Congratulations to Todd & Lasse
As FilePro enters its second generation of being there:
I am very pleased to announce that effective from 1st January 2020, Todd Keeler will assume the role of CEO for FilePro, ably assisted by Lasse Stenersen, co-director and CTO.
I will step back from my role as CEO and continue on as a director and in the capacity of CFO for the foreseeable future.
A great Succession Plan Story
For all those out there considering succession, I will share the process that we have gone through. It started with an initial concept some 5 years ago and has been a work in progress ever since.
The initial question, was of course, “Do we sell or do we take this company into the next generation?” It is fair to say that we had a number of offers for the former.
Personally, and on behalf of our shareholders, an antagonising question, but in line with our client centric culture one that needed to be addressed.
Five years ago, we developed the good old “5 Year Plan”. I recently reviewed that plan and I am excited by the fact, that we have stuck to it and are in fact ahead of schedule.
Get Help and experienced advice
I want to recommend to anyone considering this process, “Get Help”. We did and I want to thank at the outset of this story both Stella Angelo, ex Macquarie Bank and now an independent consultant who has worked with us as a marketing and strategic advisor for over 6 years and Linda Murray of Athena Leadership Academy, who has been our company, and my personal coach for the last 5 years and throughout this process.
It is not Easy
From the outset, this was going to be a challenge. Not just the logistics, addressing the needs of all of the stakeholders, clients, shareholders and staff but the transition itself.
If you are a business owner, it is a very disconcerting experience. What is the right decision? What do I really want? How about my retirement? What about our clients? What about our shareholders? How do I give up control? (More about that later) How do I keep everyone happy?
The emotions run the full gambit. There is no black and white answer and it is daunting.
We were very lucky in that we had the National Resource Centre (NRC) as the core to our national support and brand, along with driving our software development. Efficiently run by Todd and Lasse this was a licensee arrangement that also represented FilePro in WA.
Todd has been with the company for 20 years and as Lasse, my other ‘son’, reminded me the other day, he has been with us for 16 years. A great team with tremendous support staff and developers.
This for us was the key. We knew that the only way to ensure continuity for our software, our clients and in management was to somehow merge these two operations.
We worked very hard on this and on January 1st 2017 we effectively brought these two separate entities together.
Giving up Control
As an exponent of autocratic management, I guess for me, that this has been the hardest part of the journey. It is challenging to give up 30 years of making the decisions.
It is not just the company, but all of the other demons of getting older, “What do I do if not working for the FilePro “mistress” for 70 hours a week?” etc. etc.
That is why, if you are considering this journey, you need help and good advice and I have been very lucky to have Linda and Stella at my side throughout this process.
Todd & Lasse have also made the transition extremely smooth; I have watched them grow over the last three years, embracing and continuing our culture of fairness to all.
In addition to the normal challenges of merger and growth, through this period, we have experienced some very tragic and saddening events within our team. Combined with our re-write programme across two platforms and the introduction of our “Unlimited Training” initiative, they have demonstrated to me their calm and considered management style, empathy and the desire to take FilePro into the next generation.
A Question of Timing
There was always the question of when, and our default date was 1st July 2020.
Despite my insecurity, over stepping back, it was with great relief that Todd showed me his newly minted business cards declaring that he was CEO.
I am ecstatic. Not only have I been working on my new found freedom, but I am confident that this transition represents the best outcome, moving forward, for our clients, our shareholders and our dedicated and accomplished staff.
If anyone would like to discuss the challenges of succession please feel free to call me, I am very happy to share my experience. It has been a very different but rewarding journey.