Interesting & Challenging Work

Leaning into leadership advisory

Written by Faith Bartell

5 Min Read

One of Siegfried’s 5 Promises to our employees is interesting and challenging work, which we know can mean different things to all of us. The unmatched exposure we provide to new projects, companies, environments, and industries is just one aspect of what we offer our Professionals, and we believe it’s an extremely powerful opportunity for our employees to elevate or even redefine what interesting and challenging work means to them on a very personal level. In this series, we’ll take a look at how the promise of interesting and challenging work comes alive for our Professionals.

Leadership advisory is powerful.

In nearly every situation, we have found that it is the key to building trusting and synergistic working relationships with our clients, driving professional success. Through leadership advisory, we help financial executives clarify and simplify their top priorities to enhance focus, organization, communication, execution, and innovation with respect to their key initiatives.

Richard Dhanpaul, a Senior Manager and Team Leader in Siegfried’s Florida market, understands the value that this of-service and relationship-based mindset can bring to engagements. At a client, Richard leveraged leadership advisory to set himself and Siegfried apart – leading to success on the initial project and creating the opportunity for interesting and challenging work that he never would have expected to come his way.

When Richard was first deployed for a financial statement project at his client’s support services location, he was told that he would be there for 30 days to help them get through the audit of their financial statements. But upon arrival, he found himself stressed and overwhelmed by the surprisingly competitive environment. There were multiple external professionals on the job, so he was vying for the same work on financial statements. Richard felt challenged to prove his worth, add exceptional value, and stand out.

“I’ve never been in a situation where we had to show the value we could add as compared to another firm – it was a very competitive environment,” reflected Richard. “I knew we had to have the right attitude and mindset to leave a lasting impact.”

A foot in the door

Richard quickly recognized that leadership advisory was the key that could unlock the door and make Siegfried stand out. He had taken an active interest in leadership advisory, and engaging in various Firm-wide calls, internal leadership advisory sessions, and MY Journey® events not only helped him focus on his personal life and goals, but also trained him to take that same approach with his clients. Richard additionally collaborated with his colleagues at the Firm and read books, including Brian Tracy’s Goals, to prepare him for engagements like this, where coaching and developing mutually beneficial relationships would be crucial to his success.

“The leadership advisory that I do is really just being of service,” explained Richard. “It’s asking questions like:

  • What can I help you with?
  • What are you stuck on?
  • What are the key priorities?
  • What does the CFO want us to get done?

You’re there to do the work, so these questions aren’t out of the blue. It’s just a matter of actually asking them, and it’s up to us, as leadership advisors, to lead the conversation.”

To break the ice and determine how he could best help the client with their needs, Richard took his director out to lunch. The two of them both enjoy sushi, so Richard used this interaction as the first building block for their relationship. And as Richard laughingly explained, he earned the Director’s respect by challenging him to a sushi-eating contest (which Richard won).

Initially, Richard was only supposed to be on this client for 30 days, but within two weeks of experiencing leadership advisory, the client phased out the other external professionals. Now, Richard has been there for more than two years and has brought on five additional Siegfried resources to work with him directly.

“I felt really proud that my client could see the value of leadership advisory and understand what a unique offering it is.”

Embracing new experiences

Richard’s proactive and genuine approach to clarifying his client’s goals propelled his growth and success in his initial role and beyond. After successfully working with the client’s international entities on the financial statement project, he was transferred to the mid-West for a different project, where he had to start from scratch and prepare the financial statements for a brand-new entity.

This was Richard’s first time being exposed to push down accounting and acquisitions, so it was a nerve-wracking, yet exciting learning experience. “I was challenged right off the bat with something completely new,” Richard shared.

With a tight deadline of three months, Richard’s team went right down to the last day to complete the audit. “We got it done, and I think that was what kind of made my name, but in some ways, Siegfried’s name. Now, we built so much trust as a Firm that we can be relied on to deliver in the toughest situations. I’m thrilled to know that I was a part of that.”

The power of relationships

While he was in the mid-West, Richard practiced leadership advisory with his Controller every day. From helping each other out with their careers, to the simple things, like taking an interest in each other’s personal lives and families, Richard formed a connection with the Controller that promoted synergy at work and individual improvement beyond the scope of the project.

Richard inspired her to start on her CPA, and he used his of-service mindset to point her in the direction of useful study tools and motivate her toward taking the exam. Conversely, she was a Microsoft Excel expert, and she repaid the favor by showing him some tips and tricks. They were able to learn from each other. “We have a great relationship, and it’s one that I’m going to keep for the rest of my life,” said Richard. “If you really try to have genuine relationships with people, it goes a long way.”

But the benefits of leadership advisory aren’t confined to the office, and Richard translates the practices he employed at his client into his personal life as well.

“When was the last time you asked your parents how you could be of service to them? Is there someone in your personal life who you could lend a helping hand to? This is what leadership advisory really gets down to – asking the right people the right questions.”

Continued service and growth

Having a proactive, of-service, and relationship-oriented mindset has inspired success in all facets of Richard’s life. At his client, he leveraged leadership advisory to make the best out of a tough situation and build long-term, strategic connections that have had a positive impact on his career, his life, and the Firm.

And Richard’s journey isn’t done yet. After his stint in the mid-West, he transitioned to Las Vegas for a similar rebranding project, where he built out the client’s accounting systems and reporting and helped to create valuations for all assets and liabilities, come up with good will, and complete other acquisition processes. Again, he was only supposed to be in Vegas for two months, but through his hard work and the close personal relationships he developed, Richard became an invaluable asset to the team. He then began working closely with the CFO on a FASB project, and he even made a brief return to Indiana, lending a helping hand on the year-end audit following significant internal changes.

“It’s been this crazy rollercoaster, and it’s something that I never could’ve dreamed about before coming to Siegfried,” reflected Richard. “I’m grateful for leadership advisory because that’s the key to how I was able to be here for so long and have these opportunities. I can’t tell you how many times my director has vouched for me, mentioned my name to the CFO, and recommended me for harder projects – and that all goes back to the trust that I was able to develop through leadership advisory.”

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