A look at the people behind the numbers in area business.
Darren Benoit, Kingfisher
Title: Managing partner
Staffing industry veteran Darren Benoit is offering a short-term solution to companies seeking interim top-level accounting and finance professionals at Kingfisher, a niche, Minneapolis-based contract staffing firm.
Benoit launched Kingfisher after spending 10 years in finance staffing consulting, including working as a director at staffing firm Salo and co-owning and running contract consulting firms in other cities.
Kingfisher places experienced executive finance and accounting consultants on a project or to serve on a short-term basis, Benoit said. It is targeting companies with $300 million to $1 billion in revenue. “Unlike any other firm in the Twin Cities, we work only with consultants that are director level and up, or roughly the most senior 10 to 15 percent of the management finance population,” Benoit said. “We’re the right group to call if you have a project that’s high stakes, high visibility or where people’s jobs are on the line.”
Typical assignments for Kingfisher consultants include merger and acquisition lead and support, project management, process redesign and interim executive roles.
Benoit believes Kingfisher can capture top senior-level talent in a market that has the second-highest concentration of employed finance and accounting professionals among U.S. metro areas, trailing only Washington, D.C. He attributes that ranking to the number of large companies based here, the mix of industries (financial services, manufacturing/consumer goods, medical device and health care) they represent and an abundance of local postsecondary accounting and finance programs.
Benoit has a master’s degree in strategic management and marketing from the University of Minnesota.
Q: How did you identify the opportunity for executive-level finance and accounting contract consulting here?
A: Throughout my staffing and consulting career, I’ve naturally gravitated toward the more complex, challenging projects. In talking to senior-level consultants in the Minneapolis area, it was clear that their relationships with existing firms were tenuous at best because they were always competing for time with countless other candidates at all levels. Kingfisher combines what I like to do with an existing market need for better service.
Q: How are you recruiting consultants for Kingfisher?
A: I’m recruiting on a pure networking basis. On Day One, I already had relationships with a large percentage of the most senior consultants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. … We constantly meet with prospect consultants to ensure that clients have multiple options.
Q: Why are companies looking for short-term top-level talent?
A: Significant change, like a merger or acquisition, creates needs that aren’t permanent. The same goes for sudden executive departures, sabbaticals or any major projects undertaken.