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BLOG | Leaders Respond: Why We Became Fractional Executives?

In this ever-changing and evolving world, traditional career paths are no longer the only option for professionals seeking constant growth and development. Experienced leaders have begun to explore alternatives that allow them to leverage their knowledge and expertise to make impactful changes in not one, but multiple organizations by becoming fractional executives.

At Your Cohort, we are privileged to have female fractional leaders who decided their skills would not stay within a single company. Ilbret Andrade, Lisa Scotto, Anne Bibb, Lilly Yeatman, and Erika Duncan share their professional journey and motivations for becoming fractional leaders.

What inspired you to transition into a fractional C-suite role?

A fractional C-suite role brings the opportunity to have a broader impact across multiple organizations rather than being limited to a single company. This is what pushed Ilbret Andrade, Fractional Chief Financial Officer, to start this transition. She sought “the opportunity to contribute the breadth of experience to have a higher impact across multiple organizations.”

Lilly Yeatman, Fractional Chief Marketing Officer, says she didn’t want to limit herself to working with just one organization. “The ability to learn new things from different companies, working with different leaders is energizing, and it’s circular - you get out of it what you put into it. I love making an impact and working across industries in different capacities.”

What skills or experiences from your previous career have proven most valuable in your new role?

Anne Bibb, Fractional Chief Executive Officer, states that her experience in global teams and building customer-centric strategies has proven invaluable in her fractional roles. “Being both a specialist and generalist has also provided a unique lens to understand different perspectives. This diverse background enables me to align strategies across various industries and organizational cultures”.

Erika Duncan, Chief People Officer, says her expertise was the perfect recipe for honing her business skills. She affirms her previous career gave her “the ability to grasp complex business dynamics swiftly, make informed decisions under pressure, navigate ambiguity, and effectively communicate with stakeholders.”

What challenges have you encountered while working as a fractional C-suite executive, and how have you overcome them?

Not being a full-time member of the organization could make building relationships with key stakeholders and employees difficult.

According to Anne, the biggest challenge has been aligning with various cultures and goals. “Through transparent communication and flexibility, and by utilizing tailor-made strategies for each company, I have managed to overcome these challenges. Leveraging technology also aids in ensuring seamless integration and alignment with each organization's unique needs.”

Lisa Scotto, Fractional Chief Revenue Officer, declares that streaking the right balance between business development and doing great work on behalf of clients is a must. “You may know the term ABC (Always be Closing), but with fractional work, I would tweak this to be ABN (Always be Networking). Business can come from other fractionals”.

How do you build and maintain strong relationships with the various teams and organizations you work with?

Building solid relationships with teams and organizations is essential for success as a fractional executive. Lisa explains that the major element to achieve this is through effective communication. “I learned early on that ‘overcommunicating’ is how to develop strong relationships. Since fractionals are not full-time employees, ensuring communication is a two-way street is very important. Peppering in questions and feedback loops to a fractional engagement is the key to success.”

As stated by Lilly, dedicating time to deeply understanding people is vital. “I get to know them, I spend time understanding what their day-to-day looks like, their challenges, how I can help them, and what they need from me and marketing. Relationships are all about connecting as people, and that’s my favorite part of this”.

How have you identified your audience and ensured your services speak to them?

For Anne, networking has been the golden key. “Most of my clients have contacted me through referrals, networking, and word of mouth. My performance, how I handle my clients, and the meaningful results I deliver have created a reputation that draws businesses to seek my expertise. Rather than identifying my audience, they identify me, recognizing the value I can bring to their organizations.”

Ilbret says she looks for organizations to which she knows she will be able to add value. “Coming from fast-paced, scaling, and lean start-up organizations, my passion lies here. I strive to find similar organizations as my experience will have the most impactful value.”

What advice do you have for others considering a career transition into the fractional C-suite space?

Lilly Yeatman recommends identifying what values you will add to the company and what type of companies you want to work with. “Start talking to people at these places to understand better what opportunities look like. Plant seeds, learn, and ask questions. Take time to connect with people and know how you can help them with no strings attached now.

On the other hand, Erika Duncan proposes trying to land a fractional gig before deciding to go all in. “My biggest suggestion is to try before you buy. There are a lot of other responsibilities to consider - business development, administration, contracting, accounting, and ensuring you get paid. Do you like the full gamut of what being fractional means? Getting a few gigs before deciding will help you best understand a true sense of what it is like.”

If you want to dig deep into how the perspective of a fractional leader can mark a before and after in the development of your company, at Your Cohort, we are ready to support you. Reach out here.

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