In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky sits down with Leor Franks, Business Development & Marketing Director at Kingsley Napley.
Leor takes us on the journey of his illustrious 20-year career that combines his love for journalism and building high-performing teams.
Despite building a distinguished career, Leor openly shares his wins and struggles with Imposter Syndrome.
Leor is a sought-after speaker and thought leader within professional services Business Development and Marketing.
Key takeaways from this episode with Leor Franks:
The pros and cons of fast-tracking your career
Tips for leveraging relationships outside of your company to gain a fresh viewpoint
How to effectively lead while managing Imposter Syndrome
How to build teams with a synergy that leads to long-term business success
Leor began his career in recruitment:
Leor aspired to become a journalist, but after leaving University, he found the job market tough, so spent a few months working at a recruitment firm while he looked for a journalism role.
He was then presented with the opportunity to join a start-up magazine for a professional services B2B journal, where he learnt about the industry and worked his way up to Editor.
He quickly came to the conclusion that "if I was going to write about business, I should actually know something about business." This led him to pursue a Masters Degree In Business.
It was during this time that Leor discovered the world of Professional Services, particularly Consulting, during the height of the dot com boom. Later, he was recruited by a leading professional services brand and then moved to Ernst and Young.
Leor realised that what he enjoyed most was writing and being creative, so he began to look for a role where he could combine his interest in this with his financial training.
Leor found his dream job in Professional Services
In 2004, Leor joined Deloitte as a Marketing Manager. He discovered he enjoyed the intellectual challenges of working with people in professional services and the opportunity to learn from those subject matter experts.
The Competitive Edge:
After working at Deloitte for several years, Leor had the opportunity to work closely with one of their clients, the CEO of a Fortune 100 company, writing speeches, analysing materials. Through this experience, Leor gained a real insight into the thoughts, processes and challenges that C-suite Executives face. This provided him with an external perspective into how clients think, in particular, how decision-makers think about Professional Services.
This insight enabled Leor to add value to his role and helped to fast-track his career into a Director role, leading a team of three Senior Managers. During this time, Leor struggled with imposter syndrome and finding his way amongst his more experienced colleagues.
Faced with the challenges of this new position, managing an experienced team, Leor spent a lot of time understanding his team members, many of whom were more experienced than him.
Adopting the facilitator management style, Leor was able to leverage his team's talents in the most effective ways. He sought out the support and advice of other Marketing Directors in the Business which helped him navigate this new role effectively.
Using challenges as a stepping stone:
The ability to build high performing teams paid off and led Leor to one of his most significant career accomplishments. Leor was brought in after FTI acquired seven other independent companies under its banner, His mission was to reconstruct the BD and Marketing function. His first task was to understand the needs of the market and match this to the team's capability. He realised there was a huge gap and this led him to recruit 19 people into the team.
Finding the right people and building an energetic, collaborative culture with good processes was key to the success of the team. 15 of the people Leor recruited still work with the business today.
3 steps to building a cohesive team:
Leor admits that it was a challenge to get so many new recruits working well together
Clarifying the needs of the business and the market, having clear goals and strategies in place.
Aligning the right people with the right motivations - allowing people to work to their key strengths whilst also having stretch goals so that they could learn and develop.
Align the team to what the business wanted and needed so the team were able to clearly demonstrate their value to the firm.
An unexpected opportunity
Whilst at FTI Consulting, Leor was offered the opportunity to take on a fee earning engagement with a client, Augusta Ventures. Leor became an interim CMO and was given a project to hire a CMO but ended up being offered the role himself. This role involved building a team from scratch, building a brand from limited recognition to something substantial and build the company's profile to the market-leading organisation it is today.
Whilst working in this role, Leor had to become very hands on, updating the website and social media posts himself, tasks he hadn't done for years previously. Leor found this experience helpful in staying up to date with the latest technologies and processes and it proved beneficial when helping and training the team.
Leor later joined Kingsley Napely, largely attracted by the company's culture. He gained buy-in for a full reband within his first 6 months in the role. He spent a lot of time listening to clients and Partners and this allowed him to form a view of the brand that really resonated.
Leor has had many career highlights and has worked with several outstanding marketers. The CMO at Ernst & Young had a big impact on Leor, and he encouraged him to "Learn the business, understand the market but don't be afraid to take risks."
Whilst at Ernst & Young, one of the biggest projects he led was the corporate magazine, Capital Insights, which addressed CFOs in large companies. It was physically and electronically distributed to the Financial Times and reached 300,000 of their target market each quarter. In the first 6 months of being live, this attracted 56,000 visits to the company's microsite.
Another highlight is his work with 'The World Economic Forum' producing content for Partners and bringing high-level decision-makers together through client events at Davos.
How Leor bridges the gap between Accounting and Law:
Pivoting from Consulting to the Legal world was a challenge as the culture can be quite different. Leor explains that one of the challenges of going into a new industry at CMO level is the expectation that you can provide strategic advice from day one,
Leor credits the relationships he built through, for example, The Managing Partners Forum, as his secret weapon to fill the gaps in his knowledge. He has spent a great deal of time building a professional support network, developing relationships and offering support to others so now has a network he can lean on to ask for input and advice
Leor's thoughts on the future of Marketing and Business Development:
The pandemic forced firms to use online marketing and communication channels that they may not have previously focused on in their marketing mix. With so many firms embracing digital media, many did not take the time to differentiate themselves.
Most firms are now saturating the market with hybrid events and webinars.
How to cut through the noise:
It is hard to stand out if you run a firm and offer events through the same channels as your competitors. Leor suggests picking a unique point of view through presenting unique data, case studies, or using the halo effect of speakers. Find a way of cutting through the noise.
Leor's career advice:
Be patient. Don't be in a rush to get to the next step. It takes time to learn and develop. Progression comes when you have the right skills, knowledge and opportunities. A year feels a long time in your 20s but not in your 40s.
Focus on learning. Wherever you are in your career, invest time and effort in your learning and development. Look outside your firm for inspiration and to learn other ways of doing things. Courses, networking and listening to podcasts can all help.
Key quotes from the podcast:
"Build a network and do not be afraid to ask for input and advice from others and always be willing to reciprocate that"
"Be patient, recognize that it takes time to learn and develop, and progression comes when you have the right skills and the right knowledge and obviously the right opportunities"
"Work with a focus on learning."
"Wherever you are in your career invest time and effort and, if you can, money, in learning and developing."
"It's hard to learn and develop if you aren't looking at the wider world, look outside ["your organisation"]
About Leor Franks
Leor Franks has over 20 years' professional services experience, 13 in leadership roles at Director and Board level. He has held roles as Chief Marketing Officer - Director of Business Development, Communications and Marketing for law, accounting, and consulting firms.
Leor has recruited, built and led award-winning international teams of up to 50 at both mature multinationals, and growth businesses with challenger brands:
He has expertise across: law firms / legal services; management consulting / accounting firms; financial services; and technology services.
Leor is the author of The Favourability Journey® and has had articles on BD and marcoms published in legal, accounting, and marketing industry press.
He is a regular speaker, moderator, and chair at industry conferences and webinars on law firm, consulting and B2B services marketing and business development. Past appearances include for International Bar Association, The Lawyer, B2B Marketing, Marketing Week, CMO Inspired, CMO Conference, CMO Club, Ortus, and Passle.
About the host
Nicky Acuna Ocana has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Managing Director of Ambition UK, she currently leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.
If you're a Leader with Ambition from a professional services firm and would like to feature as a guest in a future podcast, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.