Sam Smith introduces the Female Leaders Series Autumn 2019

Sep 03, 2019 / Ambition Nation Media

On 17 September 2019, we convene for our Ambition Nation: Female Leaders Series

Register here 

This edition of our popular event is entitled 'The CEO: On a Role'. Here, finnCap CEO Sam Smith introduces the Female Leaders Series with a snapshot of life as the CEO of a growth business. 

Sam Smith:

"There are, in effect, two sides to what makes a decision for a CEO – the pragmatic and the emotional. Decisions are always made not just for the prosperity of the business, but also your personal drive as the leader. Any decision I make serves the business, but it also needs to excite me as a CEO. Otherwise, why am I doing it, if not to fulfil my big vision?

Let me give you an example.

In 2018, the goal was to take finnCap to 10% market share. Seems ambitious enough, right? Well, no, that wasn’t exciting enough for me. I didn’t just want something bigger, I felt the business needed something bigger. I could clearly see that we needed to take a bit of risk, we needed to implant ourselves into other markets. Expanding our market share was to tame for the vision I have. And at that, there was only one thing for it – an acquisition.

As it turned out, along with the acquisition, finnCap had to undergo an IPO. I must admit I wasn’t quite ready for this, personally. But it didn’t take long to realise that this is what we needed to energise the entire business, by giving the staff a value to their shares, and to really set us firmly on our journey to become a £100million turnover business.

Now that, to me, is exciting.

It can be a weird thing when you’re head of a company. As a CEO you have to make decisions daily, of course, but then there are those pivotal decisions – the ones that really drive you forward as an individual and as a company – and all I can say is they mostly come from a gut feeling. Confidence to follow your instinct is something you develop and I don’t think even I’ve mastered it yet! Sometimes I get that feeling of ‘I have to do something; this is not quite working’ and often I’m not even sure what that ‘something’ is.

At this point, I look at my options. What can I do? What choice do I have in front of me and what will have the biggest impact for the business?

As a CEO you have to back yourself and your decisions and know that they won’t come to fruition overnight, but you have to keep belief. What we do, no matter how difficult, or what I’m about to personally put myself through, I know inherently it’s the right thing for the business to get to the next stage of growth.

Now, reaching a decision as CEO is another matter. And on this point, my first instinct is to speak to as many people as possible. My company board, my networks, the communities I’m part of, or ask trusted coaches and mentors (some of whom happen to be on my board, for this exact reason)."

This is why we hold our Ambition Nation: Female Leaders Series – to provide our ambitious female entrepreneurs with the network, support, community and tools to make those decisions that untap this gold mine of economic growth. At our last Female Leaders event, Brenda Trenowden CBE, Global Chair of the 30% Club said that supporting and enabling our female CEOs and business leaders isn’t just a moral obligation, it is a drive for diversity of thought – for better business outcomes. That’s what this is all about.

I’m delighted once again to be able to welcome an array of this country’s strongest female leaders to share their insights and journeys as CEOs – how they made pivotal decisions that took them to the top of their game – when we meet on 17 September."