Category: InterSearch USA – Charles Aris, Inc.

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Matching top FP&A talent with organizational needs

One senior leader at a global private equity firm once admitted to us that the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) in its portfolio companies was a disaster. He went on to explain that he and his firm-level colleagues were frequently swooping in to patch things up before eventually seeing the same problems crop up a month later.

 Who can blame him? Finding the right talent is incredibly challenging, given the fast-paced marketplace and often-inadequate systems which do not fully enable the necessary extraction of information for FP&A professionals to properly perform the functions of their roles.

 Meeting your team’s FP&A needs is one of the most difficult yet important responsibilities in every organization. Even more challenging? There is no template on how exactly to address those needs. Variables include the size of the business; where the business exists in its life cycle; the types of products produced and / or services offered (B2B vs. B2C); and the general needs of the organization.

Understandably, those general needs have evolved over the years as companies sometimes struggle to keep up. To help, we have identified three types of FP&A pros:


This is how FP&A has always been considered, but don’t mistake “traditional” for outdated. Many companies still need a CPA who comes from the Big Four Public Accounting Firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PwC) and has a structured accounting background. This professional is needed to create spreadsheets and run macros to produce trend analysis, variance analysis and price-volume mix analysis. They essentially plan, monitor and report on revenue and expenses.

None of this seems cutting edge, but adequately satisfying those needs will result in meeting FP&A requirements in many companies. Businesses which are more mature and don’t have that “hockey-stick growth” don’t need a complex FP&A skill set, so a more traditional solution may be the most appropriate.


This is where most Charles Aris clients are today. Modern FP&A leaders not only have an accounting background (CPA) but a well-rounded business view (MBA) as well. They leverage more analytics and business intelligence technologies to provide quantitative / analytical support to decision-making. The modern approach takes the collective view of what needs to be done from a planning and analysis standpoint at the corporate level and incorporates each of the different business units.

Cutting edge

This individual has all the skill sets mentioned above and then some. In addition to being a CPA and MBA, the ideal professional is a computer and data scientist who leverages technology to create real-time analytics and dashboards and provides integrated and collaborative planning that spans the entire organization.


Finding the perfect FP&A candidate differs depending on the needs of each client organization. As the aforementioned private equity executive shared with us, matching the proper pool of talent with the right organization is a difficult task, but it can be done with expertise and experience behind the wheel.


by Ryan Morgan and David Portney

Charles Aris Inc.


charles aris, Executive Search, InterSearch, Top Talent

Rise of the human capital function

In recent years, the human capital function has not so secretly become one of the most critical and highly valued areas of business, moving from back-office support to a front-end strategic role in driving organizations forward. That trend continues in 2021.

At Charles Aris Executive Search, we continue to see organizations upgrading the function by bringing on more strategic human capital leaders. Many CEOs increasingly view chief human resources officers as one of the most important – and sometimes the most important – leaders on their senior leadership teams.

There are many reasons why, but the biggest factor may not surprise you: people. More and more organizations are realizing that people are their greatest asset. Getting the right people in the right seats is important for any organization, but it doesn’t stop there. Employee engagement and development are crucial for driving results. A more engaged workforce tends to be a more productive workforce, and leaders are realizing that now more than ever.

Another key factor in the ongoing rise of the human capital function is strategic leadership. As CEOs and senior leadership teams set the strategic plans for their organizations and think about where they want to be in the next three to five years and beyond, they increasingly understand that the right CHRO will align a human capital strategy with the business strategy to better meet those goals and objectives. While the term “business partner” gets thrown around a lot these days, it’s a true reflection of the CHRO’s relationship with all senior leaders.

As executives recognize the rising value of a strategic human capital function, they realize that the right CHRO will be as much an advocate for their organization as they are an advocate for their employees. Not to say that HR is no longer “all about the people,” but we’re seeing increased demand for CHROs who are organizational leaders first and HR leaders second. The CHRO really serves as a liaison between an organization and its people, helping both sides achieve their goals and do what’s right.


by Derek Gracey
Senior Associate Practice Leader at Charles Aris Executive Search 

charles aris, Executive Search, Human Capital Management, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide

How to answer interview questions like a pro

Whether you’re participating in a quick catch-up call with a recruiter or sitting down for an official interview, your communication style and the way you answer questions will play a large role in the impression you leave on that organization.

As you read through these tips, consider how they can also apply to conversations outside the occasional interview:

1) Listen and understand: Before you jump in to answer a question, ensure you fully understand what’s being asked. If you’re unsure … ask for clarification! It’s better to ask than to answer a question you don’t understand. Once you have a complete understanding of the question in front of you, don’t be afraid to take a moment to think through your answer. Most interviewers and recruiters would rather sit in a few moments of awkward silence than listen to you ramble because you’re not sure how to respond.

  • Pro tip: You can even say, “Great question! Can I take a minute to think through my answer?”

2) Answer first, provide detail later: When asked a question, it can be frustrating for the interviewer if you immediately start going into detail about an answer you haven’t actually revealed yet. Directly answer the question first and then start to give the key details that support it.

  • Pro tip: After answering the question directly, you could ask the interviewer, “How much detail would you like on this topic?”

3) Pay attention to how long you’re talking: If you feel like you’ve been talking for too long , you probably have. Our attention spans are shorter than ever, and if you spend five minutes answering a question without stopping to allow your interviewer to interject, it’s likely they’re not fully taking in what you’re saying.

  • Pro tip: Once you realize you’ve been talking too long, ask your interviewer, “Is this good, or should I give more detail?”

4) Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have an answer: Here’s the deal, if you respond to a question you clearly don’t know the answer to but try to come up with something on the fly, people will notice. To avoid sounding like you’re rambling about a topic you’re not prepared to discuss, just admit you don’t have an answer and let the interviewer take the lead from there.

  • Pro tip: If you feel uncomfortable telling the interview you don’t have an answer, consider saying something to the effect of, “I don’t have that experience, but this is how I’d approach that …”

5) Stick to the question at hand: The interviewer will ask you all the questions they want answered, so don’t take it upon yourself to answer five more questions they never even asked. It’s also likely you’re going off topic a bit, so right the ship and answer the question that was asked.

  • Pro tip: Put yourself on the other side of the table and think, “If I was the interviewer, how would I want this answered?”

6) Quantify, quantify, quantify: Data supports facts, and whenever you can use concrete numbers to support your statements, the more likely your interviewer will have confidence that what you’re saying you can achieve is actually true.

  • Pro tip: Before your interview, think through project-specific questions you may be asked and write down [accurate] data points that can support your potential answer.

7) Ask meaningful questions: The questions you ask your interviewer are just as important as the questions you answer. Be thoughtful about them and make each one related to the interview. Avoid resorting to the generic questions that you quickly Googled right before. Do your homework and really dive in deep.

  • Pro tip: Imagine yourself in the role and write down three to five umbrella questions you’d want answered before your first day.


by Heather Kivett and Sydney Olszewski
Charles Aris Executive Search

charles aris, Executive Search, InterSearch, InterSearch Worldwide, interview

Executive recruiters’ favorite books and podcasts for 2021

It’s a new year, so you likely sat down before the end of 2020 to create a list of goals to accomplish in 2021. If reading more or finding a new podcast is on that list, we have a collection of great suggestions directly from some of our firm’s recruiting experts:


Chad Oakley, Chief Executive Officer
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz

Greg Harper, Senior Vice President
“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey

Caroline Wilson, Vice President
“How I Built This” by Guy Raz (podcast)

Steven Stewart, Vice President
“Revisionist History” by Malcolm Gladwell (podcast)

Jill Jitima, Vice President
“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson

Sarah Becker, Vice President
“The Other 90%: How to Unlock your Vast Untapped Potential for Leadership and Life” by Robert K. Cooper

Ashlee Wagner, Vice President
“Untamed” by Glennon Doyle

Jody Karavanic, Vice President
“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

TJ Deal, Practice Leader
“The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and one Legendary House” by Norman Eisen

Ryan Morgan, Associate Practice Leader
“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou


by Josh Kotelnicki
Associate Practice Leader at Charles Aris Inc.

2021, books and podcasts, charles aris, Executive Search, InterSearch

Kijak earns promotion to senior associate recruiter at Charles Aris Executive Search

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Executive search firm Charles Aris Inc. has promoted Cates Kijak, a valued team member who recruits across multiple practices, to senior associate recruiter.

Since 2018, Kijak has been an active participant in each stage of the firm’s 14-Step Priority Search Process. Her support alongside Charles Aris practice leaders and clients – locating and landing leaders who are qualified, available and interested in mission-critical roles – has enabled her to build and manage strong relationships with those she serves daily.

Cates Kijak

“I feel fortunate to be part of an organization like Charles Aris,” Kijak said. “We have the constant support of a dynamic leadership team, and working alongside such passionate and hardworking team members is incredible. To know that every day we get the opportunity to partner with hiring authorities and help them find world-class talent to strengthen their teams and organizations is an amazing feeling.”

Before joining Charles Aris, Kijak worked as a regional office manager for the American Heart Association to connect corporate sponsors and volunteers, positively impacting health and wellness across communities. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies from Flagler College after obtaining her associate’s degree in mass communication from the Pennsylvania College of Technology.

Charles Aris practice leader TJ Deal considers Kijak a rising star in the firm – and one who has grown to be invaluable in the corporate development space.

“Her natural ability to recruit, advise and build relationships with top corporate talent is far beyond her tenure,” Deal said. “We’re lucky to have her.”

Kijak’s commitment to world-class service, strong work ethic, grit and resilience sets the gold standard for current and future associates alike, said Charles Aris chief operating officer Allen Oakley.

“The Charles Aris family is excited about Cates’ well-deserved promotion,” Oakley added. “She consistently leans in with assisting critical firmwide initiatives, and her innovative approach to solving problems is exceptional. We’re eager to see what she’ll do in this expanded role!”


by Madison Nance

Marketing Associate at Charles Aris Inc.

Cates Kijak, charles aris, earns promotion, Executive Search, InterSearch

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