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Christian Zani is an Assistant Director and Lead Talent Advisor at Ernst & Young’s People Advisory Practice. He’s responsible for strategic efforts in identifying, qualifying and attracting Executive Directors and Directors at EY. Christian talks in this episode about career paths at The Big Four and how to break into a career in consulting and finding mentors in your career.

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Automated Transcript

Editor’s Note: We provide a transcript of each episode to make it easy to search and read. Since robots are not ready to take over the world yet, the artificial intelligence isn’t perfect. There may be some typos in the automated transcript.

Christian Zani (00:01):
Going and growing up or kind of starting out my career in journalism, you know, I felt like I was probably tucked away behind a desk and not really having much of that interaction of really being able to kind of go into a world of, Hey, you know, what kind of impact am I having? You know, what was kind of my stake in the game and this and this role. So that’s one thing I wish I would have probably had a little bit more coaching or mentoring or kind of a guidance even going through college and understand what that looked like

Vincent Phamvan (00:30):
From Vyten career coaching. It’s how I got here. A show about business leaders, their resilience, and the stories behind their career moves. I’m Vincent Phamvan, and I’ve interviewed thousands of job candidates over the years in both recruiting and as a former corporate executive. Now I’m on a mission to help you take the next step in your career. A corporate job opening attracts an average of 250 resumes and just one person is going to get hired. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was nervous and frustrated by my job search, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can navigate your career with confidence, spend everyday learning and drive to better yourself. You can be excited about the future.

In today’s episode, we meet Christian Zani, an assistant director and lead talent advisor at Ernst and young people advisory practice. In this role, he’s responsible for strategic efforts in identifying qualifying and attracting executive directors and directors at E Y. Christian was born outside of the United States. And today as a successful talent leader, his roots have really shaped his values and his work ethic as well as his taste and food

The Best Food in Argentina

Christian Zani (01:43):
We’re in Argentina. And it’s a beautiful city. I don’t know if you’ve ever been, but it’s huge, you know, metropolis. I can’t remember how million, how many millions of people in us, but you know, Argentina is known for steaks. So you can find a really good, you know, [inaudible] or, you know, get a good silo, which is, you know, your stake in Argentina. And so being able to go and have that with Jimmy jewelry and, you know, nice side of either potatoes or, you know French fries, whatever it is. But but that it would be like, especially right now where I would love to just, you know, be close to family, given the circumstances I’d would probably be the number one place right now that I would want to be at right now.

Vincent Phamvan (02:20):
20 has been quite the year. I know my wife and I had plans to travel to London, to visit friends over the summer, which that trip obviously got canceled. Christian talks in this episode about some of the challenges that you face throughout life and being flexible and being able to adjust to many of those challenges. In fact, his career from what he wanted to be when he was a child, didn’t turn out that way.

Christian Zani (02:47):
I was really, really young. So I was, I wasn’t even a few months before my parents had me, you know, basically with my mom traveling through New York to Colorado Springs in the United States. So my parents were missionaries. I grew up, you know, in the church. And so the plan was, my dad was, you know, actually left before my mom did. And we moved to Colorado Springs and he’s the plan was, he was at Olin do school for a couple of years and then go back to Argentina. But of course, you know, crazy diversions happened. He ended up we ended up staying in the United States for 10 years and then fast forward, you know, those 10 years we actually ended up moving to Guatemala. So I guess just got to spend 13 in my years in Guatemala. And around that time, I actually went to San Diego to school.

Christian Zani (03:36):
So it was moving back and forth between California and Guatemala again, because my parents work. And so amazing experience life, you know, culturally rich, you know you know, Spanish being my first language, but also, you know, being able to get a chance to speak English. You know, it was very, very formative in my development, you know, just having those opportunities and experiences. I went to school after graduating from high school, what a mall with school in San Diego. And then spent a few years in San Diego. That’s where I got into the talent industry or agency industry. And then in 2005, moved to Dallas and I’ve been in this area since then,

Vincent Phamvan (04:13):
Today you work in the talent space for EY, which is known for attracting a very high level of talent within an already competitive industry. But when you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What Christian Wanted to be as a Kid and How that Has Changed

Christian Zani (04:24):
There’s still a side of me that always wanted to be, you know, either a police officer or some kind of, you know, SWAT guy. It’s interesting. Cause my brother ended up doing all that we’ll have to have, you know, had to learn how to live vicariously 3m. He actually now works for interested in yeah. Which is kind of cool, but but yeah, I always think I always had that kind of side of me that was always interested in, you know, so I always get addicted to the, you know, the, the first 48, you know, kind of detective, you know, research kind of jobs as well. So in a way I, I do think I was able to kind of fall a little bit on the track there with just from a recruiting perspective. But but yeah, I think as a kid, I was like, yeah, that’d be kind of a cool job to do.

Vincent Phamvan (05:02):
Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, so important in a year, like this year in 2020 to be so thankful for everybody who is on the front line. You know, I think it’s a very admirable thing. So many people making sacrifices this year and to be honest, the world wouldn’t be able to survive without our mind this year,

Christian Zani (05:22):
Very creative at heart. So from a hobby perspective, I love, I love doing music. I love doing a lot of things that just really, you know you know, touch that point in my brain that that really drives creativity especially from one of the things that really excites me with the work that I do today is the strategy piece, right? So I love, I love you know, being able to have a seat at the table, especially with our executives, understanding of the challenges and their real world challenges, their challenges that we face every day. And just being able to have a Lisa, a part of that, that the nice thing about you recruiting, and I’ve always kind of seen this, especially over the last, you know, 10 years of management consulting has been just the way that recruiting is viewed or talent acquisition is viewed is we’re really the tip of the spear when it comes to the firm. Right? And so we are essentially the individuals going out and identifying those folks. And so I love the challenge. I love the hunt for me just being able to find and attract and convince people to come to, especially like a firm like Y and then getting to have an impact on their career is absolutely inspiring for me,

Vincent Phamvan (06:28):
As you were growing up, like, what are the key lessons that you learned from your parents? What did you take away from them? How did that shape you

The Most Important Trait Christian Learned From His Parents

Christian Zani (06:36):
First and foremost, if you will w it would have been really just the sense of unity with, you know, with the family that closeness and the importance of having family and your loved ones around you. I think also just learning to be very adaptable and understanding, you know, different environments and situations. Aren’t always going to be the same. And as you know, as even we’re experiencing right now, you know, we’re, we’re breathing, it limited that it’s constantly changed. And so learning to not necessarily, you know, cave under pressure when, when there’s change or curve balls thrown at you in life. And so I think a lot of it has really prepped me for you to just leave the work that I do that, you know, there’s no two days alike. And that’s, that’s the one thing I love about my role, but it, it has shaped me to learn, to be versatile, adaptable, and understanding that, you know, and then understanding and being very empathetic to people’s cultures, walks of life, you know, challenges that they’re learning to deal with. And I think that’s something that my parents have really instilled upon me.

Vincent Phamvan (07:31):
Yeah. Perseverance is going to be a trait. That’s going to be so important over the course of the next few years. You know, I graduated from college in 2009. So I really feel for many of the folks who are, whether they’re college, juniors, college, seniors, and, you know, as you know, especially in, in accounting, you know, there’s many freshmen who go to college, pick an accounting major and dream about working out one of the big four only to have something out of their control, you know, impact impact their kind of life journey that they had planned out. But life’s kind of funny like that, you know, it doesn’t always end up how you think, where you think, and a lot of the times it, it does work out if you’re adaptable to, to your point, you know, open to different, different paths. Cause life’s not always necessarily linear.

Christian Zani (08:23):
You’re absolutely right. And I think, you know, where, where it is, you know, tricky or where you have to learn how to adapt. I think your, your resilience is really going to show, especially during these times. I mean, I remember when I came out of college, I graduated 10 years before you did so 99 and the economy was different for the technology space. You know, I got into you know, I, the first job I got, I got into was working for a magazine. I was a journalism major. And that, that company, you know, ultimately will, I think I did that for about a year before I moved into a company that was really focused around aviation and aeronautics and landing systems for airports and so forth. And that was around the height of nine 11. And so you know, I tell this story as part of my journey you know, we were about a 500 person employee, you know, just in the outskirts of Kansas city.

Christian Zani (09:15):
And you know, literally within months because we lost a lot of contracts with the U S you know FAA, a lot of contracts that had basically gone had been frozen or, or, or put on hold. And so there, we start to, you know, we start to experience a bunch of layoffs and a lot of transitions that were taking place. And so right out the gate, and that was one of the reasons that got me into recruiting, essentially. It was because I was like, well, I want to do a role that I can take anywhere in the world. If I have to, you know, it wasn’t really thinking 20 years from now, but I was thinking, what is this? Something I could do a skill set that I can go anywhere if I have to. And I can always fall back on if I need to, to start my own business or something like that. And so that was one of the reasons I got into recruiting. And at that time

Vincent Phamvan (09:58):
Being a journalism major in college, you know, I think part of the challenge with life is you go through life and you grow up, you go through middle school, you go to high school, you go to college, these are kind of defined steps on a path that for the most part, have a timeframe that you have to adhere to. Unless you’re brave enough to go into engineering at which 0.5 years is totally acceptable, but otherwise after that, like life doesn’t really have a timeframe there’s no set time for when you have to reach certain milestones. When you, you know, whether you choose to get married or not choose to get married, whether you choose to buy a house, whether you don’t choose to buy a house, you know, at that point, you know, life will go where, where life goes, but, you know, you don’t have to compare yourself to others or even think about ahead or behind, because there really is no ahead or behind at that point, you know, w what’s another important lesson that you’ve learned in your life and what was life like before you learned it?

What Christian Wish He Knew in College and How to Do it Now

Christian Zani (11:05):
I would say that it was something that I probably learned much later in life, but I wished I would’ve known about this, you know, probably in college. And I think if I would have been a little bit better about, you know, keeping my ear to the ground and really doing a better job from a networking perspective, or really developing, you know, lifelong or sort of key relationships while I was in college was really and this is something I, I actually, as, as a coach now, as a mentor, you know, here at Eli, that I, that I provide to some of my mentees, if you will, is, is finding, finding, finding a coach, finding a mentor that that is going to be really a sounding board not necessarily someone that’s going to ultimately have, you know, an impact on, you know, your performance reviews or so forth

Christian Zani (11:50):
But something, someone that is ultimately is, is really even outside of the firm or even outside of your skillset, but that’s going to give you it could be, it could be a parent, it could be, you know, a family member, but more importantly someone that’s either within your firm or company where you work at, or even outside of, you know, your organization that, that can really provide, you know, their experience, you know, that the things where they, they, they might’ve encountered as pitfalls or challenges along the way, or just someone who’s going to make you think or look at things much differently. And so I wish I would’ve had that guidance. I’ve, I’m actually, you know, now I’ve been able to surround myself with, with quite a few different mentors or colleagues, you know, who are whether, and they don’t have to be lifelong mentors or coaches. They could just be in that moment in time. Right. But I think knowing what I know now versus what I knew, then it, I mean, it’s, it’s really shaped me to look at things much different. I know it’s, it’s probably enhanced my career in a better way. I just wish I would have taken, had not taken so long to do it, if that makes sense.

Vincent Phamvan (12:53):
Yeah. And I think a common misconception about mentorship too, is that it has to be like this structured, rigid thing where you go to somebody and you say, will you be my mentor and meet every Tuesday at this place and talk about these things. But a lot of mentor relationships happen a little bit more natural or organic than that. Talk to me about like how one of those relationships has developed over time and like, you know, how often do you keep in touch and, you know, what does that format look like?

Christian Zani (13:20):
Yeah. So I’m, I’m really fortunate. And you know, and it’s, Carrie’s watching this then, you know, she knows, she knows, and she’s actually, I just, I’m Carrie Carrie garden. She’s she’s a former Olympian. You know, she was, I think, in the Beijing Olympics and my, so Eddie, why we do every, excuse me, every year we do this Eli hostess event called milestones and it’s reset, you know, recent hires and newly promoted at the assistant director level manager level. And then you have senior manager, associate director as well as, you know, other people that come into the firm. The firm makes a lot of investments, but you know, five years ago, and I just celebrated my fifth year here already. Why? So I just started in it from Carrie, was up on stage talking about the importance of having a mentor.

Christian Zani (14:07):
I had a coach and that was actually kind of my aha moment. And I think right after she had given her presentation and conversation, I, you know, cause curious sits here in Dallas, you know, she’s a part of the talent team. We weren’t working because she was on the tax side of the practice. And I was, I was doing advisory at the time, but I wouldn’t have to curious of, Hey Carrie if you’re cool with this, I would love for you to be my mentor slash coach. And she was like, absolutely, absolutely. And so from that moment you know, I just, I kind of just, I took the initiative to just, you know, ask her, you know, and we agreed upon it and it happened honestly over time it happened probably more organically than it felt like it was, it was forced.

Christian Zani (14:47):
And then fast forward a year into my career and he, why I transitioned from advisories of practice. And now Carrie was not just my coach and mentor, but she was also my counselor. And so so I had the unique ability and opportunity to be able to have someone really, you know, from a day-to-day perspective challenged me and helped me grow. And that’s ultimately added such an impact on my life because, you know, you look at things it’s, it’s good to have someone who understands the firm, but you know, it’s also, you look at things in such a way where you’re like, wow, this person has given me such a different perspective and they’re willing to invest that time. And I think, you know, you, you definitely have to find someone who is willing to provide that time. But as the mentee, you know, you’re going to have to take those steps. You know, you’re going to have to take the initiative in many cases. You know, and you might find someone who may not have the bandwidth to do that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a bad thing or a good thing. It just, you know, but, you know, I would say just be very intentional strategic about who you asked to be your mentor.

Vincent Phamvan (15:49):
Yeah. And this is something I think a lot of job candidates as they’re looking for their next role and need to keep in mind as they’re choosing the company or firm that they’re looking to potentially join is, you know, larger companies, larger organizations like UY are going to have great developmental opportunities, training programs and startups. You learn a little bit, a different way. You get learned, you learn by getting thrown into the fire and learning through experience right off the bat, but you might not have know as structured of training, onboarding, rotational programs and things like that. But what you just said there, that really stood out to me as something that I think you had, I have known earlier in my career, I would have been way more proactive about it, which is as the mentee, you need to grab it and take control of it.

Vincent Phamvan (16:33):
Because even if you’re at a great organization that has those resources, at least 51%, at least 51% of the effort is on you. You got to take your own control over your own destiny and grab it because the reality of it too, is great mentors, really great mentors are not going to be people who are just sitting around. There are folks who are extremely busy, but they want to give back the time, but you have to ask for the time and follow up and, and really put effort and thought into it in terms of what you want to get out of it, because you’re only going to get out of it. What, whatever type of effort you put into it. So I couldn’t agree more there, but what was something that before you started a career in management consulting what were some of the things that you wish you would have known?

What Christian Wish He Knew Before Going Into Management Consulting

Christian Zani (17:23):
I think I wish I would have at least either got into knowing more about management consulting even when I was in college, because, you know, as a journalism major, you know, I, you know, I had even a great mentor then to just, you know, guide me and say, you know, cause I was always, my mindset was really always on the, on the business side. I always wanted to do international business. Yeah. Having the opportunity to speak two languages. But you know, going, going into what I today, you know, and just the dynamics around management consulting and that it’s, it’s very, it’s very challenging. It’s very complex. But you’re, you’re obviously having an impact in so many different areas of industries and people and their lives and the decisions that organizations make and that, you know, they come to you, whether it’s from a strategic standpoint or from an advisory standpoint.

Christian Zani (18:11):
But I think, you know, just now having been at a place like UI and then prior to UI some SunGard consulting services, you know, it’s, it’s really that the, the dynamic of working with people and just the opportunity to really understand that, you know, there are, there are challenges, you know, like we talked about earlier in this podcast, you know, that the world throws challenges at you every day, learning to understand those dynamics of working with people and then understanding those pain points and then being able to, to solve those issues and challenges along the way going and growing up or kind of starting out my career in journalism, you know, I felt like I was probably tucked away behind a desk and not really having much of that interaction or really being able to kind of go into a world of, Hey, you know, what kind of impact am I having?

Christian Zani (18:58):
You know, what was kind of my stake in the game and this and this role. So that’s one thing I wish I would have probably had a little bit more coaching or mentoring or kind of a guidance you and going through college and understand what that look like. But I’ve been fortunate enough to have this, this journey and kind of see that, you know, now firsthand. And I, I encourage people, you know, even if it management consulting is not a part or something onto the top of your mind, especially as you’re know, you know your college graduate looking for career opportunities, I would say, explore your options. And it’s not for everyone. I will say that, you know, just full transparency. But I do think if you’re looking to have an impact and have a how to, you know, have a say and the growth of what an organization can do for its clients, then, you know, I definitely would consider that.

Vincent Phamvan (19:44):
That’s one thing that I’m not a super huge fan on personality quizzes, a few of them out there that are worth taking strike StrengthFinder for anybody who’s listening is a great one. Myers-Briggs is another good standard one. I’d avoid the buzz feed ones if you’re using those to make decisions on your careers. But one thing that I do think to your point that folks should know about themselves is do you, are you a creative type? Are you an analytical type where you really get energy out of like sitting down or putting on headphones and cranking through a crazy puzzle or just making something that’s just so creative and that’s what gives you energy and you would be excited to do, or are you the type of person that gets a lot of energy out of interacting with other people, collaborating with other people because of these are oftentimes the things that you don’t really understand about a career in terms of the actual day in the life of a job until you get into it, unless you asked folks before you actually get into that profession.

Christian Zani (20:49):
Yeah, that’s a good point. And I would say one of the things that EOI does really well is when you come into the firm, especially as a new manager or an assistant director, or even, you know, higher up. And I, I wish we would do a better job even at kind of the, you know, entry level roles as well. But we I got certified in Trey comm social styles about three years ago now. And so, you know, that’s one of the things I actually been facilitated our milestones, those milestones programs now after the last couple of years, but it’s, it is learning your social style. It is, you know, whether you’re analytical with your driver, whether you’re amicable, which is what I am or expressive. And the nice thing is one of the key takeaways out of that whole program is, is the importance of understanding that, you know, on a high performing team, which you are really, you know, really stresses the importance of having throughout the organization is having a good balance across the team.

Christian Zani (21:46):
So you don’t, you don’t want an organization. That’s just a bunch of analytical folks, or you don’t want an order position. It’s just drivers, you know, you want a really good blend. And I will say that, you know, even look at the numbers year over year, you Y continues to do a really good job in that space, but as an individual, it’s good to know that because you’re absolutely right. You know, if you’re analytical and you love doing reports, or you love spending all your time in an Excel spreadsheet or doing, you know, whatever kind of research or the same thing as if you’re a driver where you like, you know, you know, leading teams or projects or opportunities, absolutely. Get the chance to kind of do that. And you’re right. Strengthfinders. I think that I bought the book and I did the quiz and I think that’s where I learned, you know, okay. I, I I’m creative type, you know, obviously, but then, you know, strategy is something that really speaks my, you know, political love language, if you will.

Why Job Searching Is So Frustrating and How to Break Through

Vincent Phamvan (22:33):
A lot of people think that job searches or networking are frustrating. A lot of the times to the point where they want to give up, it causes them anxiety. Why do you think people feel that way? Yeah.

Christian Zani (22:43):
I think it’s where your energy is spent. I think if you’re, if you’re just thinking that I’m going to sit behind a computer on or or, you know, old-school, I don’t even know if they still exist, you know, uploading your resume and then just, you know, applying to 70,000 different jobs that are out there. That’s going to be frustrating. I think it goes back to the comment earlier of as a mentee, you know, do I need to take the initiative? It really is. It really is taking the efforts and initiatives to go out there and, and find networking opportunities. Especially in a market like right now where you know, after the, I mean, you can, you can attest to this because it’s around the time you graduated college was when the housing crisis crisis happened, we went, it’s like a deep autumn recession.

Christian Zani (23:31):
A lot of people were getting laid off. I was talking to executives who were making well into the high six figures. And they were trying to find opportunities and, you know, and they were just like, man, I keep applying to jobs to keep on the planet jobs, but I’m like, what? I’m like, why are you just putting all your eggs in that one basket? You know, you have to, you have to be creative, you know, and that might mean it might be going out to networking events, lunches, dinners they might seem mundane, but, you know, until, until you actually Stripe it, strike up a conversation or get in front of someone you know, that’s the best way that you’re going to ultimately find something because as the saying goes, it’s not what, you know, it’s who, you know, and that absolutely stands true within any organization.

Christian Zani (24:10):
And so you know, it’s the importance to around not just developing those, those relationships, but maintain those relationships too. They may not all pan out, you know, especially, you know, if you do get laid off and I know a lot of people have been laid off, you know, it’s evident, you know, in the markets, you know, I think you and I were talking about this the other day it startups, right. You know, startups, you know, people getting laid off or, you know people could try to come out of college and not having an opportunity in hand. But if you’re just relying on one sort of platform or tool you’re, you’re, it’s, it’s, it’s going to be very difficult. But I think the other component of it as well is, is just being resilient, you know, just being, not, not just throwing in the towel you know, be okay with rejection rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re horrible.

Christian Zani (24:56):
And then take the time to understand or be, or allow yourself to be coachable to, I was talking to a candidate last week about how you know, how his, he had this crazy chip on his shoulder, really just around the fact that because he had had, he had not had really good relationships with recruiters in the past. And so he immediately just loved me in that kind of same general population. And I said, you know, that’s one, it’s not necessarily fair, but two, if you don’t come off as being someone that you want to really want to work with easily, if that makes sense. And so I, I kind of coached him and I know he appreciated the coaching because I said, listen, you, can’t just, just your bad experiences. They might’ve been bad experiences and you’re going to have bad recruiters. You know, you’re going to have bad people that you’re gonna work along with. You’re gonna have bad experiences from an interviewing standpoint, but also, you know, just be willing to do the work because it is full-time work, you know, looking for a job is going to be full-time work and you have to be okay with that. But what you put into is what you’re going to get out of it.

Vincent Phamvan (25:51):
Yeah. A couple of things that I just heard there that I definitely agree with many of it, you know, number one, don’t spend all of your job search, just kind of aimlessly applying for jobs on a job board. It’s not a quantity game at all. You know, 60% of successful folks who find their next job that actually comes through networking. So if that tells you where you should be spending your time in a job search, like if you were breaking down a 40 hour job search week, 60% of your time should really be on networking. If 60% of jobs are found through networking, you know, figuring out a way to check back in with your old connections, let everybody know that you’re looking for a job. Obviously it’s a little bit different if you’re in a confidential job search and your employer doesn’t know, but for the most part, you know, if you are in an open job search, everybody in your network should know, cause you never know when somebody’s uncle somebody’s dog sitter or somebody’s, you know, somebodies, you know, dog play date at the dog park happens to work at the firm.

The Biggest Mistakes Christian Has Seen Job Seekers Make

Vincent Phamvan (26:58):
You would be excited to be working at what’s one mistake that you’ve often seen others make in a job search, or that you’ve made yourself in the job search.

Christian Zani (27:07):
And I think it’s still, it’s something that’s going to stand true through time is don’t, don’t burn a bridge, you know? And that’s, it could be the silliest thing, but it’s crazy how many, how many instances I’ve seen throughout my career. People do that. And then their name circles out three years down the road, five years down the note road. And they were like, Hey, do you know so-and-so or do you, do you recall that it looks like you used to work with this person? Is there anything that you can share about them with me and immediately, you know, people don’t necessarily, or, you know, remember the good experiences, just like, you know, you never, you’re not going to rave about a really good restaurant, you know, as the saying goes, you know, you’re always going to complain about that bad experience, right? It’s the same.

Christian Zani (27:45):
It goes with the same with, with candidates, you know, or individuals who you might’ve worked with and this might’ve left, you know, and never showed back up, you know, or was just, you know, miserable and just complaining at the same time or, or, or whatever the situation might be. So I think that’s probably something that, you know, regardless of, even if you’re at a place where you’re so miserable, don’t, don’t talk bad about your previous job or your, your boss don’t talk bad about your previous employers, especially in a, in an interview. If that’s something that I can just give as a, as a word of advice. Because that, that just sounds like a red flag or, you know, the warning bells off with candidates as what, you know, we’re talking to them. I really, I rarely see that as I used to see that more when I an agency recruiting. But again, you know, even as a recruiter, I would try to coach someone on that. And a lot of times people get really comfortable with the recruiter, but just keep that in the back of the mind is again, as miserable as it might seem or come off try not to, to express that, that part.

Vincent Phamvan (28:44):
I completely agree with that. I’ve also done thousands of interviews over the course of my career. And I think in almost all circumstances, even if it’s a company where they’re glass door review is like two stars. And like in the, in the media, they’re talking about how bad it is to work at that company. It’s not a good look on anybody to complain about it. And it’s much, much better to, especially in interviews where you only have 30 minutes or an hour, it is much better to spend your time talking about the difference that you can make at the organization that you’re about to join and spending even a second complaining about the organization that you’ve either left or are in the process of leaving right now.

Christian Zani (29:27):
The other thing I was just thinking about on that too, if, if, if there was something I could coach or advise, if you will, is do do the homework, do the research, you know, leading up to an interview take the time to understand, you know, the good, the bad and the ugly we’re an organization. And one, that’s going to show that you’ve, you’ve taken the time to really invest in the interview. You know, the same goes with, you know, just you know, as you’re out there applying for jobs, be intentional just throwing your resume over the fence and hoping it sticks somewhere isn’t necessarily the most advisable. You might, you might get something because you have very niche, you know, a new skill set that might apply to something specifically. But a lot of times where I noticed a lot of candidates have success is again, leveraging their network and so forth.

Christian Zani (30:15):
But even as they’re out there applying to specific jobs, it’s taking the time to actually go through the job description and understand this is exactly what they’re looking for. It might mean you have to re edit your resume 17 different times as you’re going out there and putting that, you know, putting that on, you know, posting that up or whatever the situation might be. But I think being much more intentional about it, you’re gonna increase your chances, you know, because you have to think there’s a bunch of other people behind you that are trying to apply for that same job. And so the more intentional, and the more time you take upfront, it’s gonna at least get your foot in the door to interview and so forth.

Vincent Phamvan (30:49):
Yeah. And there was a tip that you just gave in there, which a lot of job seekers don’t know, which is you might have to edit your resume. 17 times 17 different roles. I think a lot of people have this misconception that you make your resume and Microsoft word or Google docs or wherever you’re making it now, and you export it to PDF. And then like, that’s it like print to print 200 copies. It’s ready to go. That’s really not the case anymore. Now when you have different job descriptions, it’s like an open book tests. That job description is saying literally things that folks are looking for you. Part of the guidance folks who go through the Biden program, know that I often give is make your resume about 25% longer than the final resume is going to be. Because as you’re looking at those different job descriptions, you’re going to be cutting bullet points out that are not relevant.

Vincent Phamvan (31:43):
It’s really honed in to what that job description is looking for. You know, it is not a Wikipedia page of your life where you need to list out every way in your life. You really want to hone in and tailor it to each job. So you might have HR experience and marketing experience and your background, but depending on if you’re applying for an HR role or a marketing role, right, there might be specific bullet points that you put in, because if you leave everything, it might seem like you could be wishy-washy and not quite sure

Christian Zani (32:18):
What you want to do next. Yeah. Great advice.

The Behind-the-Scenes of How Christian Ended Up at EY and His Advice For You to Break In

Vincent Phamvan (32:21):
Tell me about the kind of process behind the scenes of how you ended up at UI.

Christian Zani (32:28):
Yeah, so it was it was an interesting time, but, you know, I, I just, you know, I firmly believe that, you know, all things happen for a reason. I was. So prior to his coming to you, why was working for a consulting services organization called SunGard? They, you know we, we had the product side and then we had the consulting side and I was doing very similar role what I’m doing today in terms of executive recruiting, you know, doing, working with our leaders. But at the time you know, someone from that, the talent team, he already had reached out to me and they had said, you know, Hey, are you interested? And looking at some new opportunities, they, they see my resume or my resume, but my profile LinkedIn. And because I had been working in the management consulting space, you know, working into, to hire, you know, directed at partners and executives that is really essentially what stood out.

Christian Zani (33:22):
Really my, my, at the time, my emphasis was more in the financial services space, but they’re like, they really liked my it background. So again, I took the time to always, you know, and I continue to do so is make sure that my, my LinkedIn profile is up to date. It essentially reflects the work that I’m doing at this moment. And that’s something I would encourage, you know, your listeners and our viewers to do, to do as well as that take the time to, to build out just like, you know, you were saying Vincent about, you know, having, you know, a really strong, you know, resume or profile is the same goes with LinkedIn. So that essentially attracted that, that person to reach out to me. I went through a handful of different interviews, actually kind of the officer in Dallas and met with my, what ultimately would become my, my, my leader Jill Serban, who who’s still with the pharmacy.

Christian Zani (34:11):
She was ultimately the one I met with. And it was a pretty pretty easy process if you will. I mean, obviously, you know, they, they liked my background. So there wasn’t really questions about that as much as, you know, just the ability to step into a world that when I, when I joined the Y, they made me the offer and all that. When I joined the Y I mean, it took me, you know, I, I thought it was going to take me just a few months to kind of get my bearings, but it took me a little while because it’s a different management consulting, regardless of what people say, it’s, it’s definitely learning curve. And, and so just adapting to that was, was, you know, was challenging. But again, it was something I was really hungry for. I, again, going back to things happen for a reason all the while you know, when I was, you know, cause I was kind of passively looking when I was at SunGard, I wasn’t necessarily like miserable, but there was still a lot of uncertainty with some of the things that were happening in the marketplace at the time.

Christian Zani (35:05):
And they were actually going through an acquisition or potentially either going IP or they were actually going to sell to whoever was going to acquire them. And so timing worked out cause I’d get on my notice in March of 2015 and six months later, they were being acquired by fidelity investment services because, and so I, so the timing worked out perfect. You know, I’m glad I made the move. There was a great experience, you know, leading into that transition, but but yeah, I went through my series of interviews and met with different folks and, you know, I think overall it was a, it was a really great experience. What advice would you to somebody who’s

Vincent Phamvan (35:38):
Looking to get into UI,

Christian Zani (35:40):
I would really recommend and something that Eli does really, really good at as well as our competitors do, but is if you’re in college, if you’re a freshmen, don’t wait, just start to develop the relationship with, you know, every, I think every semester or I think every, I think it’s either spring or fall. I think that we do have both is to take the time to go to the career fairs, whether you, you, you think you’re going to be graduating in four years or five years or, you know, you’re going to be, you know, like in Tommy boy says a lot of people go to school for seven years as a call doctors.

Christian Zani (36:15):
But I would say that, you know, take the time early on and start developing those relationships with the recruiters that are, that are attending these events. Eye does a really good job in terms of sending out we have a huge campus initiatives and efforts, you know, across, you know, and it doesn’t necessarily even have to be the big schools. I mean, I think Eli will be obviously present there, but if you’re, if you’re going to quote unquote a smaller school that may not necessarily be on Eli’s radar, start to find out, you know, through your network, people that might, you know, might be, you know working there or, you know, people that, you know, whether it’s through church or your high school or, you know, your neighborhood there, there might either be people that are working there that you don’t even think about or people that they actually know, someone that works at one of those organizations.

Christian Zani (37:03):
And start to just ask questions, you know, as, as, as I mentioned earlier, management consultants, not for everyone, but the good thing is that UI really starts getting people to intern early, as early as the freshman year. And so we keep track of individuals who started in their internships if you’re an accounting major or if you’re, you know, you’re, you’re someone in technology, you know, or kind of in that STEM world, you know, trying to, to, to build your career out. There’s, there’s, it’s kind of twofold. I mean, it’s one, it’s a great takeaway from you from a learning experience. You’re going to have the opportunity to step into a world and determine whether or not you was going to be a fit for you or not. But I would just say, just start talking to the recruiters to get their contact information develop those relationships.

Christian Zani (37:46):
Do you know, again, take the initiative to be proactive in terms of reaching out to them, understanding, Hey, what do I need to do in terms of my college career in order for me to get a job at UI? And so that might be taking an accounting degree or classes, or it might take other classes that you’re just not aware of. So as you’re going through your, you know registration for the fall or the spring, now you can understand, okay, this is the roadmap I need to do towards the classes I need to take. Or, you know, in order to get Alana job at a place like N E Y or PWC or Deloitte or KPMG,

The Importance of Starting Early and How to Keep Up with Connections

Vincent Phamvan (38:19):
I was a CMO at the last company that I was working with. And, you know, in marketing, reaching out for years before you need a job, might be a little extreme. And for some companies that might be the case, but in management consulting time and time and time again, the successful candidates start early. At your, if you’re in college today, a lot of colleges have what’s called a SAS or a student accounting society. That’s a really great place where there’s events, there’s workshops hosted. But it’s also great to be able to network with upperclassmen as well and find out what the experience is like. And especially if you’re a freshmen in college right now, and you’re talking to a senior, who’s going through the recruiting process for a job or a junior, who’s looking to get an internship, a it’s good to be able to understand what that process and experience is like for them, but B that person might be working at that company a few years from now.

Vincent Phamvan (39:19):
And so it’s going to be a great contact to have in a few years as well. But it, isn’t management consulting is not really one of those areas where you can procrastinate and decide that it’s something that you want to do halfway through junior year or halfway through, or because there are set timeframes and milestones for application deadlines and Ford interview days that are oftentimes even hosted on campus. And so it’s almost, you know, more akin to like a college admissions process where there are set timeframes and process that you should go through. I like your advice of getting to know the recruiters early, you know, I think one question that folks might have is, well, if I make that connection so early, how do I stay in touch? And I know one piece of advice that I always give is just follow the person on LinkedIn hit, like when they’re posting occasionally comment, you don’t have to be, you know, the person that comments on every single post, but I guarantee you, you know, if every couple posts you add just a little bit interesting, you know, just a comment that just shows that you absorbed the content and added to it in some type of way.

Vincent Phamvan (40:37):
And you do that over the course of a year or two guarantee that person’s going to remember that.

Christian Zani (40:41):
Oh yeah, absolutely. No. And that’s, that’s really good feedback. I think, you know, in terms of, you know, taking that initiative as, as you mentioned, and then just, you know, again, not, not being sort of overbearing or overwhelming with the recruiter as well as is really, really good. Good points. One thing I wanted to add, and you touched on this just a little bit ago was these ERG. So, you know one thing that UI does a really good job as is it partners up with, so for example, you know, alpha is our association of Latino professionals for America. It used to be really geared towards accounting professionals, but they really opened it up. And so so I, if you’re, if you’re, and you don’t have to be Hispanic, but I mean, if you’re, you know, Latino or, you know underrepresented minority, you know, whatever the situation might be, definitely a partner out that last year, I got to go to the ascend conference, which was like, you know, for pan.

Christian Zani (41:31):
And that was up in DC. And that was my first time attending that event. But just seeing how many, you know, campus, you know, students were going through that and how much they had been involved in that chapter, you know, at their, at their university is so key. And so starting early, as you mentioned, is, is so key to just really getting involved understanding. And then, and then participating, you know, when did you become the president of that group or not, or you become, you know, the, whatever the administrator or whatever level you come in at or just being someone who’s active in setting up these events, it’s getting out there, it’s making yourself no, it’s, it’s building a brand early on. And as Eli looks at individuals, we really look at those components too. It’s like, what is this person done from, you know, collegiate standpoint? What kind of brand would they be bringing to E Y? And that’d mean, obviously that that’s going to speak volumes, especially if you’re already getting a jump on that kind of stuff. And it shows that you’re, you’re, you’re really, really invested in, in, in the career path that you, you you’re currently taking in college.

Vincent Phamvan (42:31):
The ERG is our employee resource groups for anybody who’s listening. Really are something that I think a lot of people in college don’t know about it cause you don’t really get exposed to it. And it’s totally, you start working at larger companies, but you know, the ERG is support communities of employees from different groups. You know a lot of the time there’s an LBGTQ ERG there’s nearly almost always a veteran ERG. And so, you know, these are really great ways of being able to learn about organizations. I think what I love about it too, is employees who typically spend their time participating in the ERG and giving back in the ERG are also going to be more likely the types of folks who would be open to meeting for coffee and sharing about the company, because they’re oftentimes the ones that are really proud to be there and want to give back and want to help others. And so it’s a perfect fit for being able to reach out and just learn about somebody’s experience, especially since you already have something in common and that person likely has a story and a journey to be able to share. So we’ve talked a lot about mentors and the importance of finding mentorship throughout your career, outside of that, what are the best resources that have helped you along your, along the way in your career?

The Best Resources that Helped Christian in His Career

Christian Zani (43:47):
Yeah, great question. I think one of the things that I take a step back on, and this is something I was very intentional about doing more so last year and with this whole buyer’s thing, it’s kind of throwing things out of a loop because I, I used to, I used to just, you know, plug in and go to the gym and that, so a lot of it’s just use it listening to audible books, you know? And so I’ve been, I’ve been really intentional about books that have been around business leadership principles. Obviously, you know, I know Bernay Brown is a name that gets thrown out quite a bit. But then, you know, other books that, you know, kind of, you know, peas to my appetite in terms of just knowledge. And so there’s, you know, there’s books about military strategy know there’s there’s books that you know, that, that might be, you know, talking about, you know, leadership principles and in, in challenging times such as war or combat.

Christian Zani (44:42):
And so I strike, I started to pull different things and think, okay, well, how are certain things I can apply to myself? You know, some of them are around relationships, you know, just even from that, what can I do differently in terms of developing relationships? Not just with my fiance, but, you know, family members, you know, as well as colleagues in the leaders, especially now that I’m taking on this lead role, African people advisors standpoint and then, you know, from a knowledge perspective other resources are the day-to-day work that I do. And so, you know why we do a really good job in terms of, you know, sending out news and other articles that, you know, our leaders have written greatness. So I try to stay really on top of what they’re writing, paying attention to certain things that they might post on LinkedIn. Just so that I can stay close to, you know, educate myself in terms of the content that they’re putting up there as well.

Vincent Phamvan (45:30):
Where can our listeners connect with you online?

Christian Zani (45:33):
I would say best places, LinkedIn. I don’t know if you’re going to put that link up there or not, but yeah, I would say that that’s probably the best place. And you know, I’m always happy to, to provide mentoring or mentorship to anyone. So if it’s something that you’re interested in, you know, always happy to you know, talk through and get to know you a little bit better as well.

Vincent Phamvan (45:53):
Yeah. Awesome. Christian, it’s been a pleasure to be able to chat with you today, and I really appreciate your time and sharing just all these insights with everybody who’s listening.

Christian Zani (46:02):
Likewise, Vincent, I love that. I love seeing what you’re doing as well, you know, in terms of you know, your role in this podcast. And so I wish everyone luck and just thank you for the time and consideration and, and yeah. Looking forward to staying in touch.

Vincent Phamvan (46:15):
Awesome. Thanks again. Thank you so much for listening to the show this week. If this podcast was helpful to you, the best thing that you can do to support is please consider rating and reviewing the show on Apple podcasts. This helps us help more people just like you move towards the life that they desire. Visit our podcasts on Apple podcasts. Then scroll to the bottom, tap the rate with five stars and just leave a sentence or two about what you loved most about this episode. You can subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts, or you can write at I’m Vincent Phamvan, and you’ve been listening to how I got here.

Myers & Briggs

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