I used to solve problems for massive companies.
I enjoyed the problems, not the environment.
I changed what i could change.
Now I solve problems for startups and scaleups.
I love it.
The longer version...
I am motivated by 2 passions. Firstly, I love improving things, particularly how businesses work: you can always talk to me about strategy execution, operational excellence, culture and systems thinking. Secondly, I love helping people unlock their potential and I get real joy from connecting people, mentoring, coaching and creating environments for teams to thrive and belong. When I get to combine these 2 passions, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
I started out working for Talent teams, hiring 50+ product and engineering folks into tech businesses and learning business development and account management along the way. Spending all day talking to Product people got me pretty excited about that world and I knew I wanted to travel so I tried to combine those two interests in my next role...I talked my way into a strategy consulting position where I spent 2 years problem-solving for big companies and Fortune 500 brands, working on product and customer experience strategy, developing GTM playbooks and facilitating org change, and yes doing a sh*t load of Keynote :)
Continuing to follow my curiosity, I learned to code and spent 3 years working in Product; first in distributed Agile teams (led product discovery and delivery) then helping leaders to scale-up remote product organizations and lead rescue/turnaround operations projects (trained as an Agile Coach and learned conflict management). A fun highlight was a joint venture that had to scale from 0 to a 400-person outfit in less than 6 months across multiple time zones.
Whilst I loved this kind of work, the constant travel wasn't compatible with the kind of son, husband or parent I wanted to be, and I also felt the big corporate environment (100k-300k+ employees) wasn't really where I belonged.
So, in 2017, I quit and joined a mission-driven business close to home, in a broad role with accountability for business transformation, remote culture design, increasing productivity, defining scalable processes for 300=>1000+ people and solving a wide range of strategic people and operational problems. This was a great learning experience and I got to hone skills in scaling and building teams, people management, giving/receiving feedback, strategy execution, goal setting, leadership coaching, and cross-functional project management. I also learned a lot about my core values and learned that whilst the problems were interesting the increasingly bureacratic environment was not a good fit for me. This learning co-incided with some very challenging conflict at work, pregnancy, trouble with my parents' business, a dream job rejection and the pandemic. I'd love to say I survived that melting pot unscathed but I didn't. I fractured.
I got some help and learned how to put the pieces of myself back together and I was able to figure out why this had happened, identify the values clash, understand it and move forwards. There's this quote, I don't know where it comes from but it's something like: ‘focus on what you can control, don't worry about the rest.’ I probably butchered that (sorry if it is yours!) but the essence is there and so i decided it was time to change what i could change.
I began a side hustle, working as an advisor for VC backed and bootstrapped tech start-ups that didn't have my skills in their executive team, were growing rapidly and wanted to avoid a lot of the organisational debt and scaling pitfalls I had some experience navigating.
After working with several early stage founders, I realised this was 100% the environment I was made for. I loved the low tolerance for poor behaviour, the frequent ‘sink or swim’ moments and constantly having to figure out how to go from 0 to 1. I also learned that I could add a lot of value with my generalist skills (change, problem-solving, strategy execution, team-building and getting sh*t done) as well as some slightly more specialist ones (scaling smart, avoiding waste and bureaucracy and not screwing up culture as you get bigger).
So, in 2021, I turned side-hustle into main hustle intending to: meet interesting people, solve interesting problems and hopefully find either John<>Mission fit or perhaps meet a co-founder along the way.
I'm currently filling COO shaped holes on a fractional basis and loving it. I'm open to doing this kind of work under any banner (I'm not a big fan of titles) and in any capacity (equity-based, interim, fractional, advisory).
So, if you need a hand bridging the gap between strategy and execution, or you have a difficult people, workplace culture or operational challenge that is costing you time, engagement or money, let's jump on a call and talk about how I can help you.
Product Discovery & Delivery
MY 'OTHER' SKILLS
Strategy & Ops Consultant
Currently working with Founder of a VC backed B2B eCommerce SaaS to transition from a sales-led business to a product-led business and raise Series A
Head of Coaching & Improvement
BusOps for 300=>1200 people scale. Bootstrapped and led cross-functional projects delivering 3X delivery speed, 2 quartile engagement uplift and £1.5m YoY cost out. Built a team of 10.
Remote scale-up coaching for product organisations including a 0=>400 people < 6 months.
Led award winning product delivery to 100k users.
Market analysis, customer strategy, operational excellence and digital transformation engagements for 10+ EMEA clients.
Hired 50+ people and grew key account revenue 40%.