Getting to Know Your Board
Manny Schrager, email@example.com
Top Two Questions
When people get to know me, the two questions that invariably come up are:
“How can you work with your wife? My ______ and I wouldn’t last a day. We would kill each other.”
“How did you become a moderator?”
The two answers are actually one story.
Working with Andrea seemed to be a natural evolution. Both our parents worked together, mine in retail and Andrea’s in real estate, so we grew up in an environment where working with your spouse was quite normal. And when your parents work together, I can tell you that it involves the whole family. Family time was often a meeting of the de facto Board of Directors. Even when we were young, our parents sought out or were given our advice, whether asked for or not.
So what makes working together work? Probably a lot of the same things that make a marriage work.
- A short memory certainly helps. Get it off your chest and move on.
- Whenever you disagree, whomever it’s more important to wins.
- Different skill sets and backgrounds help. Mine is finance, Andrea’s marketing and marketing research.
- A great, supportive staff. Less than a year into our “merger,” Andrea and I were able to take an extended vacation in Brazil without having to worry if the business would still be there when we returned. We always remember that no matter what else is going on, there has to be time for the fun stuff.
- And speaking of fun stuff, you need to love what you do – and enjoy sharing it, day and night.
So now on to question two. How did I become a qualitative consultant?
It was not something I ever dreamed about in college. I was going to be a doctor (if it wasn’t for Organic Chemistry). It was not something I thought about in grad school while going for my MBA. Didn’t even know that kind of job existed. However, we all knew about the glamorous world of “big time” consulting and I was very happy to receive a consulting offer from Price Waterhouse.
When I joined PW (now PWC), our typical assignments were grounded in innovative thinking to develop results-oriented solutions. And what fun it was. For example, when you’re selling cars faster than you can bring them to the showroom (BMW), how do you get them there faster? You go to the docks, the shippers and the inventory management systems to find out where the real bottlenecks are and develop procedures to eliminate or avoid them. Or if a major factor in your profitability is how effectively you purchase commodities, how do you gauge the effectiveness of the commodity buyers? Well, you build a model to see how much the company would have spent if they had purchased the commodities when needed as opposed to covering their needs in the futures market.
Following my passion for problem solving, I left PWC and accepted the CFO position at a client. The company was a subsidiary of New York City-based Columbia Pictures and my position offered a clear career path to the parent company. My first (and only) year was very exciting (euphemism) as there was no shortage of problems to solve. However, one insurmountable problem did emerge: my company was sold to an outfit in Wisconsin, making relocation a requirement to stay. Now, believe me when I say that I have nothing against Wisconsin, just didn’t want to live there, and neither did Andrea.
So here’s where questions one and two converge.
Andrea had started Meadowlands Consumer Center a year earlier. While having dinner with my in-laws, Andrea’s dad said, “Why don’t you work with Andrea?” Sounded like a good plan to us, so I joined her soon after. Not only did we work together but we also shared an office. One desk, one phone, one computer but lots of piles of paper – stacked on top of each other’s. Now that is the true test of a relationship. Well, that was over two decades ago and we have never regretted the decision. Right, Andrea?
My consulting work at PWC certainly laid the groundwork for what was to come. My work there often consisted of engaging clients to discuss their objectives, reviewing their current methods, gathering information and developing actionable recommendations and implementation plans. Sound familiar? For my marketing research role, I did have to learn some new terminology, as financial types do speak a different language than marketers, but the transition was relatively easy. And the marketing folks tended to be a lot more fun than the “bean counters”.
So, my advice is that if you are thinking about working with your spouse, it is a truly wonderful sharing opportunity. There are no better successes than the ones you share, and even the lows are not so bad because you commiserate with someone who really understands.
Last note: I want to thank you all for putting your trust in me, allowing me to continue serving on the Board as VP this year. I have gotten so much from the QRCA in these past twenty-something years, at both the chapter and international level, that I am happy to have the opportunity to give back as well.
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