A few months ago, I created Your Chief Advisors. Many people that I know have since asked me: “Why did you decide to create your own company?” or “What is the focus of your firm?”. I decided to write this post as a way to answer these questions.
Why create Your Chief Advisors?
The short answer: I see a very underserved market.
The long answer? For the past 12+ years of my career, I worked for Chief Financial Officers of mid-sized publicly traded firms. In each of these roles, I served as a trusted advisor and led many strategic Finance and Operational projects. It is from this experience that I realized one of the most difficult and often-overlooked aspects of being a leader in a strategically focused function: finding team members that have the right skills to execute on strategic initiatives.
It takes a special skillset to be able to create a vision, build a strategy on how to attain that vision, work through all the areas that need to be reviewed and changed, determine the appropriate changes, and implement these changes. It also takes a certain EQ to be able to get employees to buy into the change.
With each new position that I held, it would take me months to build up my team. Then, after building the team, it would take more time for this team to gel into a cohesive unit. I always felt like this was a waste of precious time, and inevitably would find myself searching for consulting firms that specialized in this area. I never had any success finding firms other than the large consulting firms, ready to work on huge projects for exorbitant fees. However; there were no firms excited to help me on my projects, which only required a handful of dedicated resources.
Today there are only 2 options for receiving consulting assistance with small to mid-sized projects. Option 1 is to utilize one of the management consulting behemoths. Option 2 is to staff your project with multiple independent consultants, and piece together your ideal team, which takes a very long time. Enter Your Chief Advisors. I believe there is a strong need in the market for a consulting firm that is versatile enough to assist with many different strategic initiatives while also being willing to work on any project, big or small!
What is the focus of Your Chief Advisors?
Again, the answer isn’t simple. And again, the inspiration came from the different CFO’s that I worked for during my different career stops. In each of these situations there was 1 key observation that I consistently noticed. The daily demands of running the company, pressures to meet quarterly earnings, stress of internal control failures, and the additional goals of the Board of Directors, left each of these CFO’s with little to no time to think strategically beyond the here and now.
With the little time that they would spend thinking strategically, the tasks to implement the strategy were often delegated to senior members of their team. While these senior team members all had good intentions to implement the strategy, they also lacked the time, skillset, or desire to produce significant gains in implementing the strategy.
This is where I came in. I had a passion for strategic projects. I would constantly offer my services to the CFO to help drive the projects forward, in addition to my everyday duties. While it would be difficult and require long hours on my part, the rewards of seeing strategic change continued to drive me. Over time, the CFO’s all saw the value that I was providing, and slowly my role would change. My original day to day duties were dispersed, and I became solely focused on these strategic initiatives. I became their Chief of Staff. Whatever they needed to get done, I was their go to guy.
I firmly believe that every C-suite executive needs a Chief of Staff. Someone that is a trusted advisor, and has no defined day-to-day job. Their sole role is to take some of the burden off the executive and be the person that focuses on program management and strategic initiatives. Let the Chief of Staff meet with multiple individuals to assess the status of different activities, and apprise the executive of issues within those projects. Be the person that keeps a pulse on the department and the business, and relays this information to the executive. Be proactive to keep the executive “looking good”.
While I believe the Chief of Staff role is crucial to every successful C-suite executive, I also know that not every firm can afford to employ a dedicated Chief of Staff for each executive. But what they usually can afford is a consultant that can add immediate value in this role, even if it’s just one day a week, a few days a month, or full time for a portion of the year. A consultant that can bring some of these attributes (such as project management) to drive individual strategic initiatives to fruition.
As I thought about all the different tasks that I performed as a Chief of Staff, I wanted Your Chief Advisors to be versatile enough to take on similar tasks for C-suite executives.
The overarching vision for Your Chief Advisors is to be the go-to resource for busy Finance and Operations senior leaders. While that is a very broad description, my experience as a Chief of Staff and the ambiguities inherent in the role, make me hesitant to explicitly define our services, as the needs of each C-suite executive are unique, and are ever changing. Therefore, the product that we deliver needs to be uniquely tailored to each client.
That being said, below are some of the areas that Your Chief Advisors excels at.
Process Re-Engineering: Achieve your organization’s maximum potential! YCA’s Process Re-Engineering services provide a thorough rethinking of process, workflow, information systems, and organizational structure. The main objective is to effect redesign of processes and technology to achieve dramatic improvements in efficiency, productivity, cost, and/or quality. In many cases, the redesign will be radical change.
Merger & Acquisition Integration: It is imperative for integration planning to begin as soon as possible, ideally immediately following the announcement of the deal. YCA’s experienced Integration Leaders will help you achieve synergies and unlock the true value of the merger, while limiting operational risk.
Project Management: YCA’s professional project managers will drive your project forward via leadership built on trust and credibility. We will always be honest with you and provide transparency in status reporting.
Internal Controls: Let YCA’s SOX and Internal Audit experts assist you with developing an Internal Audit or SOX testing program. Many firms also find it useful to have an independent firm do a review of process changes prior to implementation and formal review by external auditors.
Trusted Advisor: As a C-suite executive, sometimes you need a peer to talk through issues or decisions with. Whether you need 20 minutes or 20 hours, let YCA’s experienced advisors be your sounding board.