Sunday, November 8, 2009

Introduction and Background

As far as business goes consultants are often brought in to fulfill a valuable role in an organization. They help make decisions when there is a lack of expertise. They simplify and identify critical problems which might have gone unnoticed and thus saved the company. They may even provide implementation guidance to technologies or processes which a business owner just doesn’t have the time to deal with. Whatever the reason for the consultant entering your organization a “good” consultant will never leave you feeling like you wasted your money. Unfortunately not all consultants are “good” and while that doesn’t mean they are “bad” consultants, it just means that the expectations of their skills or your results were not well aligned. However at the end of the day, for the price consultants get paid, you never want to feel that the money spent was a waste.

The purpose of this blog is to bring consulting to the small and medium sized business owner who lacks the resources to risk the money on a consultant. The blog will contain posts about all aspects of business from HR and Finance to Marketing and Sales. The posts will not come from “industry experts” who work in a 5,000 employee, multi-billion dollar conglomerate, but from business area specialists who work for small family owned businesses and medium sized companies. The contributors will draw on their own workplace experiences and point out lessons to be learned or problems to be aware of that they had to solve. This is no different than what a high priced consultant would do, but instead of paying for the service, it is free.

I understand that some people will be skeptical of the quality and value of free consulting, especially considering how much money is paid to the "big 5" consulting companies for an hour of their time. However in an effort to demonstrate the value of this blog I will provide an academic and employment background for all contributing consultants starting with myself. These bios should demonstrate that leaders and experts don't always work for the big guys, sometimes they work for you.

My name is Asaad and I am 28 years old. I have a B.S. in Finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. I have an MBA in Finance, core concentration of corporate finance, from Temple University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I also have an MBS in Human Resource Management from the University of Limerick in Limerick, Ireland. I know I seem like a career academic however after attaining my MBA I served for 2.5 years as an internal operations and managerial consultant for a billion dollar asset thrift (bank) in Florida. The job entailed a wide assortment of tasks including reorganizing non-performing business units, compliance operations, and my favorite task of all (and the inspiration for the blog) verifying the results/practicality of outside consultant recommendations which were often wrong or impracticable for the organization.

I left my position at the bank as a result of a merger in 2007 and spent six months working as a trainee inspector for an engineering firm that specialized in road construction and maintenance. It was quite a career change going from the suit-and-tie bank environment to the jeans-and-boot environment of road construction and I learned a lot about the challenges of running a medium sized, multi-location business. Ultimately the job had me attending board meetings when my supervisors couldn’t make them, coordinating efforts of the inspectors, being a sounding board for the supervisors who were aware of my white collar experience, and inter-office driver/courier. My favorite part of the job was working with the various contractors on the job site and learning that a lot of what doesn’t really seem like a business actually is. I held the blue-collar position for six months but left to take advantage of a scholarship opportunity in Ireland.

Upon returning to the U.S. amidst the new depression I was fortunate enough to take a job within a small family business and currently I am the Vice President of Finance for two conjoined commercial food equipment dealers in the North Shore suburbs of Boston. The companies I work for have a combined workforce of 8 not including the 3 owners. One company has been in business for over a decade and the other has been operating less than three years. The companies currently have combined revenues of around $5 Million. On a day-to-day basis I oversee accounting and bookkeeping operations as well as maintain controls over cash management. Included in the cash management function is maintaining accounts payable and accounts receivables as well as utilizing a $250,000 Line of Credit to make sure the company doesn’t forfeit its manufacturer's rebates. Ultimately I am responsible for the overall financial health of the organizations by guiding a seasoned small business owner to find innovations and helping a new small business owner to achieve organizational goals.

My blog contributions will cover both practical and theoretical elements of business which draw upon my varied experiences and education. As one of the owners I work for always asks, “what’s the opinion in the classroom?” during meetings due to my propensity to analyze both the theoretical and practical applications of our operations. I think that theory is the history of practice and to get ahead you have to understand the history, or be doomed to repeat it. He thinks theory is nothing more than people who couldn’t cut it trying to influence those who can. Despite our philosophical differences he values my input and I hope you will too.

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