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We are working with Specialty Commerce in their search for a GM, Specialty Continuing Education based in West Bridgewater, MA 02379.

The GM champions, leads, and directs a division with full profit and loss accountability. S/he is responsible for front end business functions: product development, business development, marketing (online and offline) as well as back end business functions: contact center, distribution center, finance, human resources, information technology, etc. Responsibilities may include retail stores/outlets.

The GM will be responsible for establishing and attaining short and long-range objectives while developing a strategic plan for the organization within the business concept set forth by the corporation within guidelines for capital investment and resource allocation, basic accounting policy and fundamental HR policy.

HARRY’S COMMENTS: When friends ask me why, on spec, I write such detailed job postings, normally I’ll reply that conventional job postings simply don’t do my clients’ searches justice. This year, my firm will be contacted by 350 companies and my team and I will take 200 of those projects. Without getting into detailed specifics, one of the first things I’ll ask myself about a recruiting assignment is …

Can this search be closed on the back of the single-story? Is there something really cool about the job, a “hook” if you will — and will the role be truly reputation enhancing for the winning candidate?

The last time I worked with Christian Feuer of Specialty Commerce, I had a wonderful time and I learned a great deal about direct to consumer marketing. Christian is the former President and CEO of some of America’s best loved DTC brands, including Haband, Draper’s & Damon’s, Norm Thompson and uBid.com. You can see Christian’s Linkedin bio here.

This GM role with Specialty Continuing Education reports to Christian.

Specialty Commerce is a holding company of highly specialized brands which market through direct channels, including catalog, online, in call centers. Within that, Specialty Commerce operates Specialty Continuing Education, a growing online education and recertification business that provides recertification services to professions that require professionals to recertify every 2 years. The company is fully accredited to the industries it services, and it operates through the following websites:

  • WesternSchools.com certifies APNs, Nurses, Social Workers, MFTs, Counselers, Psychologists, Psychiatric Techs, Nursing Home Admins
  • ce-express.com certifies Nurse CE, Social Work CE, Counseling CE, Marriage and Family Therapy CE, Respiratory CE, Physical Therapy CE, Occupational Therapy CE, Dental Professionals CE
  • adinet.org certifies Dental CE, Dental Hygienist CE, and Dental Assistant CE
  • gscce.com certifies Dental CE, Counseling CE, Marriage and Family Therapy CE, Chemical Dependency Counseling CE, Physical Therapy CE, Occupational Therapy CE, Respiratory Therapy CE, Social Work CE
  • rcecs.com – All courses meet National Board For Respiratory Care (NBRC) Continuing Competency Program requirements. NBRC accepts courses approved by the AARC.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years, you’ll appreciate the attractiveness of any business that successfully markets to the healthcare space. I could write pages on the growth potential of the dental, respiratory, nursing, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and home nursing industries. Extraordinary growth is forecast for everyone of these verticals.

Take nursing.

According to the American nursing Association, there are 3.1 million licensed registered nurses in the United States. Currently, 2.6 million of those nurses are employed. Assuming on average each nurse requires recertification every other year, and each year more than 1.3 million nurses are in the market for Specialty Continuing Education’s services.

And that’s says nothing about the demand in the counseling, dental, and other professional fields. All told, tens of millions of people in dozens of industries require recertification, which bodes well for SCE’s ability to cross sell and upsell its current clients while branching out into new industries.

The underlying economics of SCE’s business are very favorable: Its customers provide a recurring revenue stream given that they require recertification every 2 years, and SCE owns outright all of its content, which minimizes the firm’s cost of goods sold. Essentially, SCE sells information products, and I’ve written previously about the benefits of the information marketing space:

Information products offer a recurring revenue stream, they are evergreen (for the most part), can be delivered anywhere / anytime, and are incredibly high-margin. And the best part is, historically training in most of SCE’s has been managed through seminars which can cost upwards of $1000. It is a great opportunity to develop new products and services costing hundreds of dollars less, where SCE’s hard costs are a fraction of that.

I share this with you because this will be your business to grow.

But it won’t be easy. Companies like Gannett are beginning to make inroads into a growing and ever-changing market. No doubt you’ve read about online education and the game-changing innovations being introduced there. Khan Academy is a fine example of the innovative new models attracting talent and capital, and major universities are rolling out online offerings as well.

There’s no telling what the education space will look like in five years, which is why as SCE’s GM, you’ll need to spend much of your time talking to customers, suppliers, thought leaders, and traditional educators about how SCE should position itself for future success. Again, SCE has a highly effective operating model, a great team, a very healthy house file, excellent brand awareness in growing markets, and thousands of hours worth of accredited content in inventory. That’s a nice head start.

Should you apply?

  1. YES, IF … you have a track record of success in direct marketing and ecommerce.
  2. YES, IF … you have real P&L experience and have actually grown a business. By this, I’m talking about managing costs, people, and other assets to drive a particular business outcome. During your interview with me, I’ll expect you to share examples, actions, and the results of your experience in this area. Your references may be asked to corroborate your story.
  3. YES, IF … if you have some experience in online product development, management, and marketing. During your interview with me, I would expect you to step me through fundamental things like: What problem did your product solve? For whom did you solve that problem? How big was the market opportunity? and How did you measure success?

Peter Drucker was famous for saying that only two things matter in business: marketing and innovation. You’ll need to know a lot about both in this role. It’s essential that you can influence both the development of the firm’s online products, as well as their marketing. The company’s prosperity depends on it.


  • Operate as a member of the corporation’s executive leadership team primarily responsible for developing and implementing short and long term strategic plan; managing the business to achieve strategic goals; changing approaches to achieve desired outcomes.
  • Champion / Lead in short and long-range strategic plan for the division; managing the business to achieve strategic goals with full responsibility for achieving revenue growth, profitability and other key financial targets for the division.
  • Responsible for business development through an optimal mix of organic growth and growth through partnerships and acquisitions, etc. Includes: deal sourcing, due diligence, valuations, selection, negotiations, closing and integration into daily operations.
  • Oversee functions to support the division’s goal achievement:
  • Develop and implement division strategic plan.
  • Development of product line(s), new product launches, etc.
  • Marketing: online, offline (catalog, circulation, advertising) merchandising, creative, analytics
  • Business development through partnerships, M&A, organic growth.
  • Contact and distribution center operations to maximize customer satisfaction.
  • Ensure the division’s business is conducted within compliance of applicable regulations and/or industry standards (human resources, finance, information technology, etc.)
  • Marshal resources to ensure the division is properly organized to achieve desired results: capital, people, process and tools.
  • Build and sustains key relationships, internal and external, to ensure focus on business unit priorities and deliverables. Examples: corporate headquarters, board of directors, other divisions or business units, etc.
  • Keep the corporation apprised of division operations, performance and financial condition.
  • Manage contracts and relations with vendors.
  • Manage vendor quality assurance standards program.
  • Hire and retain skilled and motivated top talent through effective leadership approaches to selection, on-boarding, performance management, development, coaching, talent reviews and succession management. Promotes and guides transfers.
  • Oversee the development of and utilizes metrics to determine the effectiveness of division operations and reasons for performance variances. Provides leadership and direction to make changes to fuel revenue and profit growth, drive efficiency, improve performance, streamline processes and lower costs.
  • Oversee the development of division expense budgets, capital spending plans and workforce plans. Manages and operates within and manages to approved budget.
  • Represent the division to the financial community, industry groups, key customers, representative of government and regulatory agencies and the general public.
  • Management may, at its discretion, assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time.
  • May serve as an advisor to the Board of Directors.
  • May be responsible for securing financial funding from private equity or venture capital firms and other financial institutions, buyers to transfer ownership or leading the firm to a public offering.
  • May be responsible for leading and managing growth through retail outlets and their profitability.


  • Proven track record of successfully leading and implementing business strategy for all functions for a division or corporation; previous P&L responsibility required
  • Expertise in related products / industry
  • Excellent leadership and management skills
  • Experience effectively attracting, selecting, developing and retaining a multi disciplined leadership team of top talent
  • Ability to consistently build and sustain strong and trusting relationships in and outside the organization (CEO, peers, direct reports, all other employees and outside stakeholders including board members, advisors, industry gurus & 3rd parties, etc.) through excellent communication skills including but not limited to: listening, questioning, coaching, collaborating, influencing, negotiating, writing, presenting
  • Ability to lead change, solve problems, resolve conflict and assist others in their development of these abilities
  • Commitment to using data or evidence based decision making
  • Computer: proficiency using Microsoft Office Products (excel, word, powerpoint, outlook).


  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent, MBA or CPA preferred
  • Required: 12+ years related experience with at least 4 managing all or nearly all functions for a business unit or product line, previous P&L experience preferred
  • Proven track record of effectively leading people resulting in achievement of organizational goals
  • This person is a general manager for all front and functions of a general education business, marketing, sales, product development, catalog, outbound phone calls to wholesalers


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