Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Heroes Among Us - Profile of "Bill" - An Ideal Chief of Staff Candidate

The issue of finding meaningful jobs for veterans is much in the news.  Most of us are well aware of the struggle that many of the men and women just returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan are having in securing post-military jobs.  There is an additional layer of difficulty for those whose service occurred a few years ago - in the early stages of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom or even before.  More often than I care to recall, I have had prospective employers reject phenomenally well-qualified candidates because they cannot understand how the work they did in the military translates into solving problems and leading teams in the corporate world.   I see The White Rhino Report as one organ for educating readers and encouraging them to see military veterans through different lenses.

Many of these men and women, because of their extraordinary range of hard and soft skills, would make tremendous Chiefs of Staff in support of a CEO, CFO or Chairman of the Board.

I am pleased to offer a profile of one such candidate.  "Bill" represents the dozens of men and women in my network of candidates who are looking for the appropriate opportunities to deploy these skills in support of the right C-Level leader.

For those wondering what an ideal COS candidate might look like, consider the following profile…we’ll call him “Bill”.  This is the sort of candidate that can be a true “force multiplier” when injected into the right organization.

After graduating near the top of his class from West Point, Bill started his career as a helicopter pilot in the Army, drawn by the lure of being in the “thick of things” leading soldiers on missions that mattered.  By the age of 28, he had led combat units in Kosovo and played a key role in the 2003 Battle of Baghdad. After cutting his teeth in a crucible that few have the chance to experience, he attended an Ivy League business school program armed with an unparalleled set of leadership and problem-solving skills. 
In the years after obtaining his MBA, Bill sought out a series of high-intensity, high-impact roles in his search for challenges that would enable him to make an impact. In his first assignment, he was sought out by the CEO of a well-known consumer products company and charged with bringing structure to an “unmanaged” portion of the business that lurked within the organization’s matrix, but for which no one had responsibility.  A year later, he had wrung over $12M of savings out of the problem and set the company on a trajectory to realize multiples of that in the years ahead. 

With a major accomplishment under his belt and a desire to gain perspective, Bill then was drawn to a top tier consulting firm for the next four years. This gave him the opportunity to interact with leading executives and board members across a variety of industries while continuing to challenge him with projects of increasing impact.  Whether it was increasing operational efficiency, restructuring companies, or developing strategies, he thrived on the excitement of parachuting into corporate problem areas.  On the “tip of the spear” in tackling big problems, he honed skills that ranged from the aggressiveness of a pit bull to the sensitivities of a diplomat.  In a few short years, he had gained a wealth of perspective, but still had a burning desire to solve ever bigger problems.  So when he was asked to lead the turnaround of a small medtech company with a technology that could solve one of biggest challenges facing healthcare today, he jumped at the opportunity to be CEO. 

Over the next two years, Bill was faced with the two-headed challenge of turning around a company and getting it financed so that the clinical trials could move forward.  He successfully maneuvered the company through the turnaround, navigating challenges such as revamping the intellectual property portfolio, negotiating deals to clean up the capitalization table, and getting the company out of a multi-billion dollar hostage situation with a critical supplier.  While the turnaround progressed, the macro level fundraising landscape continued to deteriorate, with 2012 being called the worst investing environment since 1995 for early stage medical device companies…especially those companies with more stringent levels of regulatory approval.  With a fixed NIH grant budget and the FDA proving to be a moving target for his combination product, he was faced with the reality that his company now needed to achieve additional milestones on its own before being financed. Refusing to give up, he laid out a multi-year survival plan, secured another multi-million dollar NIH grant to move the company forward, and stepped out of the day-to-day operation.

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"Bill" - and many gifted leaders like him - are ready and eager for their next "deployment."  If you know of a company that could use the broad range of skills outlined above - either in a Chief of Staff or senior leadership role, please make them aware of Bill's story, and encourage them to contact  me.

I look forward to connecting Bill with his next employer.




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