Focus on what counts

In Focus: Smija Simon

Manager, Strategy and Business Transformation

January 31, 2018

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Each month, Citrin Cooperman will feature one-on-one interviews with members of our team, which we will share on our In Focus blog and newsletter.  We hope you enjoy getting to know us!

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How long have you been with Citrin Cooperman?

[Smija Simon] I’ve been with Citrin Cooperman for three months.  I may be new to Citrin Cooperman, but I bring over 12 years of business consulting experience with me to the team.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding your career?

[Smija Simon] I was once told that as an advisor, out clients look to us to have answer to their questions, but our duty as an advisor is to be a trustworthy one; which includes being credible (through knowledge and experience) and having integrity (doing the right thing even when no one is looking).  Rather than offering advice based on false confidence to a client, admit to not knowing the answer, but commit to finding out or connecting them with colleagues who may be better positioned to provide the correct advice.

How do you help your clients focus on what counts?

[Smija Simon] I have found that taking time at the beginning of an engagement to listen to the individuals who brought us in and work with them to clearly articulate what the end goal is e.g. using a simple exercise like, "at the end of this project, we will be successful if we..." creates the required anchor point to maintain focus.  Clarity of vision and alignment are two factors that go a long way toward focus and a successful outcome in almost any project.

What issues do you find typically keep your clients up at night?

[Smija Simon] Working with family-owned businesses and mid-sized companies I’ve observed that owners and executive management face the challenge of maintaining the right balance between being in control and delegating accountability.  There is a turning point in businesses where the CEO can no longer also be caught up with approving purchase orders for office supplies, but needs to shift toward being more strategic or tactical in their focus.  This is sometimes a daunting transition, and not knowing where to start can result in sleepless nights.  Thankfully, this is where we as Strategy and Business Transformation (SBT) can really help our clients through the transition.

What are your favorite books? 

[Smija Simon] One of the books that always comes to mind for me professionally is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. The messaging around how natural ability together with dedication and practice (the 10,000-hour rule) all contribute to achievement was a gentle reminder that no one is born knowing everything and yes, practice does sometimes make things perfect. When not in business mode, I do enjoy a good whodunit novel : ) 

What do you like to do outside of work?

[Smija Simon] I enjoy travelling and exploring new places – most of all experiencing cultures through food. I am an experimental eater, and would try almost anything. My husband, Tim, and I recently went to New Orleans. NOLA was such an interesting sub-culture – so colorful and diverse. I think it’s safe to say we ate our way through the trip as can been seen from our weekend picture collage!