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Inside the Eminence Program: Rick's journey


Through our Industry Eminence Program, senior analysts decipher complex economic trends and deliver hyper-relevant insights for the industries that our clients operate. As a senior analyst in the program, Health Care Partner Rick Kes has become a core, real-time resource for leaders as they navigate the economic and technological shifts. He shares his experience in this cutting-edge program: 

In the fall of 2018, RSM US and Canada launched the RSM Industry Eminence Program (IEP). I was selected to join the inaugural class. RSM designed the IEP to prepare and position new senior analysts to understand, forecast and communicate macroeconomic issues that affect the middle market industries RSM serves. Each year, approximately a dozen professionals are chosen participate in this cutting-edge program that is focused on teaching analysts how to decipher economic data in context and use it to understand trends and support accurate forecasting for clients.

While the IEP was designed to deliver our firm’s strategy, The Power of Being Understood®, to the industries that we serve, for me it has helped me become very present in the market. By that I mean, with this training I am able to become a core, real-time resource for leaders as they navigate the economic and technological shifts with the greatest impacts on their business.

My journey up until now

I came to RSM as a campus hire in 2006. From day one I had the opportunity to work specifically with health care clients. During my career I have served some of the firm’s largest health care provider clients as well as many health insurance entities. While being industry focused for my entire career has certainly had its benefits, it also comes with challenges. For example, my focus on the macroeconomic environment and how technology impacts other industries was less pronounced. However, by being a part of the IEP my education in data, economics and technology has really broadened my perspective. The eminence training has helped me take a step back and understand gross domestic product (GDP), consumer behavior and other macroeconomic levers that play into C-suite decisions. I’m now able to speak and add value at that level. This changes the audience of who I can relate to and has given me a much broader perspective on data.

The minute I heard about the IEP I instantly decided I’d apply. I knew it was for me. Once accepted into the IEP, a kick-off meeting sets the stage for the three-year program. This meeting still stands out to me as one of the most memorable experiences of the entire program. I remember this was a big “aha” moment for me; I realized the extent to which the eminence program would transform my career, as well the firm, and this meeting set the bar for all of my experiences thereafter. The investment RSM makes in its talent is industry leading and truly inspiring.

IEP senior analysts gain access to the Bloomberg terminal, which provides data feeds from the world’s markets, all live and accessible in one platform. We were also assigned readings that pushed our understanding of what it means to be a service provider in the new economy. I gained in-depth knowledge of everything from crowdfunding to machine learning, as well as changes to the professional services industry. At the end of year one, my class attended a 3-day intensive on effective public speaking training at Carnegie Mellon, which normally forms part of their MBA program. Since then, I’ve been interviewed by major business media outlets. The training has helped my colleagues and I frame ourselves mentally as thought leaders, spokespeople and public-facing subject matter experts.

Equipping clients

IEP senior analysts deliver hyper-relevant insights for the industries that our clients operate in, reinforcing the fact that RSM understands client issues and needs, from the C-level perspective. 

Some senior analysts deliver thought leadership and forecasts to those industries where they are experts while others become part of pursuit processes, providing insights during the proposal stages with target companies, for example. Others may be brought in as part of strategic meetings with key clients and targets. I have addressed large key accounts and spoken to C-suite members, for prospecting, cross-selling or simply to serve as a sounding board, someone who understands the risks, can interpret and represent the data meaningfully, and help clients make the connection between strategy and action.

The impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 threw a sense of urgency into the eminence program. My colleagues and I mobilized to provide quick responses to ongoing issues. As a result, we published many articles and contributed to numerous webcasts. For me, this encapsulates the value of the program. Because the training has provided me with such a pulse on the industry, I envision the senior analysts being closely involved in recovery plans. The education has increased my ability to help clients manage their businesses through these times of deep uncertainty by delivering insights that they need right now. For example, I’ve been able to assist clients with navigating solutions and making decisions as to where to scale down and how to leverage government programs to stay in business.

What the future holds

When our firm recently launched the 2020 class of the IEP, my colleague David Stuart summarized expectations towards the program perfectly: “I’m most excited to share with others what I learn and to help RSM become a first-choice advisor for the middle market. I expect the program will teach me how to think differently. How to think outside the box.”

Going forward, I see the value of the eminence program continuing to accelerate. In year three, for example, there are plans to assign an eminent to a select client as a touchpoint and serve as an industry advisor in a more formal way.

Overall, the experience has been nothing short of transformative. It has allowed me to focus beyond my sector to deliver enterprise-level insights with confidence and clarity. It has been a wonderful opportunity.