Having a Clear Understanding of What’s Important

November 7, 2022 | Mario Toneguzzi

Judy Brooks, Former SmartSweets Executive Chair, led the team for the multi-million dollar transaction by the Vancouver-based company a couple of years ago.

She has also founded and sold three companies in her career.

Key takeaways:

  • Focusing on the ‘how’;
  • Having a clear understanding of what’s important;
  • People first

Enjoy,
Mark

Judy Brooks, Former SmartSweets Executive Chair, led the team for the multi-million dollar transaction by the Vancouver-based company a couple of years ago.

She has also founded and sold three companies in her career.

What has she learned through the transactional processes?

“For me, the number was not the important thing in the SmartSweets deal. We all were focused on the how. What did it feel like? What was the impact to people, the team, the shareholders? What was the impact on relationships? We had a very clear mission around kicking sugar, did we feel like that mission was going to live on beyond the transaction?,” said Brooks.

Brooks is part of the luncheon keynote at the Vancouver Business Transitions Forum on November 23. The topic is How Vancouver based SmartSweets landed one of the sweetest private equity deals of 2020! During the discussion, people will hear how Canadian low-sugar confectioner SmartSweets grew revenue to over $100 million per year before selling a majority of their stake to TPG Capital for $360 million in 2020. 

Brooks will take people through what was important to the team and Founder Tara Bosch as they navigated the transaction, what the deal looked like and how SmartSweets continues to innovate on the mission to Kick Sugar.

“When I’m looking at businesses now and when people call me around either transactions or growth, I’m really intent on the how, not only the what, but the how. When people are starting business, what is the value proposition?”, said Brooks.

“How are you going to be a leader? How is it that you’re going to impact people? How is your company going to do business? What’s the energy? What’s the impact?”

Brooks is known for her ability to lead clear conversations with brevity and transparency to shift outcomes.

Over the last 30 years, she founded, built, and successfully sold three companies - including the global consumer brand, Blo Blow Dry Bar. She has a reputation for growing international, fiscally responsible companies, dynamic teams, and meaningful brands and cultures.

She has been mentoring and advising CEO Founders, Partners, Boards and Senior teams for over a decade, offering leadership development in high transition times (mergers, acquisitions, and strategic changes).

She has built a community through her self-reflection “Immersions” of over 700 individuals and companies such as Vega, NexGen Energy, and Emerald Health Sciences.

Currently, Brooks continues to serve on the Boards of SmartSweets and the Forum, a national charity educating and mentoring women entrepreneurs, as well as supporting many small SMEs as an advisor.

When it comes to selling a company, Brooks said having a clear understanding of what’s important is the key.

“Unless we’ve articulated it, we cannnot rally around it and ask questions about it,” she said. “In the moment, our brain will go to something different than what we’ve already cited as important. There’s emotion around us. There’s a sense of success around us,” she said.

“In all the transactions I’ve been involved in, that’s the most important. In SmartSweets we had a clear list of what was important. We had five things, philosophies, guides, that we galvanized around, that we kept reminding ourselves of as we went through the process and reminding each other of because in any moment if you don’t have a clear strategy to ask yourself questions against, you can get caught up in the excitement of the moment.

“For me, it’s people first. What is the impact of this decision? What is the impact on the totality of the people involved in this? For community? For society as a whole?”


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