11) How do you measure success for yourself? I believe that I have achieved middling success professionally (smiles). I measure success by my children’s happiness and success. The accomplishments of my kids are probably the biggest measure followed by the type of family we have and the experiences we have shared. We’ve travelled most of the world and we’ve done a lot of the things we wanted to do.
12) Has anyone helped shape your approach to business and management? Yes, I would say my first boss out of university and my hiring manager at Canada Starch both became mentors and shaped me a lot. I also had the reverse situation that was also important because you learn so much from negative management. The great bosses deliver the learning to you in a positive way and you trust each other. Trust in the relationship will breed a positive outcome because you can explore mistakes in a safe environment and learn from them. When you have a bad boss you learn that success can be achieved in many different ways and how the differences are important and how they contribute to your professional development. Both types of bosses offer tremendous learning experiences.
13) How did each job or experience build your skillset? Each job or experience I have had has taught me different things.
- University gave me strong technical skills.
- Fletchers honed my ability to deliver technical outcomes and do them very quickly. When I returned to work for them the exposure in commodities and hedging and retail was incredible as they were complex and fun transactions. The highlight there was the Expo 86 business, which we won for something like 100 million hot dogs. We won that piece of business by a quarter of a penny per pound. We did an analysis of all of our competitors’ bids on different RFP’s and created an understanding of what they would bid. We predicted they would bid 1.04 and so we bid 1.0375. Working at Fletchers taught me about customer interaction and the variety of personalities that you can run into the business markets.
- SWAN Finance taught me much about sales. I learned that making sales calls is an incredibly difficult thing to do well. This made me appreciate the process and people who work in sales. I learned the value of trust in the sales relationship. I saw how difficult it was to go to the business section of the phone book and dial with the hope of making a sale.
- Hallmark taught me the value of curiosity and how to ask the right questions to uncover the information.
- Canada Starch was a revisit of my technical skills. I also learned people management and relationship management. I had some amazing things happen in the first 3 months of being there. I was in an budget objectives meeting with the CEO and the business directors were presenting their forecast objectives. There was a fairly rapid exchange of positions where the CEO made clear the directions and expectations that were required. I learned to be prepared. The business environment was candid and open and if you got talking in a politically correct way without openness you were shredded.
- At OPA I learned that collaboration is very critical. I’ve also cultivated an appreciation for the nuances that politics brings to agency operations.
14) What advice would you give new graduates who are looking at accounting and finance as a career?
- Be curious and don’t be afraid to talk to senior level people because 99% of the time they want to talk to you and help. You get yourself well known throughout the organization and it shows that you are interested in learning things.
- Don’t be afraid to debate with senior level people to get a better understanding.
Terry Gabriele, CMA is very clear about his priorities. While he values work and career, it is clear that he measures success by the happiness of his children and family. His career choices reflect this prioritization. His career was carved out of a love for following the learning, for ‘sticking his nose’ into new challenges and by embracing lessons from both good and difficult bosses. He has managed to achieve a high degree of work/life balance in a career that typically demands long hours and total commitment. He is happy and will tell you openly that life is good. While he references serendipity as being responsible for his success in part, it is evident that wise choices, careful positioning and an openness to change were truly what allowed him to become an accomplished finance executive and a contented man.
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