Leadership, Learning & Legacies
“It’s hard to find people that you can rely on to get things done. Our CFO from ProCFO Partners definitely gets things done.”
When Baker Kearney’s grandfather Harry started his business H.M. Kearney Co. in 1958, it mostly operated as a trader for Japanese graphite electrodes into the foundry and steel industry. His father Keith took over in 1985 after founding his own company selling small diameter electrodes and specialty graphite for the US market. 25 years later Baker Kearney started GES Brazil with a similar business model. “I was 25 years old,” Kearney reflects. “I was fairly young, and fairly stupid.”
Such is how many successful entrepreneurs describe their early days. And while Baker is now a third generation owner of what is today GES-AGM, it wasn’t until 2015 that his company in Brazil merged with his father’s.
“I never wanted to work in the family business, to be honest,” Baker says. “I was obsessed with having my own company.” Kearney started GES in San Paolo, Brazil, doing similar graphite trading. When it clearly made good business sense, the companies were merged. Today Kearney leads from the juxtaposition of running a third-generation company that’s over 60 years old while innovating and thriving from his own unique perspective on business.
“Today, I’m pretty energized,” Baker acknowledges. “And with my personality, I can’t just stop growing.”
Why GES-AGM Engaged a Part-Time CFO
“To be honest, I didn’t really know where they were going to fit in the beginning,” Kearney says of working with a part-time CFO. Through a networking group he was introduced to Haleh Fardi, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of ProCFO Partners. GES-AGM hasn’t always had the best luck with fractional hires, but early success in strategy meetings and valuable insights delivered by CFO Tom Sherman quickly instilled confidence.
“We’ve put them in a position to do a lot of different projects,” Baker says. From leading strategic meetings to nurturing their Controller and even assisting with HR and IT projects. Tom Sherman’s diverse skill set and broad expertise has been a tremendous asset to GES-AGM.
The Value of ProCFO Partners to GES-AGM
“It’s hard to find people that you can rely on to get things done,” Baker asserts. “And Tom definitely gets things done.”
An area of improvement Kearney identified early in his engagement with Sherman was to have administrative departments be better able to scale with acquisitions. “Tom is really good at that,” says Kearney.
ProCFO Partners has introduced software to help automate HR onboarding processes, and Tom’s efforts have mentored HR leaders while freeing up Baker’s valuable time to focus on new initiatives. Improving systems and processes at GES-AGM has helped them be better prepared for future growth and innovation.
Leading and Legacy
“I’m very good as a startup leader, an entrepreneur that builds processes, picks his own people from the ground up and builds from there,” Kearney says. Baker is the kind of leader who knows his strengths and wants to augment his team to both cultivate those strengths and fill gaps in order to grow. With ProCFO Partners and Tom Sherman, GES-AGM is continuing to modernize with Kearney’s vision and aptitude for creating success in new endeavors.