Ian Smith

Ian Smith

978-395-1155   Ian@TPPBoston.com

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2009 and over the last ten years, Ian and his team have scaled over a dozen New England based businesses, many with overseas offices in Europe and Asia. Several of these businesses have exited in the last 12 months at premium values. TPP is staffed with successful C-suite executives with deep operational and M&A expertise in both private and public companies.

Ian’s career prior to 2001 was in London where his previous credits included senior roles within public companies, Thomson (now Thomson Reuters) and Capita, and over 12 years in investment banking, creating one of the first European investment banks specializing in mid-market clients. Since moving to Boston he has been CEO of an IBM business partner software group before forming The Portfolio Partnership. He graduated from the University of Strathclyde and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. Ian holds both US and UK citizenship. A family man, his biggest achievement to date – 32 years happily married to Shona and being a dad to his two talented daughters Emily and Megan.
His hobbies include business writing (seven books and 500 blog posts) and competitive masters track & field where he has maintained a top 20 world ranking at 400m and 800m over the last 12 years.

Fractional Senior Management

Over the last 10 years, I’ve built The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) on the basis of a simple value proposition. The leadership of private companies requires experienced help at an affordable price to fulfill their potential. What they didn’t need was another report from a consultant. What they often can’t afford is a fully loaded senior person with a narrow skillset. They needed a senior, talented executive with broad proven skills that could do stuff. They needed someone who had been there before as a business owner/manager, made many mistakes but emerged with a successful track record.

The next stage for these leaders varied of course from case to case. The software company requiring infrastructure to support the runaway sales line. The capital equipment company with no marketing strategy. The HR consultancy that lacked operational protocols. The technology company too reliant on the owner. The private company with capacity and money to do acquisitions but no protocols or processes to align their efforts. The travel business locked into their low margins that was delivering a world-class service. These are all real examples from the last 10 years representing companies who were struggling in their own way to scale.
Hiring a new CEO, CMO, CFO or any new senior manager is expensive and risky.

What is Fractional Senior Management?

It’s a bridge to enable scaling. It’s a way of getting to the next level in say 12 to 24 months, where it’s possible to justify one or more full time executives to join the team. Fractional Senior Management is not interim management, it’s not short-term consultancy project work, nor is it career counseling and mentoring (although mentoring is a by-product). You identify one or more gaps in the senior team that’s preventing the execution of a strategic plan. It’s a senior person deployed one to two days a week to fill that gap for at least 12 months at a significantly lower cost of a fully-loaded full-time executive or executives. Examples range from COO, CFO, CMO, Sales Director, VP Corporate Development, Sales Operations, Communications Director, HR Director to in-house lawyer.

Objections and Responses

Senior management will feel threatened by the outsider.
The Fractional Senior Manager is there to enable full-time staff to be remarkable, to transform their bandwidth and to create a culture of success.
Consultants can never have the authority and respect to achieve operational change.
The CEO must sell the Fractional Leader into the team. All initiatives have the CEO’s blessing. Once these start and people see the impact that is happening, initial objections tend to fade away.
He doesn’t understand our business.
The value proposition isn’t domain expertise! But of course, the economics of all businesses ultimately comes down to volume and yield, no matter how complex the technology. The models we’ve built at TPP have been battled tested in almost every industry you can imagine, and we know how to deploy them with the support of a talented management team.

In What Size of Company Does it Work Best?

Here is a strange fact, the US Small Business Administration defines small as 499 employees or less. Out of 5.9 million US companies that run a payroll, only just under 19,000 are considered big with 500 employees or more. No wonder we just focus on New England. The world is dominated in every county by small companies. We’ve had great success from 20 to 1000 employee companies.

Our Team

Our bench consists of Fractional Senior Leaders with impressive careers who have ran significant businesses and specialists who led world-class functions covering marketing, branding, PR, finance, operations, and HR. Many of our team have deep M&A experience including operational integration.


Put it this way, for the cost of a top graduate on the payroll you could have a successful senior manager driving change in your business every week of the year.

Sound Interesting?

Email to set up a no obligations confidential chat – Ian@TPPBoston.com