Get to Know our Experts: Anne Shoemaker
Open Eye relies on the amazing talent of our Experts. This Q&A will help you get to know what experiences Anne brings to Open Eye.
To start, we’re wondering which significant events have led you to where you are today as Business Development & SEO Partner with Open Eye.
I reconnected with Managing Partner Taylor Tricarico after I saw an article about Open Eye in the Louisville Business Journal in 2020. I had been curious about pursuing a career in consulting for a few years, but was not particularly interested in the Big Four (or anything Big Four-adjacent). Taylor and I had an exploratory call which resulted in me being put on a few small projects to start. The rest is history!
How would you define the role of a consultant, and what types of challenges do they typically help businesses overcome?
Initially, my role is to listen attentively to the challenges my client is facing. My role then evolves to include developing a plan of action (including a budget and timeline), to help my client overcome their challenges, then executing on that plan. My clients are often small business owners who are grappling with how to best scale their business. They are seeking guidance and assistance on leveling up their operations while being good stewards of their financial resources and obligations to investors.
What are some of the key qualities and skills that made you lean into this profession?
Like a lot of my consulting colleagues, I like to help people. I have worked in mid-sized privately-held businesses, small startups, large corporate, and non-profit organizations. I have also worked in a variety of functional areas, from marketing and business development to project management and operations. I enjoy putting the insights I’ve gained over my diverse career to work for my clients.
If you could magically solve one problem for all your clients, what would it be and why?
Overcoming fear. I counsel clients that fear is always along for the ride - it just doesn’t get to drive. Fear is a universal survival mechanism that benefits us in many ways; however, if left to its own devices, it can become the prevailing emotion we succumb to rather than overcome. When we allow fear to control our actions, we limit our potential, and we need everyone’s full capacity to advance in business and society.
If you could have a billboard with any message on it, what would it say and why?
“Done is better than perfect.” I am constantly reminding myself that perfection is unattainable and the pursuit of it often leads to frustration, excuses, incomplete projects, and unmet goals. Companies (and people) who are able to produce a finished quality product within time and budget parameters, win. There is no reward for products that are 90% complete, sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
What is your favorite way to unwind and relax after a big project?
First, while the adrenaline is still going, I tend to tidy up all the messes I have left while I was focused on the project. Then, I make a bee-line for the outdoors! Sometimes this looks like going for a walk, while other times I am eager to reconnect with friends and family over a meal and extended time on the patio.
If you could be a fictional character for a day, who would you choose and why?
I would love to be Elizabeth Bennet, the protagonist in Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. I admire her sense of self, allegiance to her family, and the way she constantly pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable for a lady in her era. She’s not only intelligent and well-read, she’s witty - a trait that I most certainly do not have, but appreciate in others.
In your experience within the world of consulting, what are some of the common misconceptions about it, and how do you address them?
Consultants are often perceived as expensive and out-of-touch with a certain business, industry, or workforce. In my past positions, when consultants would come into the room, there was a collective rolling of the eyes. Now, when I meet with clients as a consultant myself, I listen attentively when the client describes the challenge they are facing, then quickly get to work on solutions. I work collaboratively with my clients, checking in frequently to ensure that the path we are pursuing is aligned with their expectations. Resources are precious; I respect the client’s investment in me by being ever mindful of delivering the return they are seeking.
What is a personal metric that you use to measure the success of a client engagement?
I start every engagement by asking the client, “What does success look like to you, as it pertains to this project?” This is the north star guiding my work for the duration of the engagement, and it is what I ensure we’ve solved by the end of the project.
Lastly, what wisdom would you pass on to (1) a business leader who is thinking about engaging a team of consultants for their business needs, and (2) for a young consulting expert who is looking to make a real positive impact with their career?
I would advise business leaders to gain clarity as to what to expect when working with the consultants in terms of time commitment, communications, deliverables, and timelines. As with any interview, gauge “fit”; do you enjoy collaborating with them and find your investment of time to be worthwhile?
I would advise young consultants to start before you think you’re ready. Find a mentor and start with small projects, while you gain your footing. You have valuable insights to share - don’t hold back!
Thank you, Anne! We’re really happy to have you here with us at Open Eye.
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