A C-level technology executive, consultant and change agent Michael J. O’Hara’s career has spanned businesses from startup to billion dollar brands. He understands the micro and the macro, the goal and the journey. He’s a reassuring presence on any board. So we thought you might like to get to know him better…
What did you do before gigCMO?
People describe me as a serial CEO or a turnaround guy. I have been CEO, COO or CMO of a number of high-tech, mar-tech, news, education and healthcare focused companies. I’ve raised a good deal of venture capital and private equity for those companies. Also, I have participated in numerous mergers and acquisitions as well.
What are your specialist skills?
What I do often breaks down into two categories. Firstly there are the companies and executives that are in need of help and perhaps a turnaround. Many of these companies are struggling and may be in need of an infusion of capital. Some need a complete financial re-engineering and/or an organizational re-design.
Secondly there are companies who are challenged with scaling their sales and operations. These companies are often challenged with their human capital and business model. Many of these have had previous success. However, they seem to have hit a ceiling and can’t grow without some reengineering.
How do you help companies?
As a gig consultant I frequently help these companies with:
- Capital development, which includes crafting a new or revised business plan. It also includes building their fundraising deck and support materials. Then building and coaching their ‘pitch’.
- Marketing, positioning, lead-generation and nurturing. That includes SEO and SEM Identification of necessary team assets. It also includes organizational design; recruitment, training and mentoring.
- Compensation plans and variable comp design.
- M&A (mergers and acquisition).
- CEO and sales coaching.
I traditionally do an audit of a company’s business plan, marketing, sales, organizational structure, comp plans and financial resources. Then I try to do a deep dive of their culture, their team, their sales and marketing. I ask whether all these tools and resources are being maximized. Are they complimentary and contributing to the greater good of the company?
I look at whether the team are all marching to the same beat. Whether the organization and its marketing effort are contributing to the sales and margin goals. It is critical that everyone is on the same script and that there is absolutely no ambiguity.
Finally, I look at whether the sales effort is aligned and spot on. Is there any ambiguity in the way the sales team is being paid with the goals of the company? Are the sales support functions in-line with the sales efforts?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Firstly, I love working with people. I absolutely thrive on working with teams, coaching them and the ability to transform the way that they get things done. I also really enjoy getting in the weeds of marketing and sales. Really looking at how things are being done and whether they could be done better to achieve the company objectives.
What does a gig approach bring to marketing leadership?
A gig approach can be ideal for many companies. Companies often benefit from a senior level of fractional talent and the ancillary resources that they wouldn’t normally be able to afford if fully loaded, full time. Using a fractional approach, these companies can get senior talent and a high level of experience that helps them manage the team that they currently have in place. It’s all at a fraction of the total compensation.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a variety of projects including fractional CMO and CFO work for a company in the UK. It is expanding globally and needs institutional capital for scaling its growth. I’m also engaged as a fractional CMO for a digital security company. That has needs in lead development; lead nurturing, content, SEO and SEM. I’ve recently wrapped up a fractional COO role for a healthcare marketing company that targets physicians for the pharmaceutical industry. This included comprehensive marketing and strategic planning as well as variable comp plans for the entire team. I also advise/mentor a number of CEOs on their finances, business culture, sales and marketing strategies.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to sail and fuss with with my old sailboat. One of my favorite lines is from the book, The Wind in the Willows: ‘there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing… about in boats – or with boats. In or out of ‘em, it doesn’t matter’ .
What is the most recent book you have read that you would recommend?
After several years of procrastinating (and after receiving the book as a gift), I reluctantly started to read the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. I say reluctantly, because while I am a big fan of what Job’s accomplished, I never thought him to be a very good human being. Having said that, I was wrong. The book is beautifully written and an enormous insight into the psyche of Jobs, how he thinks and what the impact was on the world. I highly recommend the book.
Tell us one thing that most people don’t know about you…
I am passionate about all things food and I love to cook. After trying something new in a restaurant, I like to try to deconstruct and re-create the dish. Of late, I am particularly into experimenting with Sous Vide cooking and fermenting veggies.