Entrepreneur and CEO confidant at Xinfu and The World of CEOs.
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Hugh was a strategy consultant before finding his current occupation as business leadership confidant at Xinfu. They work as confidants and advisors for FTSE 100 CEOs around the world. Read below for Hugh's account of how he gets to combine entrepreneurship with advisory work.
I’m a business leadership confidant at Xinfu and I think I may have the best 'professional services' job in the world.
At Xinfu we are the world's first global CEO confidants. We’ve just had our second birthday and today we’re working with about a dozen of the best CEOs and boards in the world – all of them at least FTSE100 scale.
The core team of us that set up Xinfu had each worked across all manner of consulting firms in our careers (e.g. Strategy, Big 4, Corporate Venturing, Private Equity, Coaching, Headhunting, Business Performance).
We’d enjoyed them all, learnt a huge amount and done some great projects. But we had a feeling the projects weren’t consistently helping our clients really transform their businesses.
So Steve and I wrote a book with a friend called The Secrets of CEOs, in which we asked 200 CEOs like Michael Dell, Terry Leahy and John Browne how they really led. And we also asked the CEOs what they really needed from a true professional advisor.
Xinfu was set up to provide the kind of business confidant the CEOs asked for. Where conventional advisors have a narrow focus, we address the whole CEO agenda (business performance & leadership, and personal performance & leadership). Today we are simply focused on making a shift in CEO, top team and company-wide performance by working the whole CEO agenda.
Which means today I’m privileged to have a phenomenal job:
At university I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Since university I’ve loved being an advisor. Xinfu means I get to do both now - and a lot sooner than I'd ever expected.
I was previously a strategy consultant and briefly a headhunter for CEOs, chairmen and non executive directors.
Listening to CEO after CEO tell us they needed a confidant and sparring partner. And realising that requires a team that no existing business could build for itself.
2 weekends and a leap of faith!
The best thing has been building a team of people I love spending time with and who throw themselves completely into building a business they really believe in.
The hardest thing: If you're going to start a business from scratch, my experience is - brace up for getting totally absorbed by it and losing sight of the rest of your life from time to time.
“Only work with people who really share your mission, who are totally committed to the team and who are always developing themselves.”
Our clients. They’ve funded the business. Doing events with them always lifts the team’s energy and they pick you up if you drop a ball.