Is this a good climate to take a career “risk”? Or is it riskier staying where you are?


Innovative-solution My definition of corporate failure in this market:  "We're gonna ride out 2009 and go for it next year."  What are you going for?  What are you riding out?  If you want to remain successful, you better get your act together now and formulate a game plan. 

Too many firms are sticking to their old business models, in denial that they need to do anything different (besides firing a few people), and cling to the vein hope that their fortunes will dramatically turn around in 2010…by doing NOTHING.  And I can be 100% sure that everyone reading this is either working for a firm with that attitude, or knows someone who is.  Smart executives sense stagnation, and a lot of top talent is re-thinking whether their current employer has what it takes to prosper in a post-recessionary economy.  (P.S. a prize is available for the first person to reveal this icon of executive innovation from the '80s…).

And the top tier isn't always offering the most appealing place to work in this market – am seeing several top executives broadening their horizons for unique companies geared for growth in this new economy.  Start-ups and small companies, for example, which are plugged into the new economy are becoming vogue.  Many people are realizing that no job is particularly secure anymore, so if you're going to take a risk, why not now? 

We're now seeing the fog lift, and several smart service providers are dipping into the market to pick up top talent… and naturally this starts with sales execs.  In industries such as payroll and HR outsourcing, it's all about relationships, and the recent hiring of Kephanie Landess by British upstart HRO service provider Patersons, is an example of top talent focusing on joining upcoming providers with a unique vision.

Kephanie could have handpicked many of the leading HR services or software brands for her next career move, but she chose a firm that isn't that well-known, but has great potential for future growth in this market.  I keep a close eye on the payroll/HRMS outsourcing market and have been initially impressed by Paterson's SaaS-based multi-tenant HRO solution, with the firm beating out tier 1 competition to win new business with major corporations such as Wachovia, Interdean and Henderson.  With 10% of mid-large firms looking to move onto managed payroll outsourcing services over the next year, this is not a bad market to be in.  You just need to make sure you're working for one which can service clients globally, and has a proven Opex-based model that doesn't necessitate huge upfront transformation costs.

I asked Kephanie to let readers here know why she made this decision.  Over to you Kephanie:

"Here is a quick summary (well I intended it to be quick) of why I joined Patersons: 

"I wanted to work for a company that is not “set in their ways” and have ability to make an impact in moving from status quo offering in market to what the market requires;

"I wanted to work for a company that is not “set in their ways” and have ability to make an impact in moving from status quo offering in market to what the market requires Work for a company that is focused on critical niche solution as opposed to “jack of all trades” approach;

"I have been seeing an increasing trend of organizations trying to act like global organizations due to the increasing demand of having employees stretch globally, but didn’t have the means necessary to support all populations as it relates to Payroll & HR (the market has tried and tested what's out there and it's not adequate);

"I was looking for an organization that is proactively responding to the needs of the market for a truly global Payroll & HR technology (need alternative to other providers–which can meet needs of certain segments, locations, solution tiers, but not holistic approach to all global HR & Payroll needs);

"The market requires the same single provider that can offer global integrated Payroll & HR solutions whether they have one employee in one country and 10000 in another country and scalability for growth strategy– (other providers can offer bits and pieces to accommodate various populations but not single solution across whatever populations/countries necessary)."

Kephanie_landessIn case Kephanie's boss, Karen Paterson, reads this, I can assure her that Kephanie contributed about 10 further points attempting to justify why Patersons is the greatest offering since the feeding of the 5000, but I do have to draw the line somewhere 🙂

Kephanie Landess (pictured) is Vice President of Sales for Americas for global HR services provider Patersons.  She can be contacted here if you want to buy some SaaS…

Posted in : Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), HR Outsourcing, Outsourcing Heros, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and BPaaS



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  1. it’s the sinclair c5. living in cambridge at the time enabled me to watch its launch. was funny when riders/users/drivers were stopped for drink driving and police weren’t sure if they were bicycles or cars.

  2. Rowan,

    Congratulations. I would send you a prize, but you haven’t revealed any contact details, so enjoy the prestige of being a champion 🙂


  3. Phil,

    My answer is “it depends.” For a person in a bad company or situation, this is a good time to start looking. For a person in a good company and situation, it would be foolish to take a risk at this time,

    Richard Kirby

  4. I believe the answer to these questions would lie in the following:

    1) Is your current employer flexible enough and dynamic enough to change its vision and delivery to allign itself to the new opportunities and delivery model?

    2) Are you a domain expert in your current domain?

    3) Does your top leadership have a vision for re positioning the organisation do deal with emerging opportunities and challenges?

    4) Is your work atmosphere conducive for creative thinking and out-of-the-box approaches?

    If the answer to majority of these questions is yes, my advice is stick around, in case it is no, look out for a change.


  5. Phil, If one gets an good opportunity now, I do not see any reason why he/she should not go for it. Companies who hire in the middle of a downturn are probably among the survivers, and are unlikely to reduce their workforce anyday soon.

    Kari Vaananen

  6. Phil,

    I agree with the premise of your post, but who could have predicted the meltdown in the mortgage, banking, financial services industries? Kind of like having a business plan for aliens abducting your top 20 clients in my opinion. I think some companies need to look at their industry and make some tough decisions, but others have been one of many dominoes toppled by the collapse of the aforementioned industries. Managing expenses, defining your mission statement, being the best at what you do are all cliche’, but many organizations with solid business plans can’t do much more at this juncture. None of us can drive a global economic recovery, which would make even boring business plans look better. I believe the market will correct itself, but hopefully our business leaders and politicians have learned a lesson or two along the way. Not holding my breath on that one though.

    Steve Brainard

  7. Phil,

    What astonishes me is that a number of companies recruited very heavily even as the crisis was unfolding. One would have thought that these companies are stars in their own right, and could weather the storm. Many of those companies have now started cutting back. That leaves me to wonder that these companies were not actually in a great position earlier, rather just naieve. Hence, I would be tread cautiosly with companies with mega-recruitment plans.

    Also, especially, in the UK, if a company needs to make someone redundant, it the most economical to do it for new hires (less of 2 years stint with the company). Hence, it does make sense to stick around, unless you have doubts that your current org is going concern.


  8. From the unabashed perspective of an Executive Search professional, it’s ALWAYS a good climate to consider (if not take) a career risk. Career growth CAN NOT HAPPEN without one taking calculated risks, whether that be volunteering to lead a project that will stretch one’s comfort zone and abilities or deciding to work for a smaller company that has a disruptive market-strategy. This can be especially true in times of upheaval, whether due to an economic free fall (e.g. where one is likely to be RIFed), a change in governmental regulations (e.g. where your company’s product or service is no longer protected from significant competition and the company’s response is to stick it’s head in the sand), M&A event, leadership change etc.

    I counsel my candidates to weigh their risk tolerance of falling flat on their behinds with their desire to make a real difference and bring meaningful change to their profession. Sometimes, the smart money is on staying where one is despite the upheaval (have you learned all you can and need to learn where you currently work?), but if one’s gut is telling them to charge the hill and they believe in the leadership, mission and their fellow comrades – they should go for it!

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