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Ep. 038 – Pam Wasley’s interim executive model is changing how entrepreneurs and C levels executives work together


Pam Wasley Show Notes

Co-founder & CEO of Cerius Executives and Cerius Advisors, Pam Wasley is a serial entrepreneur with multiple decades of knowledge and experience. She has personally sold companies, led a management buyout, and advised hundreds of companies on strategies for growth and higher shareholder value. Pam has served on several private boards and is a highly sought after speaker. She has been featured in prestigious publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fortune, and Bloomberg Business-week on the topics of mergers and acquisitions, the workforce of the future, and global contingent workforces.

Most passionate about

  • I’m the CEO of Cerius Executives, which is a firm that places part time and interim executives around the world. I started this company in 2005 and my passion is to get as many executives out into these companies around the world. These companies don’t have to hire full time executives; there are a lot of complications, it’s very expensive, and there are a lot of labor laws, however you can have these executives on a part time, interim basis and I get the most experienced executives for a reasonable price.
  • I was one of 7 co-founders. We started it as a consulting firm, but consulting wasn’t appreciated back then and there was a lot of competition. I started looking around for different models and I found this model of interim executives in one company in Europe, and I have to admit, I stole it… and there was only one company in the US that used this model, and they only provided executives in the financial space.
  • The idea is that the company gets a very experienced executive that actually has done the things the company is looking for, like acquisitions and mergers, selling companies, raising funds, marketing, sales, operations, etc. and they are capable […] of fast results. 
  • The executives love this type of work; they get to choose the company they work with, the kind of work, and when they work, so for many executives that decided to go on their own, it’s a perfect match.
  • In the past, executives that worked this way were considered to be those who probably can’t find serious full time jobs. Today, there is a huge demand for these people, they have the skill sets that companies usually can’t find and definitely not within a reasonable budget.

Pam’s Career

  • It’s funny because I don’t have an industry… I started a retail store in women’s fashion right after collage, and then I switched to medical software, then to telecommunications, and this fourth company is a services company. Being an entrepreneur, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t have anyone to guide me, my mentor was my dad, and he died in an early stage. I made some terrible mistakes and had to backup and start again. I managed to find my way, and had some very successful companies, but what I love about this current company and what I’m passionate about is helping entrepreneurs so they won’t make the same mistakes that I did.

Pam’s customers

  • Actually, we have two types of clients. The first are the companies that hire us; they are usually small to medium sized companies privately or family owned, it can vary from a startup to a well established company selling 600 million dollars a year. 20% of our companies are the $1 billion companies that find us through Google.
  • The second type of clients are the executives, these talents are hard to find, so once we get them, we don’t want to lose them again. We want them to be available to us so we treat them very well. We make sure they get paid right away; we try to be very available and responsive to them and to keep tight connections with them.

Pam’s best advice about approaching the customers

  • Focus on the customers you already have. It’s easy to retain and get more money from existing clients, because if you know how to keep them as customers; they will stay and buy over and over again. But of course you must keep them, otherwise you have to sell them all over again.
  • You have to not only go after new clients, but also don’t forget about the ones you already have. Entrepreneurs tend to think that if he is a client, they will stick with us. No, they won’t, because the competition today is so big and there are companies out there that will do what’s needed to get and keep those customers if you won’t do it.

Biggest failure with a customer

  • As an entrepreneur I made exactly the mistake I just told you not to make. I focused too much on sales and forgot the customers I just sold to. In the communication company, we were growing so rapidly and we succeeded in so much, we felt we don’t have time to take care of the customers and we did nothing to sustain them.
  • We were selling so much, but we didn’t grow and didn’t understand why. Only when we started to look for the leakage did we find out that as fast those customers came, they left, and we didn’t do anything to keep them. We were so excited we grew so fast – $20 million dollars in one year – and nobody focused on these customers so they were leaking out.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach

  • It’s actually happening with this company! In the beginning of this company, we had a lot of challenges, not only to get clients but to educate them. In 2011, there were some shifts in the industry, companies started to use more and more temporary executives. We started to learn what happened with the executives and then understood we should work with our executives, and we started to really pay attention to the executives. And today in 2017, the company has a great reputation! We get a lot of referrals, both from our existing executives and from our clients. We also get around 200 requests per month from new executives that want to join our organization and out of these 200 we would usually take 10 to 20 people, and sometimes not even one. Because we must make sure we only work with the best executives, our clients expect immediate results and our executives must deliver it. We must put only 1st tier C levels in front of our clients.

Recommendation of tools for customer focus, marketing, or sales

  • I can’t give a specific tool, but I will recommend what kind of tools entrepreneurs need. The most important tool every entrepreneur should use is a tool for managing your digital marketing. You shouldn’t give up digital marketing, but you should test all the reliever tools over and over. We get hundreds of leads coming to us through testing digital marketing tools. In the past, I used to work with one tool that works, but sometimes there is another tool the gives much better results at the same time.
  • There is not one tool we work with today. One month we can have great results from LinkedIn, and then the next month we can get nothing. Those companies are changing their analytics all the time and you should never stop testing.
  • Data is the key to being successful today. You start check, test, and collect the data; as the more data you have, more successful you become.

Recommendation of a person, or a book, that impacts Pam’s “customer focus” and success

  • I’m a very big fan of the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. This book is all about exactly what I just talked about – start small and test all the time. Don’t spend a lot of money to build one big thing, start small, with a light, small version, test it, get results, and improve and change all the time.

What is your one key success factor?

  • A great team. We have a great executive team. If you have a solid team that works great together, you will find answers to everything else you need. On our team, everyone is really focused on how to make sure each of us will succeed with his part in the company. Even if ones department works well, he would go look who needs his help to make sure his colleague’s department would work well as well…

Pam’s Mountain

Since we believe that the best way for entrepreneurs to get a fast, big, and sustainable success is by leading your (new) market category, and the entire entrepreneurial journey reminds me of mountaineering, or conquering the mountain, so I want to ask you if there is a mountain you dream of climbing or a mountain you have already climbed?

  • Yes. But I want to mention two; the first one gave me my love of climbing mountains. It’s the Routeburn Track, New Zealand and when we got to the top, we were overlooking the Glaciers. It was magnificent and I felt so accomplished.
  • And one I really want to climb, I haven’t been there yet; it’s the Machu-Picchu in Peru. I heard so much about it and I want to go there and master that mountain, it’s my dream!
the Routeburn track New Zealand - Pams Mountain

The Routeburn Track – New Zealand | Credit: Phil Whitehouse, Flickr

The Machu-Picchu in Peru is the mountain Pam is dreaming to climb in the future

How to connect with Pam

Pam’s special link for Reach or Miss listeners takes you to a page where there are a ton of giveaways. We give away books and videos; anything needed to run a business today: GetCerius

Pam’s social Media Links:

Recommended book:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Gavin Zuchlinski – Handled Acuity Scheduling as a side project for 7 years and managed to beat the big startups with millions in funding.


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