Tips From Business Leaders: The Business Impact of a COO

Tips From Business Leaders: The Business Impact of a COO

Improving operating procedures to increase profits and efficiencies, implementing the strategies set by the Board of Directors/CEO/leader and directing the day-to-day operations of a business are all major components of a COO role. As the second highest ranking member of most organizations the Chief Operating Officer is one of the most important roles a business can have, and the benefits of having an elite COO can pay large dividends.

We set out to gather information on the roles and greatest benefits of some of Ottawa’s leading COOs. We interviewed 4 business leaders to get their perspective on the positive impact a COO can have. If you are currently involved or are planning an executive search for a COO, consider these comments to help you create your position profile for your organization.

Karen Sparks, Executive Director, Wesley Clover Parks

Photo by Ben Radvanyi Photography

Wesley Clover Parks’ COO is Tony Dunn. He’s worked on my team directly for 5 years, but for our group of companies for 18 years.

What is the most important role of your COO on your leadership team?

Tony is direct. As executive director, I often steer things in a general direction, Tony makes nothing “general” - he makes his requests very directly. You never have to wonder about what he is asking you to do. That works well for us. In fact, a lot of our leadership traits are different but complimentary. We work well together and that’s incredibly important. Our working relationship sets the standard for our whole organization.

What is the most valuable trait of your COO?

Loyalty. Tony has my back 100%, and I have his! Makes for a good working relationship when you know that about each other without a doubt.

What is the biggest impact your COO has had on your business?

Getting things done. He’s like the oil in our machine. Operationally your COO has to know the ins and outs of your business and make it tick no matter what.

Jeff Horne, Co-Founder & CEO, Wicket

Wicket’s Chief Operating Officer is Laura Mindorff and she has been a part of the Wicket team for 6 years.

What is the most important role of your COO on your leadership team?

Our COO is always concerned about people, culture, process, and cash. She brings the internal view of the organization to our leadership team, and has the pulse of the internal operations.

What is the most valuable trait of your COO?

At Wicket we're building a culture around a set of values we believe deeply in. Laura lives these values every day, is ready and willing to advocate for them, and to ensure we all live by them. In particular, Laura's willingness to promote radical candour - having the difficult conversations that need to be had - is what makes her an amazing leader.

What is the biggest impact your COO has had on your business?

Before Laura came on board as our COO, no one "owned" the internal operations of the business. It was a "best effort" mindset around anything that related HR, process, culture, and financial management. With Laura as our COO, the leadership team knows and trusts that the internal operations are being constantly monitored, evaluated, and new processes and policies are being developed as we evolve.

James Baker, Co-Founder & CEO, Keynote Search

Keynote Search's COO is Brad Ezard. He has been with us for 6 months and joined our team following a successful career as an M&A lawyer and in start-up operations.

What is the most important role of your COO on your leadership team?

Brad brings focus and clarity around the ideas and innovation that drives our business. He brings the discipline of process and systems to ensure the successful implementation and ongoing delivery of our projects.

What is the most valuable trait of your COO?

His ability to convert ideas to action. We are a young, evolving business and we manage complex talent issues for our clients, many of which don't have straightforward solutions. He consistently finds a way to take concepts, find the consensus and help our business and our team execute on our objectives.

What is the biggest impact your COO has had on your business?

Rhythm and focus; as a start-up we used to take strange pride in the organized chaos but we have now matured and found our core competencies we play to our strengths and every part of our business has a quick yet manageable rhythm. This has allowed us to balance fun with purpose and I for one am grateful that we get to build a business alongside such a professional, intelligent and driven COO.

Veronica Farmer, CEO, TrueCourse Communications

TrueCourse Communications' COO is Rachel Hancock. She has been with the company for 3 years.

What is the most important role of your COO on your leadership team?

In our fast-paced marketing agency, Rachel ensures the day-to-day operations run smoothly and efficiently. She monitors our internal processes, adjusting them as needed and implementing new collaboration tools to improve the team’s workflow and client experience. Rachel also appreciates my need, as CEO, to have periodic, high-level insight into the company - she presents monthly KPI reports and dashboard, and makes recommendations to maintain or improve company performance.

What is the most valuable trait of your COO?

Rachel is both COO and CFO at TrueCourse. I most value her business experience, analytical approach, and ability to manage, guide and align the finances, HR and internal operations of the company.

What is the biggest impact your COO has had on your business?

Since Rachel has assumed the COO/CFO role, the team’s workflow is more structured and streamlined and the financial management is more consistent and predictable. This allows me to focus my time on the company’s strategic direction, culture and growth.

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