SSupported by cloud hosting provider DigitalOcean – Try DigitalOcean now and receive a $200 when you create a new account!

Executive Coaching For Private Equity CFOs, Controllers And VPs

Listen to this article

Below is our recent interview with Edith Hamilton, CEO of NEXT New Growth:

Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to NEXT New Growth?

A: NEXT New Growth provides executive coaching for companies owned by private equity firms. I specialize in working with CFOs and finance leaders.

I’m a professionally certified coach, and more importantly I have 25 years of boots-on-the-ground leadership experience in finance, operations, process improvement and marketing. I’m told I have a clear talent for equipping leaders to grow. Part of that comes from having worked at companies of all sizes – from middle market to Fortune 50. In fact, I was once dubbed “a catalyst” by Fortune 500 CEO Kent Thiry.

And that’s exactly what I aim to be when I coach: a change-agent. How? I partner with my clients to craft a clear “shared vision” of what must be done. To challenge the process, raise standards, and to model the way. To ensure they have the right person in the right job, and with the right attitude: then, enable others to act. All the while, showing clients how to encourage their team, their peers and even their leader – with both words and actions.

Q: Who are your executive coaching clients, and what are some of the key challenges you’re helping them solve?

A: The CFOs, VPs of Finance, Controllers and Finance Directors I work with are on point to deliver the growth, process improvements and cost savings that generate high multiples of EBITDA. These are the men and women charged with not just improving KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), but also writing the story that shows the value they, with the CEO and PE firm, were able to add in the years leading up to a future transaction. Most of the companies I work with have revenue between $100 Million to $800 Million, with a few in the $20 – $75M range and a couple as large as $1-2 Billion.

These talented leaders are typically in the mid-30s to early 50s, running fast-growing businesses – or turnarounds. And they are under a lot of pressure to perform. Some have recently been promoted to CFO. Others have been in the job a while, and now their company’s been acquired by a private equity firm: they see expectations for analytics and insights have suddenly skyrocketed. And they now know that “what got me HERE, won’t get me THERE”.

Sometimes, a CFO client will hire me privately when they are thinking of making a transition to a new role. More typically, a CFO or VP of Finance seeks me out when he or she has just landed a great new role and thinks, “I need a clear, efficient process to set myself up for success in my First 90 Days. I need a plan to learn the new business, create great relationships, focus my energy, identify some early wins – not to mention, deal with the inevitable tests of my authority in a way that leaves others admiring my ability to win others over.”

Forward-thinking PE firms have hired me to prepare C-level executives who will be taking on a new role in a few months. There, my job is to enable that leader – and especially female executives – to create a bigger, bolder vision of what their impact can be, and how to step into the full power of their new role from the start. In practical ways that others will buy into, and not roll their eyes.

Q: What types of executive coaching solutions do you offer for CFOs and other clients?

A: NEXT New Growth is most often hired when one or more of these situations occurs:

1. Soon after deal-close. When a Controller or CFO is asked to undergo a mind-shift and step up the game as expectations from PE firm includes a faster close, more FP&A insights, higher quality, quicker pace.

2. When the “CFO” is focused primarily on keeping the books, and needs to become more forward-looking: more strategically engaged with the business and a better partner for the CEO.

3. When a Leader is untalented with talent. When an executive is good with strategy and numbers, but not in selecting the team. He or she needs guidance to ensure the Finance or Operations group has the right person, in the right job, with the right attitude, for every role.

4. When a new hire is flaming out. Sometimes, a new hire started out well but is now making mistakes that cause the PE firm to doubt his or her capabilities. He or she is not meeting expectations, and a new approach is needed.

5. When a Leader is not ready for prime-time. Occasionally a good leader needs additional “polish” in how he or she presents to the Board, to bankers and others stakeholders: verbally or visually, or both.

6. When a CFO or other Leader is struggling with Leadership Practices. He or she may be great with strategy and numbers but rough on the team, or leads outside the guidelines of the desired culture at the company. Sometimes, our IQ is higher than our EQ (Emotional Intelligence). When a leader has both the desire and potential to grow, we can make huge strides.

7. When a firm is looking to actively promote women’s leadership, and representation in senior ranks or on the Board. Even the most talented, qualified women sometimes struggle with how to assert their power and influence in a way where that won’t get them labelled as “a b**ch” – a label many fear, even as senior men have gotten ever more supportive. Yet old mental models die hard, and when a female leader is fearful, she can give away much of her authority in ways that are not good for their company. As a certified WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise), and thanks to my own journey as a female executive, I have unique tools that equip women to wield the proper scope of their authority while being true to their values around kindness, respect, and delivering results in ways that are authentic.

Q: How do you produce great outcomes as an Executive Coach – especially for CFOs?

A: First, we develop a tailored plan to achieve specific goals – such as becoming more operationally focused, leading change, improving team performance, creating capacity, or being more impactful with colleagues and in the boardroom.

Second, we may use Assessment Tools ranging from a simple StrengthsFinder and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), to DISC which predicts behaviors, and Driving Forces that give insights into what moves and incentivizes a leader. We may also do a 360 Review which offers a measurable baseline from up to 18 colleagues, direct reports, managers and others (such as board members and operating partners). Then we develop targeted action steps to improve in specific areas.

I coach CFOs and other executives to use a “feed-forward” method: not the usual “feed-back” which can feel negative and evoke feelings of shame. Applying “feed-forward, we select ONE area for improvement at a time. The client then asks key stakeholders a simple question every couple of weeks. What is that?

Well, suppose the goal is to become more analytical, more strategic. You say, “Tom, what are some ideas you have for me to more analytical and strategic?” Whatever response that elicits, I coach leaders to reply with only 2 words: “THANK YOU”. (No excuses, or “I already tried that”, or “that’s a stinky idea.” Only a sincere “Thank you, Tom. I can’t promise to do everything, but I want to get better at this, so I do promise to do SOMETHING.”)

Most importantly, my coaching framework is very experiential. We really get to know the sound, smell, weight, taste, color or other feelings around whatever a limiting belief is. Naming it, knowing it clearly and determining to be done with it is the vital start. Then we explore, physically, creatively, courageously – what COULD it be like to be free of that? Let’s create a new metaphor – a new experience! – of living in accord with your core values.

We also identify the ways in which you are likely self-sabotaging yourself. There’s a great metrics-based assessment that reveals the strength of your 9 potential Saboteurs, and we get deeply in touch with that Inner Leader, the Sage, the Wise One who knows not only what is needed – it has the power and courage to do it.

And of course, there’s accountability. What will you do? When will you do it? Who will you be accountable to? Me, as your coach? Your boss? Your team? How will we measure progress?

Often, we also develop a CFO Dashboard to create a visual snapshot of key areas the CFO is responsible for, and whether that area is meeting expectations, is going particularly well (in green), or needs urgent attention (in red).

Q: What are the company’s plans and goals for the future?

A: Becoming more visible in the private equity arena. Executive coaching for CFOs, COOs and other leaders is game-changing. It’s not about incrementally edging up efficiency to do more; it’s about breaking the mold and doing things differently, better. Highly experiential learning techniques lead to breakthrough perspectives, and tap fresh energy for clients. We address both beliefs and habits that hobble performance and restrict growth. We craft a fresh vision together that has immediate impact, and drives lasting results.

My goal is for NEXT New Growth to become the trusted partner for hundreds of middle-market portfolio company CFOs and their Operating Partners in coming years. As CEOs and PE firms see the changes in their finance leader, I want them to spontaneously mention it in chats with peers in the hallway and on zoom calls. When a colleague mentions some challenges their CFO is facing, I want everyone who’s worked with me to spontaneously respond, “There’s someone you should meet. I’ll send you a link to Edith Hamilton – the best executive coach and CFO coach I’ve ever worked with. She’s been there, done that. Clients rave about her. Her process is clear. And the results she evokes are consistently reliable.”

Activate Social Media: