Whether he’s keeping pace or getting ready to make a move, Warren Beach is always prepared for the tough road ahead. A dedicated finance executive and cycling enthusiast, he’s committed to investing for the long haul, ready to take on new challenges at every turn.
We caught up with Beach as he was transitioning from his role as operating executive of private equity firm Golden Gate Capital to his latest challenge as chief financial officer of TimberWest, Western Canada’s largest private timber and land management company.
At Golden Gate, Beach was responsible for exploring and developing strategies aimed at maximizing gains from the firm’s investments.
He worked with newly acquired companies from industries such as information technology services, software and technology to meet operational goals and investment potential.
Beach is always on his mark with emerging technologies, and he knows the value of building strong relationships and staying current in a rapidly evolving market landscape.
“I’ve worked to bring two companies together, and it’s always important to take pieces from both to create one strong strategy,” says Beach. “Both may have strong management teams with strong leaders and be fiercely independent, but it’s about finding those synergies and selling that balance to let people, and the combined business, thrive.”
Changing pace is nothing new for Beach.
In early 2012, he joined Golden Gate Capital as operating executive after spending six years working as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Vancouver-based IT services firm Sierra Systems Group Inc.
As CFO at Sierra Systems, Beach capitalized on the momentum of the technology revolution and prepared the firm — which employs more than 1,000 people and operates in 12 locations across North America — to transition from being publicly traded on the TSX to its acquisition by Golden Gate Capital in 2007.
A major challenge Beach faced before Sierra was acquired was reinventing the perception of the firm in the market, mainly to potential investors and the banks. He worked with analysts to help them understand that the focus of the business was on long-term growth, not just on short-term earnings.
“We had to think strategically about marketing Sierra differently once we decided a private sale was its best opportunity for success,” says Beach. “You always have to think about your external stakeholders, whether it’s with a publicly traded company or a private firm. So helping the analysts and the banks understand our business really paid off when it came time to renegotiate our debt agreements and our eventual sale.”
Gearing up for success
Beach says his time working his way from articling student to senior staff accountant at EY’s Vancouver office helped set the groundwork for his career goals and his personal aspirations in life. He values the opportunities he gained working at such a diverse service firm, allowing him to create lasting relationships with a variety of business leaders and, more important, build strong personal connections.
“Working at EY enhanced my perspective of business and helped shape the work ethic that I’m so very proud of,” he says. “Actually, the beauty of having a CA in general is that it really offers the ability to explore different opportunities and make a difference out there. You’re not limited to one single industry.”
Beach is dedicated to building strong, diverse teams for the companies he works for. “Finance groups can go much further than simply churning out reports and financial statements,” he states. “I set tight deadlines for my teams, which frees up time for their development and growth in the business. This is key to their professional success, and to the organization’s overall success.”
It’s apparent Beach enjoys a healthy balance of work and play. “It’s about finding that sweet spot in between — that’s where people are most productive,” he notes.
And he definitely follows his own advice. “My goal in life is to be happy — happy with my professional contributions and my sports interests, but most important, happy with my family.”
Perhaps the experience that left the longest-lasting impression on him during his time at EY is the community and charity work he did through the firm’s longstanding support of the United Way.
Building a community
Getting involved in the community is where Beach sees his biggest reward. He’s spent the last five years serving on the United Way Lower Mainland Campaign Cabinet, including one term as co-chair.
He’s also involved with the University of British Columbia’s Human Early Learning Partnership and takes part in the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer® as member of the Wedgewood Cycling Team. In fact, he helped raise more than $1 million for cancer research by putting together a diverse team of professionals for the two-day cycling event, which saw thousands of riders travel from Vancouver to Seattle last June.
In his personal time, Beach makes sure to schedule time to cycle, swim and ski, regularly escaping to Whistler with his wife Shara, son Ryan, 15, and daughter Alaina, 12.
Beach says his philosophy in both his personal life and his career is pretty simple: “You need a healthy work–life balance that promotes a sense of purpose and a level of engagement.”
“Compensation comes in two forms,” he says. “There’s of course the monetary part. But taking a gamble sometimes and moving out of your comfort zone to expand your experience and knowledge can help you look at your life and career from a different angle, in a more meaningful way.”
And as someone who’s in constant motion, Beach is always getting a fresh perspective.