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Audrey Kabla, Epykomene, Paris

MARKET LIFE: Your Highest and Best Use

By Dr. Don Capener

Not too long ago, I talked with a close friend considering a career change. He expressed wanting to find further meaning in his work. He hoped  to make more of an impact on others, beyond just providing for his family. The phrase “my highest and best use” came up a few times in that conversation.

He used this phrase as a metaphor for what he seeks in a career, both for financial remuneration and opportunities to positively influence and mentor others. I became familiar with the concept of highest and best use while obtaining my real estate broker’s license in the State of Illinois. The term is used often in relation to the appraisal of real estate. In that context, highest and best use (HABU) is defined as the most probable use of a property which is physically possible, appropriately justified, legally permissible, financially feasible, and results in the highest value of the property.

Approaching a Job Search

If you translate this definition into how to approach a job search, it might read like this: an aspirational career move which is physically possible, appropriately justified by one’s experience and education, legally permissible, financially reasonable according to market conditions, and results in the highest value to that individual.

When you approach a potential career change, how could you make the highest and best use of your talents and experience? It’s likely you’ll find yourself considering more than just financial compensation.

Sometimes the highest and best use for someone is to break out on their own and start something new.

That was the case with Audrey Kabla who was a guest speaker in the Davis College of Business. Audrey worked for Hilton and other iconic brands after graduating with an MBA in luxury marketing from the Paris School of Business. JU students enjoyed listening to this young, successful entrepreneur explain the decisions that led her to break off working with a large marketing consultancy and go off on her own.

She discussed her start-up in luxury goods marketing, Epykomène, based in Paris, France. It wasn’t just her French accent and knowledge of French culture that kept JU students intrigued. It was her courage to launch the agency in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. She could only raise half her expected annual salary as start-up funding for a small business coalition in Paris and got started by working out of her home.

She talked in-depth about the thrill and peril of launching her very own service business. Audrey’s career decision was driven by what she perceived as her highest and best use at that juncture in her career. Though maximizing her compensation in the first few years proved difficult, she found great satisfaction in hiring and mentoring others, and in helping clients succeed. At an age where her appetite for risk was strong, she overcame the all too familiar fear of losing a steady corporate paycheck.

The Pros, Cons, and Questions

Eventually, financial success came Audrey’s  way, but she recalls the downside of becoming the owner of a small agency. She explained that the role of the managing partner can be lonely, and when you make a mistake or a costly move, owning that is painful and always has repercussions.

Nine years years later, Audrey is once again evaluating her highest and best use professionally. With the Paris-based luxury goods agency humming along nicely, she is now considering what opportunities await her outside of Paris. At the Davis College of Business, we all wish her much success as she pursues international opportunities in North America and Africa.

So, where are you in terms of feeling like you’re making a difference at work? What career maximizes your talents and experience? Are you looking for opportunities to significantly impact the industry or people you care about most? Are you contemplating a change, like Audrey?

Whatever answers you uncover, remember to consider your highest and best use.

Dr. Don Capener, Dean of the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business

MARKET LIFE is a recurring feature in WAVE, a dedicated news source at Jacksonville University. E-mail commentary and questions about market and money matters to Dr. Don Capener, Dean of the Davis College of Business at Jacksonville University, at dcapene@ju.edu. Or read the latest from Dean Capener’s desk on LinkedIn.

For more information about Epykomène, an agency specializing in marketing services for luxury goods, visit http://www.epykomene.com.