Tom Wellman (2011) Print
Tom Wellman is a senior financial executive who recently accepted a position as Chief Accounting Officer, Senior Vice President and Controller for Ports America in Phoenix, AZ.  Ports America is the premier stevedoring company in the U.S.
 
What were your most challenging issues in looking for a new position after relocating from Hawaii to the Philadelphia area? 
  • Identifying and getting introduced to target companies, regional recruiters and key networkers.
  • Coming from so far away, it was challenging to gain credibility in the local job market.  Companies and people didn’t know me or my past employers and didn’t have a reason to work with me. Kelleher Associates helped me to gain credibility in a community that is very ‘local.’
  • Learning about the Mid-Atlantic business community.
  • Determining which companies would be both great to work for and a good cultural fit for me.
  • Settling into the job search routine after not having had to look for a job since college.
  • Staying motivated in the search.
You were open to a number of senior financial roles – Chief Financial Officer, Chief Accounting Officer and Controller, for example. How did you pick and choose the positions to pursue and was Kelleher helpful to you in making these selections?
 
My coach, Mitch Wienick, helped me evaluate my skills and experience, determine which types of roles would be most relevant to my background and interests, prioritize my goals, develop good marketing materials, research companies, screen opportunities, and build relationships with people that would not only help with the job search but that would be life-long friends.
 
You took advantage of Kelleher’s mock interview process which was recorded and constructively critiqued. How did this help you during your search process?
 
I thought my interview skills were very good before I did the mock interviews and the video interview.  This was a wake-up call!  While my basic communication skills were great, there were some glaring issues that came up that were easy to fix.  Not only did the improved skills help me in the job search, but this was a great refresher for lazy habits formed over many years.  I’ve used the communication skills that Mitch and Jim Miller discussed with me many times during my on-boarding.  It was a good reminder that critical communication skills are important whether in a job search or in other life/business encounters. 
 
An executive search firm contacted you about the Ports America Chief Accounting Officer position. How did that come about and did Kelleher add value in helping you work with the recruiting firm?
 
Kelleher helped me network in a wide range of venues.  The goal was to keep my name active for any relevant search in any of my relevant roles, industries, and geographic preferences.  Mitch kept telling me to keep networking and that it only takes one good contact to make the job happen. 
 
Mitch also helped me to screen recruiting firms so that I could focus on those that would be most useful to me.  There are lots of recruiters in the market, but some are not very helpful and, in some cases, even worked counter to my objectives.  Mitch was great at screening these firms and helping me focus.
 
Negotiating an employment agreement can be daunting as most executives don’t do this very frequently. Was Kelleher helpful in this phase of the process and how so?
 
Yes. Mitch helped me determine which benefits were being offered for comparable positions and, recognizing that not all of these benefits would be offered, helped me prioritize which benefits to go after.  He was also a great resource for determining the appropriate level of benefits.  As they say on the farm –”pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered;” - our goal was to get the best agreement that we could get without losing the opportunity.
 
What advice would you give to others looking for their next position, especially if they have to consider relocating for a favored position? 
  • Network everywhere! 
  • Keep the network alive even after you land a position.
  • Help others network – it’s really rewarding to help others.
  • Respond to others quickly, but don’t be pushy.
  • Don’t overlook or eliminate any options; I found opportunities through past vendor relationships, insurance companies, CPA firms, banks, attorneys, neighbors, people that were standing in line at the mall, networking groups, and even job boards like Monster and Career Builder.
Are there any tools, techniques, or resources that Kelleher provided or suggested to you that proved to be especially valuable in your search process? 
  • The style assessments helped to reaffirm how I viewed myself and my competencies.
  • Connecting me to networking groups like GPSEG and ExecuNet.
  • Providing LinkedIn training.
  • Coaching during the hard times along with the staff’s support and encouragement.
  • Providing office space and computer access– some days it was hard to work at home so going to the Kelleher office helped motivate me to keep going.
Would you recommend Kelleher Associates to others and why?
 
Absolutely!  This firm is the most highly respected career transition and executive coaching firm in the Greater Philadelphia Area. They understand the challenges of being in transition and the consulting team works together to coach and motivate candidates.  Kelleher provided the resources that I needed during my relocation to Philadelphia and my subsequent search process. 
 
Going through a job transition in this job market is one of the hardest things that an executive can do. Mitch and his team are experts in knowing what to do (and what not to do) and can guide candidates through this challenging period.  Hiring Mitch was worth every penny (and more) and I would absolutely hire the Kelleher team again!