Farid - Chief Operating Officer

Farid - Chief Operating Officer

Client: Farid was executive vice president of operations and technology for a private, midsize insurance and professional employer organization.

Industry: Human Resources, Insurance, Financial Services

Function: Operations, Technology, Digital Transformation, Change Management, Program Delivery, Consulting

Challenge: After years of consulting and limited-engagement work, Farid wanted a full-time position. Landing a role, however, proved more difficult than he expected.

Process: Farid learned how to unlock opportunities by reconnecting with people, building relationships, and staying focused on his job search plan.

Landing: A former colleague referred Farid to the CEO of a small, managing general underwriter who wanted to expand his business and hired Farid as COO to help him do it.


Farid spent three years as the VP of operations and technology for a private, $2.4 billion insurance and professional employer organization (PEO). The company began as a consulting client of Farid’s. Farid has pursued this line of work after retiring as senior VP/global CIO of a large, publicly traded underwriter of insurance products a few years earlier. Company leaders then asked him to join full-time, in a limited-engagement capacity, to set the PEO business up with new technology systems and operations. They also wanted him to help transform the tech team and processes of the insurance arm of the company. Farid did so, with the goal of ensuring the company would ultimately be self-sustainable without him.

When his mission was complete, Farid parted ways with the organization. As he began to plan his next move, he realized that resuming consulting had lost appeal. 

“I knew I could get consulting work, but I wanted to focus on getting a full-time role,” said Farid. “I don’t feel as fulfilled by developing a business strategy and then walking away. I enjoy being part of a team and getting things done. I want that sense of ownership and seeing things through.”

Soon thereafter, Farid learned of an opportunity as CIO of an insurance company in the Midwest that seemed perfect for him. He applied. To his great surprise, he didn’t get the job.

“I thought it was a slam dunk. I had all the experience and qualifications, but I wasn’t even a finalist. I wondered what was missing. I could have done that job with my eyes closed, yet I lost out,” said Farid. “It was then that I considered that I had never conducted a serious job search in my career. I had come to all my jobs organically. It was time for me to refresh my approach.”

A few years earlier, Farid had hired a company to help him update his resume and improve his interview skills, but this time he wanted to find a more professional company – one that could offer greater support and a proven methodology to career management. He found The Barrett Group© (TBG) and decided its program was worth investing in.

In the first part of the TBG program, Farid worked with Clarity coach, Justin Helman, to reassess his career goals. Together, they also worked on identifying Farid’s strengths and areas needing work, and how he might optimize communication with people of different personality types.

“Justin was very professional and relaxed. There were no revelations, but it was good validation and an opportunity for me to refocus on gaps. I make my decisions and opinions quickly, for example, and I sometimes pull the trigger without thinking enough about the people and personalities that I’m interacting with. It was good to have a reset.” 

After Clarity, Farid began working with career consultant, Anne Lipsitz, to develop his job search campaign. 

“I loved working with Anne. Her approach, the way we went through the resume piece, the putting together of a marketing plan, networking, making those goals, making sure I stayed focused on those goals…it was all great!” said Farid.

Farid’s resume didn’t end up changing much, but the way he presented his professional experience to the world changed significantly. 

“The changes to my LinkedIn profile were important. The story that went with my resume was important. The way I presented myself and talked about my different roles was what was different about this process. And it was Anne who helped me know how best to elaborate on my strengths and successes.”

What was also very different for Farid was how Anne coached him to nurture his network. 

“Networking is something I always did, but it was for selfish purposes. Once in a while, I would help people or they would help me, but I never took an interest in their personal or even professional lives. My career success has been built on delivery. I delivered what I was supposed to deliver, and I expected others to do the same. My network just happened to be people I knew,” said Farid. “Anne, however, encouraged me to reach out and talk to people about nothing in particular and to offer to help them with my expertise.” 

Being a person of few words, Farid felt uncomfortable with this new approach but, eventually, he got into it. 

“I got encouragement from people I talked to. They didn’t think it was weird that I was calling to shoot the breeze. It felt good to reconnect with them. I also got to help people with different challenges they were facing. Anne put scripts together for me. And if I got no response, she would suggest a new approach or write up a new script.  Sometimes my efforts were successful and sometimes they weren’t. But I was doing a lot more than if I had been job searching on my own. If I had been on my own, I would have given up on building social capital.”

Farid worked the program diligently, and it wasn’t without frustrations. When, after five months, Farid was still having little success, he suggested to Anne that they consider other job search options. 

“Anne said, ‘No, we will do this for another one to two months before we discuss other options.’ As it turns out, her encouragement and persistence in staying the course were the key to my success because, in the end, it was a person in my network that I never would have called who helped me land my current role.”

In building his social capital, Farid reconnected with someone he had known earlier in his career but had fallen out of touch with. Over several months they rekindled their relationship. Then, one day, out of the blue, Farid got a call from the CEO of a small, managing general underwriter of a specialty line of farm and agricultural products, who said that Farid’s old colleague had referred him because of his expertise in growing companies and putting processes in place. The CEO explained that he had tripled the size of his insurance business in the last three years, and he wanted to double it again within two years. Would Farid like to be part of his team? 

Farid was skeptical.

“I told Anne that I thought the company was too small for me. But she insisted that there was no harm in my talking to them, so I did. We agreed that I would give the CEO advice on his operations and goals on a consulting basis.” 

Farid got to work. But, as he learned more about the company, he realized that his former colleague, who is co-founder of a private equity firm, happened to be the owner of the small company and was very much in support of the CEO’s business venture. It was now clear to Farid that there was, indeed, a path for this ambitious CEO to hit his growth goals – and even exceed them! That was very interesting to him.

Before long, the CEO approached Farid again, this time with a job offer to be COO.   

“We started the hiring process. Anne helped me with the interview prep. It was very helpful to be able to rehearse my answers with her in advance and practice articulating my strengths and weaknesses.” 

Farid accepted the role, receiving compensation in line with what he wanted and, for the first time, working fully remotely, a change he quite relishes. He is very happy with his new position, and he credits Anne a lot for his job search success. 

“Having someone holding me accountable and keeping me focused was really important. Every time I hit a brick wall, Anne would have suggestions of things to do. She was encouraging and kept me sane and motivated. If not for her encouragement, my landing would never have happened. I would probably have resigned myself to being a consultant forever.”

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. Photo: 123rf.com

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