John is an international executive with a wealth of experience driving growth and creating value for private equity owned businesses. John thrives in environments where he is tasked to build and develop new businesses, integrate add-on acquisitions and leverage relationships to rapidly monetize and grow revenue.
His strengths lie in identifying business and acquisition growth opportunities, as well as leading Cost Optimization, Technology Transformation, Commercial Excellence, Revenue Operations, Data-Business Intelligence, Analytics, Finance Excellence, Human Capital Strategy and Value Creation. John’s leadership has resulted in growth, new business development, expanded EBITDA and process maturity. We talk to John about what he brings to the operating table, the increasing demand for independent talent, and his recent successes in commercial excellence engagements.
Q. When you’re at a networking event, how do you describe your independent career status, and where you focus your work?
I drive value creation and transformation leadership through Commercial Excellence, which is essentially a math equation to solve that will drive the priorities of organic and M&A growth. By its nature it is a data exercise to assess data quality, but I also serve as connective tissue between the CEO, CFO, COO, CHRO, CTO and other core stakeholders in Private Equity backed companies.
Q. What are the specific benefits that you, as an independent, offer to the operating teams/portfolio company leadership? How do you explain the value your expertise brings?
Independent Consulting resources can be used to integrate multiple elements of a larger project like the role of a Chief Transformation Officer. Also, an independent consultant can be brought into solving a narrower focus like: preparing a CEO for a first board meeting in PE ownership, assessing current state go to market, establishing whether a compensation plan incentivises the right behaviors, and streamlining pipeline management reporting to drive core sales process and month end KPI aggregation.
Eventually independents become focused on certain outcomes and then through repetition and reputation you become a trusted advisor in a certain area of value creation focus. Bringing prior experience and in demand skills allows you to be that fresh set of eyes that most situations need.
With talent being so dis-intermediated today, one tends to be part of a wider eco system of long-term consultants including strategy firms, executive search firms and augmenting gaps in a Private Equity Firm’s Operating Partner/Resource program. I have also found more recently that independent consultants tend to be connective tissue for stakeholders in a firm. When transformation goes correctly there is someone playing the integrating and connecting role to drive speed and collaboration. Often times this is lost when multiple streams with focused expertise is deployed. For me the exciting part of an engagement is to watch problem solving and ideation happen. Eventually you will leave, and the management teams need to carry it forward.
Q. Why do you think there is increasing demand for independent expertise with PE operating teams?
Over the last 10 years, I think Private Equity firms of all sizes have been strengthening their operating resources teams. The battle for the unique type of talent the role requires is never over. The market has a very high demand that will only continue for independent consultants. There are two main drives of this.
1. Portfolio companies in PE under $200M of revenue have executive leadership gaps, poor data and reporting cultures and generally are not prepared for the speed, urgency and rigor that Private Equity ownership demands.
2. It should also be noted that most PE firms do not have unlimited budgets to add all the needed talent. This all leads to the use of management consulting firms and many independent trusted resources who can come in and quickly address cash draining and value draining issues. This demand is evidenced by the many talent cohorts and specialty talent/human capital platforms. I think this helps identify the talent to PE in a more efficient manner. It would not be a big leap next to see longer term contacts for independent consultants in PE to either solve an immediate operating issue or test the need for that talent area to be scalable and worth the investment to make it full time. This is benefitting both PE and the independent consultant currently and I see no decline in the demand for well tested talent that can demonstrate value creation.
Q. What advice would you give to anyone about to embark on an independent career as to how they can provide the best results for a client, while fulfilling their own career path?
I think you have to really be honest with yourself when you are thinking about being independent. Do want freedom and variety but do you actually like the steady paycheck and security more? You have to stack rank what is important to you. If variety, growth, freedom, vision and intellectual curiosity are things you value most then you can be successful.
You have to be relentless in meeting people and networking correctly with the right people. Building networks, building reputation and building focus in what you deliver and how you message is important. One has to take time to build thoughtful materials including resume(s), various versions of a BIO, other presentation decks and being able to share referenceable and successful work. I would recommend people get a career coach to help them in the first 1-2 years. They help with your story, keep you to a schedule to get materials done and generally everyone needs a thought partner. You have to invest in yourself in many ways and get used to doing it.
Looking for talent to support growth, value creation and processes excellence for your portfolio companies? Engage with talent like John by posting a project now, or by talking to us about how to build up a pool of similar talent in the field.