BusinessPeople In BusinessDon’t run from a crisis

Don’t run from a crisis

Battle-hardened finance execs have altogether better prospects when it comes to finding a job

It seems unfair to pick on BP’s under- fire chief exec Tony Hayward again,
and this ar ticle isn’t meant to do that – but it provides a wonder ful case in
point on a number of levels.

On a personal basis I have to say that I think he is doing as good a job as
anyone can do when working with a horrible situation under the scrutiny of the
full force of the media and US political environment. But that’s why he gets
paid a lot of money and we have to hope he is wor th it.

However, I wanted to demonstrate a point about the over whelming desire to
run from a problem – and why that’s not necessarily the right thing to do.
Imagine you work for BP. Now imagine that you find yourself working for the US
business in a finance role that gives you a degree of exposure to the issues BP
are currently working with.

Imagine that you have a choice to return to the UK and a safe head of fice
role, or stay and help sor t the situation out. I’ve had this conversation with
a large number of finance candidates and its alarming how many people would jump
on a plane to London.

I understand why – working in the middle of a crisis is hard. You are
exposed, the hours are long, its tense and there is no guarantee of success.
When I speak to people who have had a stellar career and ask them what the most
instructive period was, time and time again they talk about a crisis that they
were involved in. And the same line keeps coming up: “Of course it was no fun at
all going through it but when I look back, I had five years’ experience in 12
months.”

What they tend to mean when they say this is that experience gained in the
heat of battle is wor th a lot more than training, and a crisis is a battle. Ask
Tony.

Cranking the handle and grinding out the results is useful of course and
teaches you a number of things, but a year spent in crisis is worth several of
steady state. As an added incentive, CEOs like seeing people who have spent some
time dealing with issues. A completely clean CV does not give the same level of
confidence as one where people have dealt with something hairy.

So, next time you are asked to choose between a crisis and an easy life,
maybe you should enter the lion’s den. You will build up points internally and
you will develop credibility externally.

Mark Freebairn is a partner at Odgers Berndtson

Related Articles

Shortlist announced for British Accountancy Awards 2017

Accounting Firms Shortlist announced for British Accountancy Awards 2017

4m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Pimlico Plumbers to take employment case appeal to Supreme Court

Legal Pimlico Plumbers to take employment case appeal to Supreme Court

4m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
HMRC appoints new director generals

HMRC HMRC appoints new director generals

5m Alia Shoaib, Reporter
Submit your entry for the British Accountancy Awards!

People Business Submit your entry for the British Accountancy Awards!

5m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
BDO appoints two non-executive directors as advisers to leadership team

Accounting Firms BDO appoints two non-executive directors as advisers to leadership team

6m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Ex-HMRC chief to join ICAS council

HMRC Ex-HMRC chief to join ICAS council

8m Emma Smith, Managing Editor
Tyrie on Finance Bill 2017: ‘Making Tax Policy Better’

Consulting Tyrie on Finance Bill 2017: ‘Making Tax Policy Better’

11m Stephanie Wix, Writer
Settlement reached between Margaret May and CIMA

Accounting Standards Settlement reached between Margaret May and CIMA

11m Stephanie Wix, Writer