The Special Ingredient
May 28, 2013

A little known fact about me is that I’m a self-proclaimed “foodie.”  When my family and I moved to Philadelphia in 2004, I had heard of its burgeoning restaurant scene and I was excited to see what the city had to offer.  In nine years, I’ve had many a meal – some good, some great and some spectacular.   But what I’ve learned from all of my tastings is that the difference between “good” and “spectacular” is often one special ingredient.

In business, the same can be said for hiring – it’s the person’s overall skill set and that one special attribute that can make the difference between “good” and “spectacular.”  Hiring is top of mind right now with college graduates flooding the marketplace.  At ParenteBeard, we are preparing to welcome more than one hundred new young professionals into our firm.   Although I hope all will find a lasting home with us, I know in reality, that won’t be the case.  When I discuss with our team why certain people become leaders at ParenteBeard and why others fizzle out, I often find myself coming back to that one special attribute – the special ingredient – that makes all the difference.

As an accounting firm, you might think that we simply look to hire the best accountants.  And we do.  But in the 21st century, our business is about so much more than debits and credits.  It’s about relationships.  When I was a young CPA, I thought I was hired because I was an excellent accountant.  But from my vantage point now, I realize that Chuck Parente, my mentor, hired me because I offered something a little different, a little special.  I didn’t just crunch the numbers; I knew what the numbers meant to my clients.  I had life experiences that allowed me to connect with our clients in a more personal way.  What Chuck saw was an entrepreneurial spirit.

That’s what we look for in the people we hire.  That’s our one special ingredient.  We have grown exponentially, to 1,000 employees since 2004, which is an accomplishment.  But we have only been successful in growing because we hired good, well-rounded people who know how to connect.  This has been especially true in our hiring of new college graduates.  Maybe it’s a graduate with a blended major in liberal arts and business or a graduate who worked two jobs to put him or herself through school.  Perhaps it’s a new graduate who was an NCAA Division I athlete or had a full-time internship.

These are the hires that have made us who we are today and when we’ve hired with our one special ingredient in mind, we’ve been able to go from simply “good” to “spectacular.”

I encourage you to share what your special ingredient is for hiring and how it has helped to shape and define your organization.

Thanks for stopping by.

2 Responses to The Special Ingredient

  1. April Papst says:

    I would like to echo Bob’s insight on the special attributes we seek during the hiring process and add a few thoughts. As a Talent Acquisition Specialist, I travel across the footprint of the firm and encounter thousands of eager accounting students each year, and there is a difference between “good” and “spectacular.” Those that are spectacular have demonstrated a mix of accountability, community involvement, social responsibility, motivation, and positive thinking throughout their academic and personal lives.

    In September, when the class of 2013 joins the firm, you will see these ingredients sprinkled throughout all of them. They each offer something unique and will continue to shape the firm.

  2. Bob Ciaruffoli says:

    April, so glad you touched on many aspects of our firm’s mission. Although each year there will be an impressive number of accounting graduates up for hire, it’s our aspiration to determine which of them are going to add value to the firm and the communities in which they reside. Those young professionals that take on extra responsibilities and show motivation early are often the first ones to offer our clients additional guidance. Our goal is to provide our clients expertise with the best teams in place. Thanks for the insights. Looking forward to meeting this class of 2013!

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