When you’re contemplating a career in finance, it’s important to keep your eyes on what you love. Many individuals make the mistake of choosing the career path that they feel will earn them the highest income, or perhaps the path that will most quickly solidify their reputation. However, OneWire CEO Skinny von Stade’s CEO interviews illustrate why it’s passion—and not income—that should dictate your choice in profession.
A perfect example of this philosophy is Ann Mehl, who is currently the CEO of her own coaching group. She arrived at that position by focusing her attention on the tasks she loved to do, rather than on those that earned her the most accolades. When she realized that coaching people was what inspired her passion, she reshaped her whole career to focus on that, instead of a more traditional finance profession.
“I had … been in recruitment, as a headhunter, for over 9-and-a-half years,” Mehl told us during her exclusive interview. “I was in the business of search—I was helping people transition into new jobs. I loved that work. What I found was that sitting with individuals, even if I didn’t have an opening for them, was something that appealed to me even more so than only bringing [those people] up to my space when I could close a deal.”
Once Mehl realized her passion, she changed up her approach entirely. She found that her “sweet spot” wasn’t so much in recruiting, but in offering advice, and matching up applicants to jobs and assignments that suited them perfectly. In 2005, she decided to get her coaching certification and start up her own business.
Nothing is more important than energy
When you’re applying for finance positions, such as accounting jobs and technology jobs, it’s important that you be invested in the field itself. As Mehl illustrated, nothing is more valuable than a legitimate passion for your industry. That passion manifests itself via energy—which she told us is the number one quality an executive or applicant needs to find success in the industry.
“The first thing I think about is energy,” Mehl told von Stade. “We used to talk about this in recruiting a lot, we would meet two different candidates … we would say, ‘Who had both elbows on the table? Who was leaning into this opportunity a bit more than the other person?’ Positive energy. That means that [the applicant] is not whining about an issue, or trying to blame someone, or telling me they haven’t slept or eaten in days. That goes a long way—that’s positive energy.”
Mehl concluded her thought by noting that individuals who are driven by passion and filled with positive energy are most often willing to work hard to improve themselves. Professionals in the finance industry need to be constantly moving forward – there’s no trait less attractive to hiring managers than a lack of drive. Mehl told us that she is always on the lookout for the type of potential employee who is willing to improve themselves at any cost.
“The other thing I find inspiring is when I find someone who’s willing to do the work on themselves, meaning they’re self-aware enough to say ‘I’m going to make mistakes,’ … I think about vulnerability a lot as a really powerful trait in trying to lead a company or lead a team,” she testified. “I often say to folks, when you get to the meeting, if you’re nervous … admit it … the [hiring manager] is human, and they’ll relate to you more if you share it.”