While many factors drive us in our careers, an overarching theme becomes evident in playing a key role in each business move we make: the desire to enter into our dream job, or as Scott Farrell (BS Applied Engineering Sciences, ’80; EMBA, ’89) operating partner at Wynnchurch Capital puts it, our “sweet spot.”
At the most recent Pung Executive Speaker Series of the fall semester for MBA students in the Eli Broad College of Business on Thursday, Oct. 18, Farrell reinforced to students the importance of their journey to their “sweet spot,” as this is where one builds their tool kit. In taking on new and unfamiliar roles, individuals build skill sets that can be applied to future jobs that will evidently lead you to a job within your sweet spot.
Farrell defines finding your sweet spot as having a job that encompasses “what you are good at doing, what you love to do, and what society values.”
“Do not disregard lateral moves,” said Farrell, who speaks from experience. His path has taken him from working multiple roles within a Fortune 150 company, to starting his own company, all the way to eventually finding his very own sweet spot in private equity.
Working within a big corporate environment was “a great place to start” said Farrell. There, he built up his tool kit with skills in engineering, sales, and marketing. This form of job also allowed him the time to develop a passion: flying. However, he found that something was personally lacking in this line of work. Between constant relocations, decreasing autonomy, and finding the pace of change slow, he knew he was not in his sweet spot.
Farrell’s next venture was becoming an entrepreneur, as he launched his own pre-revenue startup. There, he tested himself by building a company from the ground up. While it was an exciting point in his life, he also recalls it as being “exhausting.”
In the end, his company was “a vitamin and not a pain-killer” said Farrell, meaning investors wanted big home runs that made them fast money, and his company was not producing such results. In the end, Farrell had no time for his passion of flying and while he loved being the director of his own ship, he realized he lacked structure in this, and he was still not in his sweet spot.
After taking one more crack at big corporate life, and adding even more tools to his tool kit, Farrell landed a job in the middle market. Working in private equity, Farrell had found his sweet spot that ticked off all of the boxes: he was permanently stationed in the city he loved (Seattle, WA); he had high autonomy; a balance of entrepreneurial risk-taking and structure; and could fly his planes — his non-work passion of his — for the business.
The private equity firm that Farrell works for, Wynnchurch Capital, embraces creative solutions for complex transactions. The company has a “disciplined, value-focused investment approach that has been successful in developing across the performance continuum and across economic cycles,” said Farrell.
Wynnchurch Capital grows value in companies through its disciplined methodology for identifying improvement opportunities. The company does this through cultivating effective leadership; creating key focus areas for management; and teaching companies to use their very own tool kits to drive execution, generating ideas into reality.
Without his journey to finding his sweet spot, “I would not have had the tool kit necessary to do what I do now,” said Farrell. In sitting down with management teams and teaching them processes, Farrell puts to use the skills he has built over the years in his current line of work.