A CEO’s CFO
When people ask what I do I unintentionally, hesitate because I don’t fit easily into a neat package. Essentially, I put my 30-year history of financial, operational and executive experience to work shoulder-to-shoulder with middle-market CEOs—integrating the numbers with the operational side of business. The “I don’t fit easily into a neat package” dynamic addresses our natural tendencies to appraise what people are:
“He is a financial type.”
“You can tell she is a former CEO.”
“His cautious nature no doubt has its foundation in his days as a banker.”
I am fortunate to be able to transcend set definitions taken from a broad and complimentary background in my service to CEOs.
Knowing the numbers well and how to navigate financings and the sell-side or acquisition process are in my wheelhouse. My time as a CEO provided a foundational perspective that can only be absorbed by being in the trenches – the scar tissue was, and continues to be, beneficial.
Finally, a long history of Board participation and efficient use of outside tax, accounting, legal and financing professionals familiarized me with how to leverage these valuable elective resources to build company value.
Numbers Can Be Intimidating
If your title is CEO, you have some major accomplishments behind you and challenges ahead. If anything is going to trip you up as you grow, it’s usually the numbers. For many CEOs, numbers are the most daunting and overwhelming part of the job.
Call me what you like: mentor, advisor, coach or alter ego; I work behind the scenes on financial and operational issues to seamlessly extend your skillset.
A former client CEO once observed that working with me was “like putting on a prosthetic arm giving me full and seamless access to my skill set on an as needed basis and it made no difference whether Don was at my side or behind the scenes.” I was, and continued to be, flattered by this profile.
I distill and interpret the numbers for you, and put processes in place to make them both accessible and actionable. I advise you on financings and their operational impacts; and I’m adept at identifying and coordinating beneficial relationships with outside professionals.
Having me at your side takes a commitment on your part, along with an appreciation for constructive objectivity, vulnerability and unwavering honesty.
I offer a fresh pair of eyes unafraid to challenge you and ask tough questions without preconceived ideas or opinions.
At a minimum, just knowing each other will produce connections and awareness that we might otherwise miss. And, typically, our dialogue is punctuated by candidness and authenticity, which (almost) inevitably leads to profitable insights.
Often, my CEO and CFO engagements evolve into a mentoring relationship and/or a broader Board role to include where appropriate, both the Lead Director and Corporate Development responsibilities.
As a mentor, coach, and trusted advisor who is uniquely skilled and quietly positioned to ensure the numbers side is accessible, productive and artfully integrated with the operational side of your business.
You get the whole package and that package doesn’t easily fit in most people’s quick appraisal and pattern recognition.
Privately, I like being that professional that doesn’t fit in an easy definition as it allows an additional dimension of access and pattern recognition for me especially in negotiations. It has also sensitized me to being cautious in how I subconsciously assess and appraise others in the hope of understanding where they are coming from – ok to appraise, but hold it lightly as you gather additional information.