Please join us in welcoming the newest Exit Consulting Group team member, Andrea Steinbrenner. After guiding ECG through its 2020 business planning as a consultant, and then quickly helping to reshape that plan in response to COVID-19, Andrea accepted the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) on July 1, 2020.
Having served at all levels of a high-growth business, Andrea knows corporate operations and consulting from the ground up. For over a decade, Andrea worked directly with mid-size companies, being instrumental in building scale and supporting exponential growth. For the last year, she has been running her own consulting company, Canopy Consulting. With an EMBA from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis, a wealth of cross-industry and entrepreneurial experience, and the proven ability to understand the big picture of running a business, Andrea’s mission is to continue to lead through service and support ECG as it continues to grow.
Get to know Andrea in this brief chat about business, her background, and her new position at ECG.
What does your role as COO entail?
I’m here to help, empower, and align people. I have always said that people are my passion, and now I get to bring that to an organization that takes the same people-focused approach to business. I am driven by collaborating with others to find the win, and through my experience, I have learned that doing so with a team around you is the best way to get there. Our focus is to continue to grow while maintaining our top level of service and to keep having fun along the way!
How do you view operations as a business function of a company?
I think of a company like a rainforest; I actually named my consulting company, “Canopy,” based on that philosophy. It’s an entire ecosystem of metaphors on which I’ve always wanted to write a book.
The idea is that leadership typically lives above the canopy layer; it’s bright, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining. Occasionally, they have to go into the forest to address an issue, but, for the most part, they’re getting the treetop view of their business. When you go below the canopy, you have all of these layers and relationships that aren’t always foreseen, and certainly aren’t simple. The forest itself is thick and sometimes sticky. Businesses need those with a “treetop view,” but also someone who understands what it is like to be on the forest floor, and how to service there.
The ultimate is when you have team members that communicate with each other at every level and connect the layers. That person is your operations person, whatever their title may be. I’ve been able to be that person, swinging through the vines, connecting people, connecting dots, and unifying organizations to help them grow and thrive. I like to think of highly effective operational team members as the “Tarzans” of the organization.
What is one thing business owners might not realize about operations?
It’s not just about oversight; it’s also about matching vision with execution. Again, you need someone to understand every layer of your company, from the daily tasks to the strategic planning. Frequently, leaders know what they want for the company, but they don’t necessarily see the input required to get there. If you don’t have someone to communicate both of those pieces effectively, the goals are amiss. It starts with understanding what type of organization you are and then working through the rainforest accordingly.
What makes an entrepreneur successful?
In my experience, I see that the entrepreneurs who put the right leadership personnel around them are the ones who really tend to excel. This is because they then get to focus on being entrepreneurs instead of trying to toggle entrepreneurship, management, and leadership (all different roles). Innovative, driven, forward-thinking people are not always the ones who are best suited to be in the command center, making sure the troops are okay. You can only be so successful on your own. Frankly, it’s a lot more enjoyable with others around, especially those who contribute to the success.
Why is ECG the right fit for you?
What motivates me is the opportunity to impact others. ECG takes a unique, personalized approach to helping owners identify and achieve their win. Enabling entrepreneurs to enjoy the fruits of their labor rather than grinding through the same labor for life is an inspiring mission. It is also a perfect fit in terms of identity and personality. We have a lot of synergy and similarities, and we see an opportunity to do something special together.
Welcome aboard, Andrea, and thank you for sharing your insights!
Readers, you will be hearing much more from Andrea in future articles on operations, leadership, business relationships, and other pertinent topics.