Alumni profile: Jeff Aplin, President, The David Alpin Group
The David Aplin Group has two reasons to celebrate in 2015. Not only is this year the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding in 1975, but David Aplin’s namesake business marked the occasion in style. It announced its arrival as a Gold Standard winner among Canada’s Best Managed Companies for 2014, an achievement reserved for companies that maintain their Best Managed designation for four consecutive years.
Alumni Connections recently sat with David’s son Jeff, who took over as the Group’s President and Head of Corporate Services following his father’s 2011 retirement.
Congratulations on winning the Gold Standard of Deloitte’s 2014 Canada’s Best Managed Companies awards. What does this recognition mean to your people and company?
I speak for all of our people when I say we’re absolutely thrilled about the award, especially because it coincides with our 40th anniversary. We’re celebrating two milestones this year. Participating in Best Managed enhanced our business, our connections and our brand. The rigour of the application and coaching from Deloitte challenged us to work harder and re-think some of our strategies. And by being part of this “special club,” we met and connected with other successful private companies and potential clients. In addition, the recognition has helped, and will continue to help, attract and retain talent which is imperative for our ongoing success.
Tell us about your career and present job?
I started my career in Deloitte’s consulting practice in Calgary upon graduating with an MBA from the Haskayne School of Business. It was during the time of Sarbanes-Oxley and when Deloitte merged with Arthur Andersen in Canada, so it was exciting to be part of the firm and witness all of the changes taking place. At Deloitte, I had an amazing experience; I learned a lot, worked with smart and interesting people and formed great memories.
The decision to leave Deloitte was difficult. I loved consulting and still do. If it wasn’t for the opportunity to work for the company my father founded, I’d still be in consulting today. But at the David Aplin Group, there’s never a dull moment. From a small beginning in the Edmonton house I grew up in, the Group now has 10 branches coast-to-coast across Canada offering a full suite of recruiting solutions.
What was the most important experience you gained from your time at Deloitte that you continue to leverage today?
At Deloitte I developed a skill that is simple but critical to any service or business. It entails doing a “quick study” of a client by asking good business questions and listening to understand the needs, the lay of the land and the people. Being exposed to a wide variety of organizations helped me hone this skill which I use today with each client engagement.
What is your best memory from Deloitte?
I was part of a strategic project that aimed to identify alternative and sustainable energy resources. Our work covered a whole bunch of energy clients across Canada from hydro companies in Ontario and Quebec to pipeline and oil and gas companies out west. This was my favourite piece of work, and the most intellectually challenging and forward-thinking project.
What is your favorite piece of business advice?
There are many, but the one that comes to mind is: “Be tough because business is.” I can’t remember who said it, but I often think about it when making difficult decisions.
What inspires and drives you?
What I call “the triple win” is the reason I do what I do. I have one of those rare jobs where if I excel, everybody wins. When we secure the right candidate for a client, the client wins, the newly hired employee wins and we get paid for doing the job. Helping contacts and friends find the right jobs and candidates is something that we’d naturally do anyway. I always think it’s neat that we’re able to build a business around this. I thrive on being able to be of service to people every day. Even for the majority of candidates who do not get the job, our focus is to add value and “leave people better than when we found them.”
I love being a father to my three amazing children. I have two sons, 13- and 10-years-old and a five-year-old adopted daughter.
What’s your favorite activity?
Heli- and powder skiing in British Columbia. It’s an exquisite experience, good skiing due to the large amount of snow, and magnificent natural views.
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, on the real life story of Louis Zamperini