The Leadership Search Group19 Lakeside Lane, Suite 220, North Barrington, IL 60010 847-277-0008Self Administered Interview GuideWhile the information you provide is not the only basis for hiring decisions, it is helpful in getting to know youbetter through your unfiltered communication with us. You are not required to furnish any information which isprohibited by federal, state of local laws.Mark P. Bidinger11 Benton Court Algonquin, IL firstname.lastname@example.orgEducation:(Circle or highlight highest grade completed)College/Graduate School: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8+ (4 undergrad, 2 MBA)Gahanna Lincoln High School~357 in graduating class (class size)Top quartile (rank)Extracurricular activities: baseball, wrestling, cross countryOffices/honors/awards:Part time and summer work: Schaeffer Ornamental Iron, Landscaping.A. College/Graduate School Name and LocationThe University of Toledo: Toledo, OhioGrade Point Average: 3.75/4.0Extracurricular activities, honors, awards:Dean’s listWhat undergraduate course did you like most? Why? Physics The professor was very engaging to a largeclass and gave real world examples. He would take time after class for any student.What undergraduate courses did you like least? Why? I did not enjoy any class when the number ofstudents was above 700 and the tests were strictly multiple choices.
How was your education financed? I paid for my own college tuition. I worked part-time and through thesummers at Cardinal Industries, Alpine drive thru, Agler Davidson, and Schaeffer Ornamental Iron.Part time and summer work:see aboveOther courses, seminars or studies: political science, history, civil engineering, mechanical engineering.Activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Intramural sports, Internship atMembership in professional or job relevant organizations: ASQC, now ASQPublications, patents, inventions, professional licenses or additional special honors or awards:Business Experience:Please start with your present or most recent position and complete a different section (A, B) for each of yourlast two job titles, whether in your current company or with a different employer.A:McNichols Company: Metal Distribution of specialty itemsTitle: General Manager Midwest District.Staff: Number of direct reports: 10Indirect reports: 73Total Staff: 831. What do you most enjoy about your job? I enjoy using varying leadership styles and techniques tohelp my team achieve goals they did not think they were capable of accomplishing. Watching theteam succeed brings me great satisfaction. One example is landing the Steffes Account whichrequired not only internal team work, but external teamwork as well.2. What do you least enjoy? Overall, Ive been very satisfied with my job. Ive been able to work withsome really interesting people. I have to say that I did have a job where there was an inordinateamount of paperwork. The time I spent working with my team was diminished due to theinordinate amount of unnecessary paperwork.3. Describe the situation when you took the position. What shape was the job in with respect to sales,talent, resources, systems, etc? Specifically, what major challenges did you face?
The major challenges were building bench strength and the leadership talents of each individualmanager. Over the course of my time seven Team Leaders, two Area Operations Managers, SalesManager were promoted. A Fabrication Business Manager was appointed, and a trainer waspromoted. These leadership improvements allowed the team to strengthen call presence,understanding buying signals, up-selling, cross-selling, follow-ups and overall District performance.On the operations side this allowed us to increase throughput without increasing manpower. Newmetrics included picks per man-hour, cuts per man-hour, and other real time feedback. Volumethroughput increased double digit, while labor was reduced through natural attrition.4. What are your key responsibilities and accountabilities?Key responsibilities included P&L, gross profit, operating income, gross revenue, leadershipdevelopment, account development, and cost management.5. List your major accomplishments. Please quantify the information (e.g. 20% increase in sales, etc)• Grew sales 16% and profit 26% via targeted segment approach with specific solutions and salesprocesses.• Developed next generation leadership talent from within.• Created strategic plan based on value proposition, to achieve double digit growth over the nextdecade.• Used lean initiatives to reduce wasted motion in warehouse by 33%, saving labor expense duringgrowth.• Implemented Oracle eOne across four facilities, increasing inventory accuracy to 99%• Established new shop floor layout for expansion of fabrication capabilities, received capitalapproval for project.6. What mistakes have you made in the position? What would you do differently if you could startover in the job?Early on in this assignment I was too trusting of long term employees and their realized acumenabout the business. I learned that just because you have been with a company 25 years does notmean the same as having 25 years experience. I learned even with long term veterans trust butverify.What do you believe your current supervisor sees as your major strengths?Due to my experiences in other industries, I am able to leverage my background knowledge to growthe district and increase processes and operational excellence. My strength is leadership andcoaching of my direct staff as well as indirect staff. I am able to build a team unit that will generateresults. I have the ability to make quick assessments and implement change that inspires long termgrowth in the organization.7. What do you believe your current supervisor sees as your areas for improvement?
Early on the area of improvement would be the administrative tasks required by the organization,learning the various reports, processes, etc.8. What has been your most recent overall performance rating in this job? Please explain the scale,e.g., 5=exceeds expectations, etc.My most recent annual review was very positive in terms of both my leadership and results. In thisorganization a 5 is not awarded, in a scaling system I would have received a 4.B:
Company name and kind of business: Elkay: A privately held international consumer goods and industrialbuilding materials company with sales of $1 billion.Title: Asia General ManagerStaff: Number of direct reports: 7Indirect reports: 250Total Staff :2571. What did you most enjoy about your job? My most enjoyable experience was a startup in a foreigncountry. The situation was extremely fast paced and decisions had to be made rapidly throughoutthe day/month/quarter. I enjoyed building a staff diverse enough to be able to take on thechallenge and make adjustments rapidly. I enjoyed working with diverse cultures and businessbackgrounds. I found great satisfaction in finding common ground to build cohesiveness and trustin the team. I enjoyed learning about entirely new sales processes and distribution methods.2. What did you least enjoy?I cannot think of anything I did not enjoy at Elkay I was in the leadership development program andconstantly challenged with new and exciting assignments. I was there 9 years because there was nodown side.3. Describe the situation when you took the position. What shape was the job in with respect to sales,talent, resources, systems, etc? Specifically, what major challenges did you face?At the time the business was losing cash each and every day. By working with the controller andreviewing the product cost structure, as well as customer pricing policy, we were able to identifythe issues. Our organization had a major customer which accounted for about 40% of the volume.We were losing money because the customer was receiving their product below cost. Weimmediately met with the customer, explained the situation and provided several potentialsolutions. The customer chose to walk away and we were able to replace much of the business in 60days with profitable customers. We became a cash positive entity. This stabilized the organizationenough to allow the team to focus on talent, systems, recourses, etc. The next major challenge wasthe sales force. Upon investigation, many members of the team were operating their ownbusinesses and not focused on this organization. The first step was to weed these people out,establish a market confident sales compensation program, and hire new recruits. Next, on theradar was the product development area. We used market analysis blitzes to determine demandand rapid prototyping to evaluate solutions. Safety and lean were the primary focuses in the plant.4. What were your key responsibilities and accountabilities?My key responsibilities included gross revenue, gross profit, operating income, and teamdevelopment.
5. List your major accomplishments. Please quantify the information (e.g. 20% increase in sales, etc)• Increased bottom line 92%, by process improvement and organizational sizing.• Improved inventory turns 47% via order staging and pull system implementation.• Raised China domestic sales volume 48%, through introduction of innovative stainless steel sinksinto retail/distributor channel.• Made organization cash positive in 60 days by evaluating cost structure of product categories andeliminating 20% of SKUs that were non-productive.• Established contracts with top tier wholesalers to secure future revenue. Transformed customerbase from small independent retailers to a top five distributor network in largest 10 cities in China.• Recruited multi-national top performers to all levels of the organization (including Controller) toestablish financial discipline, cost effective operations and innovative sales / marketing.6. What mistakes did you make in the position? What would you have done differently if you couldhave started over in the job?My initial evaluation of the current staff from the acquisition was dead on. I should have trustedmyself and acted earlier to make the required adjustments. In reflection, I discovered that thelocation of the business really has no bearing, the issue is strictly about business acumen andpassion for the position.7. What did your supervisor see as your major strengths?My strengths were the ability to work 8,000 miles from corporate and get things done on time andunder budget while moving the business forward quickly. He was impressed with mycommunication skills to corporate. A second strength was my ability to get things done the “Elkay”way in a country with differing views on business norms. In addition, I was able to handle adversity.8. What did your supervisor see as your areas for improvement?I continued to work on building new relationships back home as the Division President, CEO, andother key functions changed while I was living and working overseas.9. What was your last overall performance rating in this job? Please explain the scale, e.g., 5=exceedsexpectations, etc.My score was a 4/5. There were no partial points and my supervisor did not believe anyone was a5.
General Questions:1. In the leadership roles you have held in general management, explain the environment in whichyou worked and how you aligned the various functional areas - sales and marketing, operations,finance, etc – for the betterment of the business.I have worked in various environments from turnaround to sustaining success. In each of these thepath can be quite similar. Some key considerations include what is the current culture? Is it inalignment with what ownership expects? How has the organization performed in the past? Howdoes the team think the organization has performed? How are goals set? What behaviors wereencouraged / discouraged? What is the history of change management? Once these types ofquestions are asked we can determine better gaps in alignment and goals. My methodology withgoals and aligning functional areas has been to take my own goals and then work with eachfunction to create goals that support the top level goals, and complete up and down theorganization. For example goals for the VP of sales, linked to goals for outside sales, linked to goalsfor inside sales, etc. Goals for each area are shared with all areas so each understands how theother is trying to contribute to the overall success of the organization. Sometimes goals do conflictand the best approach is to acknowledge the fact and keep the team focused on the win/win.2. Describe your experience in opening up new markets for your business. Tell us how you set aboutto identify these markets, how you analyzed them to see if there were a fit for your business andthen how you infiltrated them, identified the “right” customers for your business model and builtthe relationship with them that led to business success.My main focus has been to understand where we are today and where we might be able to go inthe future From there I determine if our current processes and systems can support the newbusiness development. One example would be moving from a transactional customer base to acontractual customer base. What changes, if any, would be required in pricing policies, terms andconditions, credit policies, and sales training. My methodology was to use the team to do much ofthe research and analysis to create buy in for the new direction. One point of growth was that thetransaction cost per customer call was ~$300. As an example a $500 order with 45% GP i.e. $225is actually a loss of $75. In this example the sweet spot for this business was the midmarketcustomer which placed orders from $1000-$10,000 on average. We designed the above policiesand training around this customer base and re-emphasized the need to up sell and cross sell anycustomer below the sweet spot. We then attacked these contractual customers by understandingthe true decision maker, obtaining and audience, and selling our value proposition. In this case itwas our ability to hold their inventory for them in strategic locations and provide JIT delivery.While we were not the cheapest by far, the total cost of ownership for the customer was bestpractice.
3. Describe a time when you were able to develop and articulate a growth strategy as well asimplement it. Describe the role you yourself played in both the strategy creation andimplementation phases.One particularly effective strategy I was involved in related to product portfolio management andproliferation. In this case creating, repurposing product lines to fit specific market segments.Examples are big box retail, wholesale, decorative showroom retail, and big construction. Duringthe initial phase my primary role was facilitator. I found it effective to have each member do astrengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats (SWOT) analysis from their functional perspectiveand then bring all the required market research data off site where the team could completely focuson the task at hand. One important aspect of this is to have all impacted functions at the sessions.For example, if marketing wants to develop a new product line for the big commercial market,design engineering, manufacturing engineering, manufacturing, and advertising need a voice at thetable to lay out what is required. Once the analysis is done using SWOT and 5forces, a detailedaction plan must be made and signed off on by all. At this point my leadership role switches fromfacilitator to coaching and command to make sure the team stays aligned and the project stays ontrack.4. What analytic approaches and tools do you use?SWOT, Five Forces, profit center analysis, cost center analysis, cost per transaction, customerprofitability, Statistical Process Control, Overall Equipment Effectiveness, fish-bone diagram,material purchase price variance, KPI’s for the specific BU, sales per employee, Q/Q financialperformance, Y/Y financial performance, market segmentation, market size, market share, to namejust a few.
5. What seminars and/or formal education have you participated in over the last 10 years?Kellogg School of Business (Northwestern) New Product DevelopmentThe New Strategic SellingToyota (Elkay) Production SystemUniversity of Toledo MBA6. Have you significantly “raised the bar” for yourself over the last five years? What about for others?For each, explain how you did it: your approach, the problems encountered and the outcomes.For myself, I believe taking an overseas assignment and a sales/distribution company assignmentwere significant growth events both of which required me to move out of my comfort zone. Anexample from a subordinate was moving from sales manager to fabrication business manager. Thisforced the individual to stretch significantly in their understanding of how fabrication is done,scheduled, how take-offs are done, and how approval drawing are completed. This allowed theindividual to be much more effective when selling the product. Another example is moving aSupervisor from a very small facility where the individual was purely a working supervisor to theflagship facility where more hands off and more leadership was required.In both cases there was a transition from directive leadership to coaching and facilitatingleadership and delegating leadership. The lesson learned is that while an individual may be readyfor delegation in one aspect they may not be ready in another.7. If you were to arrange confidential reference calls with some of your major customers andprofessional relationships, what is your best guess as to what they would generally agree are yourstrengths and areas for improvement?The strengths you would hear about are that my teams do what we say we are going to do. If wemake a service commitment to land a contract we get it done for the customer. You would get thesame feedback from an internal customer or even professional organizations such as PlumbingManufacturers International or Metal Service Center Institute. Improvement areas might be publicspeaking.8. What would reference checks disclose to be the common perception among peers regarding howmuch of a team player you are?You win with people, sounds corny but it is true. Whose idea it is matters much less than helpingthe team get things done for the customer and the organization.9. Same question, but this time from your direct reports?
Direct reports would describe me as highly supportive of their development and success, andwilling to go to bat for them when they have passion around a new way of thinking. They would sayI was willing to let them try new things and be all they can be.10. When there is a difference of opinion do you tend to confront people directly, indirectly or let thesituation resolve itself (give specifics)?With a supervisor if it is a mission critical issue, then open frequent dialog often is the bestapproach. Same approach with peers. With subordinates it is sometimes appropriate to see if theteam can self correct on its own before jumping in too early. For medium or minor differences ofopinion that will not significantly impact the business overall it would be best to go along with theteam and support any new directives.11. When you delegate work, explain the process you use to determine what works gets delegated andwhat work you do yourself? When work is in fact delegated, how do you interact with those towhom you have delegated the work? What is your role in their work, if any?Work I would do myself would be related to Business Model, P&L, Talent development, processmethods and process discipline, and leadership approach. When work is delegated the instructionsand expectations should be clearly laid out and documented, including due dates and level ofdetails required. One lesson I have learned over the years when delegating, trust but verify. Forexample I may delegate the running of a kaizen event and have the team do the presentation at theend of the event, but I would reserve the right to check the analysis for accuracy and completeness.12. In what specific ways have you changed an organization the most (in terms of direction, results,policies, etc)?I believe in China the business unit was completely transformed through seeking new channelsand new channel partners and developing products that solved problems in each channel. Wecontinued the process on through the plant matching our production and distribution structure toour new sales structure.
13. What was your vision for your most recent job? Once in it was your vision supported by reality? Ifnot, what did you do? If it were supported by reality, how did you make your vision a legacy?My vision was to transform a significant percentage of the business from transactional (spot)purchases to contractual purchases. This allowed for larger more stable order book and backlog.Over time yes, as we added customer after customer to our contractual business model it becamesupported by reality. Twenty-five percent of the current business book is now contractual. Thelegacy is in the procedures and processes followed by outside sales, inside sales, and operations tosupport the on-going development of contractual business.Self Appraisal:Please provide a thorough self appraisal, beginning with what you consider your strengths, assets, things youlike about yourself and things you do well. What are your shortcomings and areas for improvement?A. Strengths:Arranger: figuring out the right course of action on limited and or conflicting data. Effectiveflexibility if A does not work move on to BDeliberative: stay focused stay the course on the strategy execution. Weight the risks and actaccordingly.Relator: able to communicate vision and goals and listen to others vision and goals. Relationshipshave value when they are genuine.Self Assurance: I have faith in my abilities. I have faith in my judgment. Never second guess yourself,learn from any mistakes and move on quickly.
Significance: Want to be known for the strengths I bring to the table and have the organization usethem to the fullest. Keep reaching for the next level.B. What are your principal developmental needs and what are your plans to deal with them?We all have strengths and weaknesses. My strategy in this areas has been to determine how myown strengths and weaknesses impact my current assignment, evaluate my team and theirrespective strengths and weaknesses, and align the strengths to overcome the weaknesses, i.e. playto each other’s strengths.C. How would you describe your leadership philosophy and style?Situational leadership, I prefer to choose the appropriate leadership style for the task at hand anduse the techniques that work for each individual. One size fits all leadership will not work for thediversity of direct reports in today’s business environment. One of my primary objectives is alwaysteam development, so this is a primary consideration when determining what leadership style isappropriate in the moment.D. How would you rate yourself – and why – in enthusiasm and charisma?I have a great passion for business and for manufacturing in particular. I enjoy the business processfrom request for quote to invoice. I approach each and every day to instill my passion into my teamand stretch for achievements that will empower and motivate the teamE. Do you consider yourself a better visionary or implementer? Why? Cite examples to prove yourpoint.At the GM level both are important. First you must be able to communicate your vision to the teamand get them passionate about achieving the vision. Next you must work alongside them andencourage them to execute the vision. In the beginning, I am a better visionary. I need to knowwhere we are going before I can effectively leverage my team for implementation.One example was due to a new threat from low cost imports. The vision I established was a 25%cost reduction/cost avoidance goal in order to match this threat. Our kaizen event resulted in anexcess of $3M cost avoidance for a larger annealing furnace. With the vision set, the team went towork.
This very simple solution resulted in 33% more throughput and removed the capacity constraintand the need for capital expenditure.F. What do you suppose your subordinates feel are your strengths and shortcomings, from their pointof view?a. Strengths: feedback I have received includes: empowerment, encouraging, fair judgment,hearing all views on a subject before jumping to any conclusions.b. Shortcomings: early on learning all the administrative tasks from RFQ to invoice. I overcamethis by following several types of orders all the way through the process to understand thestrengths and weaknesses of current state.
G. How do you work with subordinates? Fair and objective, I attempt to have a relationship to thepoint of knowing the person and what motivates them. Get the facts, meaning trust, but verify.When you began your present (or most recent) position:How many subordinates do (did) you have total, direct and indirect?83How many direct subordinates do (did) you have?10Of the direct reports you inherited, how many in each of the following categories did you have?A player (or A potential)1B player (without A potential)6C player (without A potential)3In the past five years, how many direct reports have you hired or promoted who turned out to be:A player (or A potential)10B player (without A potential)10C player (without A potential)1I have found it is much better to hire potential A players and develop them than having to expend valuabletime managing C players. It does not work. One must stay very focused on the vision and the execution inthis economy. If I am not sure about a candidate, I prefer to suffer through until I find the right fit. In thelong run it is better for the organization and the team.Career Needs:What are your career objectives?
To continue my experiences as a General Manager and one day become a COO or CEO.I certify that the answers given in this Self Administered Interview Guide are true, accurate and complete tothe best of my knowledge. In the event that I am employed by the company which is interviewing me for aposition, I understand that any false or misleading information I knowingly provided in my Self AdministeredInterview Guide may result in discharge.Signature:Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013