Carrying forward my experience of interviewing two very different CEOs, for my second blog, I am presenting the excerpts from the interview that I conducted with Gordon Keep – CEO, Fiore Management & Advisory Corp. Before the interview, I was in awe of his calibre and stature. Gordon has close to 37 years of work experience in the financial services industry, and it was a unique opportunity to interview someone who has significant life and work experience.
Gordon completed his MBA at the University of British Columbia in 1983. After working for a few different companies, he decided to start his financial advisory firm with his partner. This is one of the critical events that shaped his life because he and his partner only had their shared vision for the company but no additional resources. The most significant challenge he has faced in his life was establishing his company. He had no work-life balance and experienced burn-out. His work required the highest level of accuracy with no scope for error. He considers himself a risk-taker and believes that young professionals should explore different areas of interest before deciding on a particular career track.
Gordon has seen a lot more failures in life than successes and believes that failures are the best teachers. He looks for authenticity, accuracy, and commitment to work in his employees and values these traits combined with academic knowledge. He identifies himself as an undiplomatic leader and believes in complete transparency with his staff. His workplace has an open culture. He values candour in his employees and encourages continuous feedback.
When asked about leadership, Gordon shared that during his over three decades of building and leading a company, there were times at the beginning where he lost his composure. However, he recognized that it was erroneous and apologized for his transgressions. He learned from his mistakes and continues to grow and develop into a better leader. In fact, he has a high rate of staff retention and even has staff members who have been dedicated employees for decades. He believes that he is still learning how to lead and does not have a fixed leadership style. I genuinely admire Gordon’s openness and vulnerability in sharing, especially in this part of the interview.
As a leader, Gordon regularly interacts with young MBA students and loves to hear about their dreams and aspirations. He believes that they should focus on becoming indispensable and irreplaceable. They should be hardworking, perseverant and should always take guidance from people more experienced in life like their managers and mentors for continuous improvement and professional development. On a personal note, Gordon loves spending time with his family and considers himself fortunate for having such loving children. He has learned honesty and kindness from his parents.
The biggest lesson that I learned from this interaction was the importance of mentorship in life. In this fast-paced world, it is critical to focus on our overall personality development by encouraging constructive feedback from people more experienced than us. If I aptly quote Nancy Meyer’s movie, ‘The Interns’ tagline – “experience never goes out of style.” Our mentors, seniors, managers will always be ahead of us in one critical aspect – “experience”. It is time to tap into that and enhance our learning.
About the Author
Aparajita is a full-time MBA candidate at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business. Born and raised in India, she has ~7 years of professional experience in Investment Banking, Equity Research and Trading Floor. As a student ambassador at SFU, she is looking forward to writing blogs highlighting her unique experiences and learning throughout the MBA Program. She is a team player, collaborative, friendly, and approachable person. She is enjoying her stay at SFU’s Downtown student accommodation and loves to bike around and explore Vancouver.