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Career Spotlight

Due Diligence Supervisor

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If you are a people person, enjoy investigative research, have a knack for troubleshooting, and have a keen eye for details, you might want to check out a career as a supervisor in a due diligence firm. Alan T. did, and he never looked back.
So what is a due diligence firm? According to Alan, it is basically a background checking service that investigates businesses or individuals. Financial institutions and law firms who are considering a partnership, an acquisition or a potential major client, hire due diligence firms to help determine if the other party is fit to do business with. The term ‘due diligence’ refers to the processing of vast amounts of facts gathered from sources like state and county public records and the service provider’s database. The end result is a comprehensive report containing the objective interpretation of all the information which helps businesses come to a sound decision.

Checking Things Out

As the Client Relations Supervisor of a Washington-based due diligence service provider, Alan plays many roles. Not only is he in charge of ensuring customer satisfaction, he is also the leader of a large (and still growing) team. On a typical workday, Alan is at his desk by 8 o’clock. “My work hours actually begin at 9 a.m., but since we open at 5 a.m., even if I walk in an hour early, things are already in full swing,” says Alan.

First on the agenda is E-mail, which he checks religiously in case a client has a major issue. Next, Alan walks into a big room which holds 32 work stations or ‘pods’ to look in on his two teams: the Filing Department takes care of gathering information and feeding them into a massive database, while the Research Department pulls information from the database, public records and other sources, and then interprets and packages them into reports. “Spending time with each team’s members and making sure they have everything they need is vital if you want things to run smoothly,” emphasizes Alan. After seeing to the teams, he heads back to his office to review reports. “Our product is essentially a lot of confidential and critical information,” says Alan. “ I personally do a lot of QC to ensure the integrity of our output.” Alan is constantly on call in the event that some clients may need his attention. He also spends a large part of his day in meetings, particularly now that the company is restructuring to optimize its expansion.

Starting Over

Prior to all this, Alan used to live in California. When he relocated to Washington late 2002, he knew finding a new job would be a challenge, and so he braced himself for a long search and a lot of waiting. Despite having recently left a senior management position in a successful San Diego call center, he was aware that he may have to start at square one. Still, even with starting over in mind, Alan was getting disheartened. A job that fell through after a promising interview was the last straw. Deciding he wasn’t getting very far going at it on his own, Alan picked up the yellow pages and looked for the staffing provider he used back in California to find Temporary employees. Within the week, he was sitting in an interview at the Woodinville office with Account Executive Jennifer Brown. “Alan was very professional, looked very clean cut and carried himself well,” recalls Jennifer. “He was very personable as well as confident – you can tell he has managerial experience. At the same time, he was very modest and flexible. Alan made it clear that he was open to Temporary opportunities.”
It was these traits, as well as his impressive track record (his San Diego stint included five promotions within only six years) that made Alan come to mind when Jennifer received a job order two weeks later. “They are one of our top clients, and they just expanded and moved to this gorgeous new building. It was a dream work environment: high morale, casual dress, a beautiful new building with gorgeous views. However, the clients are very picky. They were trying to fill a brand new position, so the profile of the ideal candidate was quite abstract – meeting and interviewing Alan was what made it concrete!”

A Prime Position

With Alan now a vital part of the company, he admits he had to do a lot of fast learning to get up to speed. “Based on my extensive experience as a manager, I knew I was bringing something of value to the table,” he says. “At the same time, I was on unfamiliar territory because I have no prior due diligence experience – so you can imagine how much studying I had to do to get up to speed.”  Fortunately, when you enjoy what you’re doing, much of the learning comes naturally. “I have always enjoyed mentoring people and dealing with clients, but all this is gravy, because due diligence is such a dynamic, interesting business.”

Now that Alan is in the process of expanding the two teams, he himself is making many hiring decisions. What does he consider an ideal candidate? “I look for loyalty – someone who has either stayed with a company for a few years, or at least did not hopscotch from job to job within months just for the sake of higher pay. Growth, whether from the person’s being given more responsibility or a promotion, is also important.” And then, there’s attitude. “This affects not just the dynamics of the workplace, but also how we relate to clients. Trust is crucial in our business, and the client has to know that the person they are dealing with can get the job done – and in the best possible way.”

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