McKesson had very high expectations of all their staff. Despite having urgent hiring deadlines, Noga would not compromise on the quality of talent that she brought on to her team. So how did the candidates do it? What did they need to do to impress the interviewer and land their dream job?

In this next two-part series, Michael and Noga sit down to discuss Noga’s experience at McKesson and Noga gives our audience 5 secrets on how to land a high-profile role at a Fortune 100 organization.

Michael:Noga, let’s start at the beginning – how did you end up at McKesson?

Noga: This was back in January 2010. My youngest son was seven months old and I was well into my maternity leave. A recruiter I previously worked with had reached out to me suggesting that I interview for an interesting FP&A position with a large tech company. McKesson was very particular about the type of candidate they were looking for! After a few rounds of interviews, they determined I fit the bill and I was offered the role.

Michael: When you landed that first job with McKesson, did you think you would stay there for 8 years and progress as much as you have?

Noga: Well, I knew that working for McKesson, a 180-year-old international pharmaceutical and tech company, would be an amazing opportunity. Even my first role at McKesson was extremely challenging and rewarding. However, at the time, it was a much smaller finance team. I appreciated my manager’s honesty when she warned me that there will be no room for growth. Despite that early warning, as the business unit grew and the team expanded, I was promoted four times. All these roles didn’t even exist when I started working for McKesson. I am very happy I took that ‘leap of faith’ in 2010.

Michael: Throughout the years you have interviewed, assessed and hired many candidates for various levels. Can you share some advice on what it takes to land a job at a large company like McKesson?

Noga: First, it’s important to understand that large, successful companies are in constant need of talented professionals, who are also good team players. On the flip side, the competition for those positions is undoubtedly fierce. Hiring managers are bombarded with candidates’ resumes, even when they have no open positions. They can afford to be very selective and pick only the very best to join their teams.

Most managers, in any organization, are looking to hire the best candidates possible. However, from my experience, there are a few “skillset categories” that will be considered a must-have at these high-profile companies. I am not just talking about being the best at what you do professionally, or the obvious soft skills that most job postings mention, but rather that “secret sauce” that ensures great companies keep growing, attracting more investors, clients, positive public attention, brand recognition, and… more great employees.

Here are my top 5 skillset categories that will get you high-profile roles at high-profile companies:

#1 Common Sense and Maturity

Throughout your life, you are encountering increasingly complex and delicate situations, from how to speak with your college professors to managing your own finances, career and personal life. These experiences should build character, help you develop good judgment, and teach you the value of responsibility and accountability. Have they?

Do you have a good understanding of desirable behaviours in the corporate world? Can you demonstrate those behaviours consistently? Business etiquette includes anything from appropriate attire and good old manners to not sending a Facebook friend request to the Vice-President who has just interviewed you (and anything in between). These unwritten rules create a foundation for a comfortable work environment that encourages professionalism and cooperation.

To many people the above sounds obvious. However, as the saying goes: “common sense is not so common”, unfortunately. I wouldn’t mention this if it wasn’t so high on my priority list as a hiring manager. My teams and I worked directly with senior leaders in a multi-billion-dollar company. There was very little, if any, room for error, when it came to the fundamentals of handling ourselves in a professional manner, providing excellent customer service, and in general “doing the right thing”.

That’s why during interviews, I paid special attention to the subtext in candidates’ stories and examples. Any case of placing blame on others or a lack of self-awareness, for example, was a big warning sign for lack of maturity. If the candidate’s integrity or discretion was called into question during their interview, they would also, unfortunately, have their resume placed in the ‘no’ pile. This includes, for example, a management candidate who disclosed major upcoming layoffs at their current company during their interview.

If you are not convinced that a bit of “business gossip” should be grounds for a candidate’s rejection, just imagine the potential damage, such lack of discretion can cause when putting the company’s intellectual property (IP) in danger, exposing non-disclosed financial results that might impact investment decisions, and so on.

#2 Resourcefulness and Independent Thinking

High-profile companies are looking for talented people who can foresee & prevent, identify & resolve issues in their areas of responsibility, before those need to be escalated. They need employees who can get things done! These companies aspire to resolve big problems, positively impact millions of lives, and increase shareholders’ value. For them, there is just not enough time in the day and not enough resources to dedicate to “handholding”.

If you want to join high-profile companies, it would be in your best interest to demonstrate that you are a “low maintenance” resourceful employee, with regards to simpler tasks, and a thoughtful professional when it comes to the more complex assignments.

What does the term “low maintenance”, resourceful employees actually mean?

These people are not easily taken back by moderate inconveniences, roadblocks or uncertainty. When possible, they just roll up their sleeves and find a solution. They do not expect anyone else to resolve the day-to-day obstacles we all face, not even their manager.

A resourceful team is a blessing for a manager and the entire company. This means managers can focus on the bigger picture, setting strategic directions, and solving the big problems – inside the company and for their customers.

Interviewers will sometimes attempt to examine resourcefulness and independent thinking (as well as innovative problem solving, discussed next, and other skills on this list) by asking “stress questions”. These questions throw interviewees off-balance, challenge them to think on their feet and deal with situations of missing information. Some examples of “stress questions” include what would I find if I googled your name? or what would you do if you won $50 million yesterday?

I suggest mentally preparing in advance for these types of interview questions, especially when interviewing for high-profile roles in high-profile companies.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this article next week!

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Cocktails and Conversation!

SHK Law Corporation and STRIVE Recruitment cordially invite you to a networking reception at The Loft at Earl’s in Yaletown. What better way to usher in the start of summer than networking and sharing a toast with your fellow construction and real estate industry colleagues!

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Our First Annual Team Trip to Los Cabos, Mexico!

We had some ambitious goals set out at the beginning of the year and after hitting our team targets, the STRIVE Recruitment team booked themselves a ticket to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! 2018 was a record year for the company and the team celebrated by taking all of the staff on a fun-filled trip to celebrate all of the hard work and dedication in 2018. From the Sunset Cruise over “Lands End” to team building activities throughout the resort, it was a trip to remember. We are already off to a great start for 2019 – where will our team end up next?!

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Helpful Tips to Survive Busy Season

Author: Ben de la Fosse – Recruitment Specialist at STRIVE Recruitment

Contributions: CPA designated public practice accounting professionals

 

So, it is that time of year again! We are already well into busy season and for those of you in Audit, the end is near and, if you are in Tax, the home stretch is almost upon you – you got this, just hang in there!

I can’t honestly say that I have had the pleasure of working a busy season but, I have some sort of idea from my time at University. I remember the library becoming somewhat of a second home in the last month or two of my final year. My days pretty much consisted of classes, exam preparation and writing my final year dissertation. I pretty much fueled all of this with coffee, cold pizza and instant noodles (I won’t lie, I may have had the occasional beer as well).

Now, I am sure you all have your own little tips and tricks to help make the days a little less painful but, I have surveyed fellow public practice CPA’s who have been there, done it and got the grey hairs to show for it. These generous professionals have provided some insight into things they do to ensure they are at the top of their game. I hope they are of some help.

Healthy Diet

This came at the top of everyone’s list of things to be mindful of. How we fuel our bodies has a massive impact on our mental performance throughout the day. The following link may provide some helpful advice for you. Diet Tips For Optimal Brain Function. Our professionals say:

  • Make sure you are eating sufficiently and taking the time to have a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Consider using your meal allowance to cover a meal and healthy snacks for the remainder of the day.
  • It is very important to drink enough water (6 to 8 cups a day). This really helps with concentration. Also use this as an opportunity to get up from your desk and stretch your legs as you walk to the water cooler.

Keeping Active

I have to admit, I am definitely not a fitness fanatic but agree with the majority of my network who said that making time for exercise is very important. I know it feels like you don’t have time to stop and think, let alone exercise but, keeping active helps alleviate stress and boost brain activity. For more information on how exercise affects your performance you should read; Exercise and Work Performance.

Here are some tips from the pro’s on how to fit exercise into your day:

  • Your firm may provide an on-site gym. Try and utilize this, even if it’s just for 30 minutes before work, at lunch or in the evening.
  • Stand up often: It is most likely documented in your employee handbook, which is now lying somewhere in your drawer collecting dust but, for every hour you work, you should take a 5-minute break from the screen. Go grab yourself a glass of water, get a snack, interact with your team and ask if they need support.
  • Using your Fitbit/ Apple Watch or a timer and set an activity challenge that makes you to get out of your seat.
  • Stretch: Cater a stretching routine and/or take an afternoon walk, even if it’s around the client’s office.

Work/ Life Balance

It is very important to keep some level of work/ life balance. You need the time to disconnect from work and partake in activities that you enjoy. This will drastically help improve your mood. You Only Get One Life!

  • Flex hours: If your job allows for flex time, plan ahead and use this to do something besides work. For example, make use of your RMT massages, spend time with the family, start that book you’ve been wanting to read.
  • “It is a marathon not a sprint”. Ensure you take breaks throughout your day. Utilize your lunch break. Go grab that coffee you want.
  • I can be a culprit of this next one. Ensure you work Make sure you are not just running around like a headless chicken. Plan your day out and prioritize your workload.

Working as a Team

During busy season, it’s inevitable that you’ll be spending significant time with coworkers or engagement teams. The fact that everyone is in the same boat for 3-4 months is an incredibly effective way to build team camaraderie and lasting relationships.  Take full advantage of this opportunity.

  • Share your struggles with your team. “A problem shared is a problem halved”. Lean on the experience of your Managers or discuss issues with your team and find a common solution together.
  • Come together as a team. Grab dinner with your engagement team, have a coffee with your coworkers, find a way to unplug from the work for 15-30 minutes and just get to know each other on a more personal level.
  • Building these relationships will carry you so much farther in your career than finishing a certain engagement on time.

Learn from your experiences

Busy season is exactly that. A season. It comes and goes. Just think, soon enough you will be done and those long summer days will be just around the corner. Try and concentrate on the positives of this experience and learn from it.

This is a prime-time for accelerating your learning and professional development. Accounting professionals with a public practice background bring technical and soft skills to the table that are highly desirable to an employer, and the challenges brought about by busy season fine-tune many of these skills.

Finally….

Smile often. It’s not so serious. 🙂

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