In last month’s column, I began a multi-part series focused on the steps you need to take to gain a seat at the table with senior executives. In this second column in the series, we will continue the process and take you through the next step in your journey. The data gathered so far has included information on the company’s strategic plan and risk profile, as well as its corporate footprint, operations, supply chain, products, channels, markets and competitive landscape.
Now that you have this data, it is vital that you study it thoroughly. In the end, you need to be as familiar with the company as the CEO is, before you even consider having any discussions with senior executives. Start with compiling a list:
- Identify topics that are of strategic importance to the company in general.
- Develop a list that identifies each issue/risk that could have an impact on individual functions, the company, its brand/reputation, products/services offered by the company, its supply chain and channel, as well as its customers.
- Grab the organization chart and begin to list the various issues and risks under each function that could potentially be impacted.
- Quantify the potential impact of each issue/risk on individual functions and the potential an issue/risk impacting one function may have negative consequences for one or more other functions. Then do the same for the whole company.
- Conduct research on other companies in your sector that have dealt with similar issues/risks and what the impact was on their company.
- Compile a list of issues that other similar companies have experienced, but have yet to impact your company.
Scope Out The Terrain
You have probably amassed the most comprehensive list of issues/risks ever developed in the company and mapped them to the impact to each element of the company. This data is not only valuable for this process but will be invaluable in many other ways, which I will cover in more depth later in this series.
It’s critical that you now take the time to gain a thorough understanding of each senior executive and key function leader that you will interview as part of this process. Most companies have biographies of their senior leadership and other key leaders. If your company does not have those, reach out to the executive assistant for everyone on your list of leaders that will be interviewed. It is also advantageous to do some online searches to find out anything else that might be important to know about them. The ability to find something to build a connection with each person is critical in preparing for the interviews. It will also serve you well in the future.
Building rapport is the most important first step in gaining someone’s trust. That connection may be something as simple as similarities in your backgrounds. Perhaps you went to the same college, share interests in the similar charities, enjoy the same sports, or a host of other things. If you can’t find anything to foster that connection, find an achievement of some kind that you can complement them on. Remember one thing though... never, never make anything up, stretch the truth or come across as disingenuous in any way. Building trust and credibility is the foundation to building relationships with this group of folks who will ultimately be your key to that seat at the table.
I always appreciate feedback from readers on their experiences and anything that they have utilized in addition to the process I am covering. Sharing ultimately helps everyone in security leadership positions. Next month’s column will address the process of conducting the interviews.