It’s true, I’ve changed jobs, and not only that, I am no longer self-employed or working as a consultant.
I haven’t worked as a regular employee at a regular firm for 17 years. Holy cow!
I officially started on Monday of this past week, full time, at Energy+ Inc. as the Manager, Business Solutions. Energy+ is a Local Distribution Company (LDC) regulated by the Ontario Energy Board, delivering hydro (electricity) to approximately 65,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Township of North Dumfries and County of Brant. They are a Dynamics GP customer (& GPUG member) who I have been providing consulting services to on and off over the past 2.5 years.
What will I be doing?
My role entails being responsible for seeking continuous improvements to the business application solutions and related processes of the company. The intention is to take advantage of existing investments in business applications such as Dynamics GP, and Harris Northstar, their CIS application. I will also be in a position to evaluate potential new technology solutions, where there is a need and fit (and no, that is not an invitation to spam me now with your “great” product, please and thanks!).
I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of an internal consultant, providing many of the same types of services that I had already been providing them such as process review & improvements, software implementations & upgrades, automation, improved reporting, and project management, to name a few.
Why did I make the change?
This is a harder question to answer to be perfectly honest. I wasn’t looking for a job, let’s start with that. Over the years, I have had many customers and partners ask me if I was interested in discussing roles with them. Frankly, as much as I have worked with some great people during the course of my career, I’ve never been in an environment where I could actually see myself working for that particular person or that particular firm, for various reasons whether that be a cultural fit, how they go about their business or otherwise. Nothing has ever come close to even considering making a change.
So, why now? What’s so special about a hydro company? People + Variety + Opportunity would be the short answer I guess. A little of the decision was simply “it’s the right time”, but I still wasn’t just going to start looking for jobs, I was *very* happily and proudly self-employed.
At one point during the summer of 2016, my boss (the CFO, Sarah Hughes) asked me if I would ever consider full-time employment. While I was honoured, at that time I couldn’t see where there would be a role in the organization that I would be happy with, enough to give up my business. It might have been there at that time, but I wasn’t ready. I knew I loved working with her, and her (their) staff. So, we kept our business relationship as-is and we worked through a lot more business process improvement types of projects and it was a lot of fun.
After another year of that, this time I approached her and re-opened the discussion that she has started with me a year earlier. By that time, we had been working closely together, meeting weekly for over 2 years and instead of the potential project list shrinking in size as I worked on various initiatives, it was growing! It was clear there was a lot of opportunity here and no shortage of potential improvements to work on, and that was just around Dynamics GP and related products and processes. The projects were all over the map and provided a ton of variety of things to work on, which is what has kept me busy and excited about the opportunities all this time.
Even though I am a designated accountant, I was not looking for an Accounting/Finance type of role, even if that was only part of the role. I love what I do, and I love what I was helping them with, and I wanted to continue that kind of work if it was at all possible. We have been working through the details ever since, for the last several months, starting with a long time discussing what the role might look like, where it would fit and who it would report into. It was important to me that I continue to report to Sarah Hughes, and that is the case, my role reports into the CFO.
Nearly a missed opportunity
I first was introduced to Energy+ Inc. via a recruiter. At that time, they were known as Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro and they had purchased Brant County Power, another LDC to the south of their service territory. They were looking to hire a project manager & Dynamics GP specialist to assist in the legal amalgamation of the two businesses. The project was exciting, lots of integration work, lots of review of processes etc. It was the fact I would be working through a recruiter that I couldn’t wrap my head around. Sorry recruiters, I’m simply not a fan of the system and the disparity in what the clients are charged vs. what you’re making out of that.
Every once in a while, you encounter someone in your career who you just click with and you’re on the same page before you even get to know each other. That’s how I felt when I met Sarah for the first time, in that initial interview. As we talked about the amalgamation project and the role they were recruiting for, it became very apparent that we thought through some of the challenges and opportunities on this nearly the exact same way. I really struggled with the decision to take that role because it came through a recruiter, but I’m glad I did. Months later, we worked to get out of the recruiting arrangement and I was able to work directly without the middle-man, which was better for both of us.
There have been many days lately when I think of that initial interview and my struggles with the decision to take on the role. Had there been other viable projects on the table at the time, the situation could have been quite different, and I’m very glad to have taken the plunge and gotten into this organization.
I’m looking forward to my role and the opportunities ahead. These are interesting times in the utility industry, particularly in Ontario with a lot of mergers & acquisitions occurring around us, as well as lots of initiatives in alternative energy sources and newer technologies. Energy+ is also a member of the GridSmartCity consortium which is yet another opportunity for them in the future.
Next steps for the business
I have some clean-up work to do where my business is concerned. For now, it will remain operating as I have some side projects that I will finish shortly. The active clients & prospects are all well aware of my news and I’ve already been in touch with the partners of those clients or potential new partners for them, where there may be a need to transition them to other means of support.
The business will remain open for the foreseeable future as I do have the odd recurring revenue stream that is unrelated to my delivery of services. This was my 3rd time being self-employed in some capacity in my career thus far and I expect it won’t be the last time I am self-employed. I have an entrepreneurial mindset and that will never change!
As far as my involvement in the Dynamics GP community, that will not change, although the travel may be a little more limited than in prior years. Expect to see me on the forums again and of course, this blog will remain active as I have no intention of giving up my MVP status without a fight!