Thursday, September 13, 2007

No, NOT Moving!

The boss is based in the KC MO office but lives in Arkansas. The JOB however is based in Portland.

Here is a copy of the letter I wrote to my head-hunter after the interview:

Hi R,

Sorry I wasn’t able to write to you last night. Here are some notes from my interview yesterday with D W of Company.

First, before I forget, he mentioned that the deal with their potential customer here in the Portland area hasn’t even closed yet (the work hasn’t been awarded), so cautioned me to be patient. I’m his first interview so far and he has many more to go. (He also said that of all the agencies he works with, YOURS is far and away his favorite—which of course made me feel great!)

We started with the usual “Tell me about yourself” dance, where I gave a brief overview of my work history in the corporate world. I explained how I fell into Contract Administration, how after about 6 years I moved to a job that was a better fit with my degree and professed “chosen” career, and how I realized almost immediately what a mistake that was. I explained how lucky I think I am because I had the rare opportunity to return to what I love, knowing without question that I had made the right choice this time (I would never have that nagging, “If Only I Had Tried This Thing” feeling).

We talked about what his team calls “Deliverables Management” (what I have always called “babysitting the details” or compliance tracking). Specifically, we talked about Change Control in all its iterations, intellectual property, deliverables, documentation (SOW documents, Amendments, etc.), subcontract and subcontractor compliance, and more.

We seemed to click. We laughed a lot, agreed on many key elements of how to do the job effectively (for example, no matter how technically good a Contract Manager is, if they don’t have the trust of the people, they’re not going to succeed), and both agree that Company seems to be the kind of place that attracts people who want to come to a job and STAY.

I repeated that I’m not actually looking for a job, I only accepted this interview because it was with Company—at this point in my career, pretty much the only company who could entice me away from where I am is Company.

When asked about my strengths and weaknesses, I explained that I’m a strong leader, a quick study, unafraid to ask questions if I don’t know the answers, and most important, I’m personable. I also gave him my personal motto, a quote by Einstein: “Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.” He liked that.

We talked about the Product and Cycle Excellence (PACE) program at a former job of mine—I explained how under PACE there are 7 phases of the product life-cycle, ending with “End of Life”, when a product is Manufacture Discontinued. I explained how I stepped in for the Program Manager for 15 months (after the dot-bomb, when our PM team went from 12 to 3) and ran the team, which is all about compliance (e.g.: If we MD this product, do we have enough widgets or gadgets or grommets in our roto-pool to support it for 10 years? Have we provided sufficient notice to the customer base, based on contractual obligations? Have we accounted for all the remaining pieces and parts to Finance so they can be re-allotted to products that use like parts, returned to the suppliers, or written-off the books, and so on).

And finally, when he wondered if I had any questions about Company, I asked, “What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?”

He was so excited that I asked the question, he talked for about the next 10 minutes straight! First of all, I would be located at the client site as a representative of Company; I would be part of a 3-person team, so I’d be co-located with others from my same discipline (which I understand is somewhat rare in this field).

Paraphrasing his answer, he said it would be my job to facilitate compliance with all the contract requirements. Early on in the contract, before requirements come due, it would be my primary job to educate, train, create awareness for our people, which might include implementing, building processes, documentation, etc., to facilitate compliance.

There will also be ad hoc issues every day—lots of contract analysis and interpretation, QA, Risks and Issues analysis, identifying “commercial levers” (e.g.: can I save the company or the customer money if we do X instead of Z?), etc. The position ultimately reports up to the Chief Risk Officer, so it’s important to keep the big picture in mind: through all the daily issues, the top priority is and always will be COMPLIANCE.

Since he mentioned 3 people in the position, I asked about the hierarchy. He explained, using standard terms, not Company’s letter terms, that there will be a Sr. Contract Manager, an Experienced Contract Manager, and a Jr. resource of some sort. The CM (experienced, but not Sr.) will be the contract lead on day to day issues, internal & external interaction, etc. The Jr. will be more along the lines of an analyst or specialist (more administrative) who is working toward a Contract Manager position. It sounded to me like he’s thinking I would be a good fit in the experienced but not Senior position. I agree with him. I don’t think I’d be interested in the Jr. position, unless it’s the only way to get my foot into Company. If that’s what they offer, let’s talk.

Finally, I asked him why he went to work for Company, what keeps him there, and what’s HIS take on the company’s corporate culture. He gave me his story about falling into Contract Administration (similar to my story), said there’s no question that the people are what keeps him there, and complimented the corporate culture with words such as “creative”, “resourceful”, “bright”, and “helpful”.

We discussed the next steps in the process, I expressed again how excited I am at the potential opportunity to work for Company, asked if there was anything else he needed from me, got his phone number, and we agreed to be in touch through you “shortly”. This was when he reminded me that the work hasn’t been awarded and requested my patience. I told him I was in a great position for patience because I already have a job I like and I’m in no rush to leave.

I feel very positive about this interview, but would like to request that you keep my resume active for Companyjust in case this particular position falls through. That’s the company where I want to hang my hat!

Thanks again, R.