What does it mean to lead a team in a way that promotes a “we” culture as opposed to a an “I” culture? We take a look at Fleur Hicks, CEO of onefourzero, to see how a kind approach of integrity has brought her success. Named by CEO Monthly as CEO of the Year, 2021 – London, the United Kingdom, we thought it time to catch up with her and see what has led to her incredible success.
onefourzero delivers data-led M&A consulting, market performance monitoring and value creation for Private Equity and investment-backed businesses across the globe, and under the leadership of Fleur Hicks has thrived. Her team has become renowned for their market-leading insights and strategy, which helps businesses to make informed investment and operational decisions.
With six years at a CEO level under her belt, the ideas that have formed the heart of her leadership style have only recently become clear to her. “I hadn’t really thought about leadership style beyond the abstract notions of ‘leader vs bully’ until I started creating culture documents for my own companies,” she told us. “But having asked clients, staff and NEDs, I can now summarise that my leadership style is objectively referred to as governed by kindness, empathy, collaboration and integrity. I don’t believe in the ‘I’ culture in any business and very much promote a ‘we’ culture.”
This collaborative approach to business has allowed Fleur to achieve many things that might not otherwise have been possible. “I wouldn’t be a good leader if I didn’t feel comfortable hiring talent whom are I’m sure a lot better than me at many things,” she explains, “and in that respect I expect people to act kindly to those around them. With these ethics in mind, the vision of excellence I have can be delivered.”
Fleur’s vision of excellence flows through every aspect of onefourzero, and allows her team to go far beyond what other companies provide. onefourzero offers clients a tech-enabled range of products for assistance with M&A Advisory, Asset Monitoring and Value Creation, but what sets it apart is a platform that enables them to gather data sets from myriad sources into a central database. The use of AI to transform this data into a useable form for analysts saves time while offering a reliably consistent way forward. In short, onefourzero takes a big data approach to M&A which saves clients time and money.
The challenge of introducing this approach to the Private Equity world has been another challenge that Fleur has had to overcome. “Investors have struggled to see how this data is equally applicable to B2B, health, education, business services, pharma and even industrials in some cases!” she laughs. “It’s a surprise given how closely parallel their world is with Hedge Funds who drink this kind of data for breakfast.” Needless to say, the shift of direction was one which was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With investors forced online, the use of the tech-enabled digital data sets that onefourzero specialised in came to the fore.
Fleur’s approach to business and to the world of M&A has had a transformative effect on both. The team used to be lone players, but now there are competitors springing up all over the place. Fleur is not disappointed, however, being thrilled by the challenge: “We should be flattered – we innovated and we created a market. Thankfully we continue to lead the market and are six years ahead of the competition.” While the competition try to catch up, onefourzero has just opened an office in Boston and is continuing to ensure that its platform meets the needs of clients both in the UK and in the USA.
What is clear is that Fleur is that her leadership is never static. It breaks barriers. We asked what she would like to do, moving forward. “I want to lend my experience to other people and help their businesses grow,” she explained. “There’s nothing like the joy of witnessing success, especially if it’s undertaken ethically.” We look forward to seeing what she does next.
For further information, please visit https://onefourzerogroup.com/