Otter Advisory, a year in, and the year ahead.

picture of sea otter holding paws to mouth.

Otter pondering

It was almost a year ago that I launched Otter Advisory. Leaving a 90,000 employee company to set up a firm of one has brought many surprises.

 Over the last year the response from the market  has been brilliant. The work I’ve done so far this year includes:

  • Mentoring a Chief Product Officer who is leading a services to product transformation.
  • Expert advice in acquisition/investment due diligence projects with Scottish Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus
  • Helping a US HCM vendor rethink and refine its globalization approach. 
  • Advisory board for a stealth start-up (I look forward to the reveal on this one in October).
  • Advising Unit4 on product strategy, and playing a key role in the acquisition of Intuo.
  • Advised a leading French multi-national and a German DAX 30 company on learning management selection and strategy.
  • Working with fast growing startups to help them scale product and go to market, for instance  Workpath (Johannes), Tandemploy (Anna and Jana) and Personio (Roman). Their innovation, energy and ambition is so infectious.
  • Advising an HCM vendor on a trade sale. 
  • In May I  joined the board of a NASDAQ listed company, Headhunter – Russia’s largest job-board / HRTECH company, as an Non-Executive Director.
  • Invested my own money  in Acadian Ventures, which focuses on early stage HRTECH / WORKTECH opportunities. Jason Corsello is the GP.

I’m learning something new every day, and it is especially rewarding to distill my past experience to help others be more successful.

I’m in a privileged position in that I have a network of people that have been willing to share their advice: James Governor, Jacqui Sim, Tim Chamberlain, Jason Corsello, Mike Carden, Jonathan Benhamou, Paul Jozefak, Simon Bouchez, Maggie Fox, Dror Gurevich, Shakti Jauhar, Josh Greenbaum, Holger Müller, Naomi Bloom, Oliver Bussmann,  David Wilson, Emma Sinclair, Dennis Howlett, Thomas Gerstner, Annrai O’Toole, Mark Barlow, Anna Ott, Olga Selivanova, Guillaume Durao, Marc Coleman, Matthew Parker, Martin Braun and Charlotte Otter have all provided me with insights and encouragement.  I have forgotten a good few more. Frank Nickel has been remarkably patient in guiding me through German company law and taxation.

But I’m especially grateful to Mike Ettling. His generosity in introducing me to his contacts in Private Equity and Venture Capital really helped me get started, and opened my mind to working with the investor community. It is great to be advising him and his organization in his new role as CEO at Unit4. (see announcement here). 

To all my clients, you have made this first year more successful than my most whimsical assessment, and you have my deepest gratitude. I hope to continue working with you as the firm develops.

Looking forward to next year, I’m strengthening the team at Otter Advisory. I’ve appointed a business manager, and together, we are working on a plan to expand the business, more news to come soon. We’ll hopefully be adding new partners in the new year, as we increase the depth and breadth of coverage.

 I will aim for a more consistent blogging and posting effort too, the writing mojo is slowly returning after my academic marathon, and the website is ready for a refresh.

Next month I’ll be at Unleash in Paris, doing two talks, one based on my PhD research into accessibility, the other on how to improve the manager – HR TECH relationship as part of the adoption channel. If you are in town, it would be cool to meet at the event. Marc Coleman runs a great show.

Thanks again to all of you that have made this first year in business so much fun, and I look forward to many more.