For this week’s edition of FinanciElle “$tatements”, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Ameetha Garbharran, Founder of expsyt. I had the chance to meet her at Elevate International Women’s Day Summit.
expsyt is a boutique consulting firm specializing in assessments for leadership selection and development, executive coaching and organization-wide competency design.
Dr. Ameetha Garbharran is an Industrial & Organizational (I-O) Psychologist. As an I-O Psychologist, she applies psychological theories and scientific principles to understand, measure and predict human behaviour, specifically leadership behaviour, at work. She specializes in leveraging psychological assessments designed for the workplace to measure behaviours that have been empirically linked to effective leadership performance to help organizations make strategic talent decisions.
In her career, she spent 20 years assessing and measuring leadership behaviour and predicting leadership success. During this time, she worked with different types of leaders spanning all organizational levels in varied work contexts.
Entrepreneurs are a special and fascinating brand of leader she encountered in the course of her work. Under the auspices of expsyt (pronounced excite), she developed the Entrepreneur Success Profile (ESP) to assess the unique blend of behaviours exhibited by this group of leaders with the goal of predicting potential for entrepreneurial success.
The ESP offers a comprehensive behavioural model to measure and predict the complex range of behaviours that entrepreneurs require to envision, initiate, grow and sustain viable and profitable businesses.
Paolina: There’s a lot of information out there about how male and female entrepreneurs get asked different questions by investors , and how they are looked at differently.
Do you think the Entrepreneur Success Profile could help standardize the way investors evaluate entrepreneurs and help to eliminate conscious or unconscious bias? How would the Industry go about leveraging the Profile to do so?
Absolutely, the ESP is ideally suited to help investors standardize the way they evaluate entrepreneurs. It can be effectively employed to eliminate the implicit or explicit biases that could creep into investors’ decisions about whether to fund entrepreneurs.
The psychological assessments used to measure the behaviours linked to entrepreneurial success in the ESP are designed to achieve three important ideals: objectivity, standardization and predictiveness. Individually and in combination, these conditions are crucial for introducing fairness into and extracting bias from the assessment process.
Objectivity is achieved with the ESP by using highly trained experts in leadership assessments to evaluate entrepreneurs against a pre-defined, empirically-based set of criteria linked directly to the prediction of entrepreneurial success. This eliminates the potential for subjective criteria such as gender, age, racial background, ethnicity or other random criteria not related to evaluating entrepreneurial effectiveness to enter into the decision-making process.
Standardization is achieved in two main ways using the ESP.
- All entrepreneurs being considered for funding complete a fully standardized assessment process down to the questions each individual is asked during the fit-for-purpose structured behavioural interview. expsyt also strongly recommends that investors pose a consistent set of questions to all entrepreneurs in parallel evaluation opportunities such as the post-pitch question and answer sessions. These questions, whether they are promotion or prevention-oriented as discussed in article by Kanze, Huang, Conley & Higgins (2017), should be geared towards achieving the ultimate objective of predicting entrepreneurial success to avoid the introduction of subjectivity and bias into the investor decision-making process.
- A uniform set of decision-rules is applied to consistently interpret the psychological assessment results for all entrepreneurs applying for funding in order to make a fair determination of entrepreneurial potential. When the ESP constitutes one part of a larger evaluation process, expsyt will work closely with investors if required to ensure that their other evaluation methods and decision-rules are also consistently applied to all entrepreneurs being considered for funding.
Predictiveness is accomplished by using assessment tools and methodologies that have been empirically shown to be reliable and valid. This means that they are selected and created based on their potential to both consistently and accurately measure the behaviours linked to entrepreneurial success in the ESP.
In addition to ensuring that individual assessment tools and methodologies are reliable and valid, expsyt uses powerful combinations of assessments to measure the behaviours linked to entrepreneurial success.
Research has shown that stacking and combining reliable and valid assessments tools and methodologies increases their incremental validity and improves their predictive capability. expsyt leverages this advantage with the ESP to eliminate the opportunity for subjectivity and bias and maximize the predictive capability of the assessments used to assess behavioural potential for entrepreneurial success.
By design, the ESP:
- Is geared towards evaluating entrepreneurs against a common objective set of behavioural criteria that have been empirically linked to entrepreneurial success.
- Is oriented towards being applied in a standardized way to all entrepreneurs regardless of subjective factors such as age, gender or personal background
- It leverages reliable and valid assessment tools and methodologies to consistently and accurately predict potential for entrepreneurial success.
This eliminates the potential for unrelated or subjective criteria to enter into the predictive equation. As such, the ESP can be used to fairly and objectively identify individuals with high behavioural potential for entrepreneurial success and recommend them for investor funding.
Paolina: What are some examples of how the ESP can be used?
The ESP is designed to help investors enhance the quality of their investment decisions and maximize return on investment (ROI) by identifying, selecting and developing entrepreneurs with high potential to succeed. The ESP is also a useful tool for entrepreneurs who are keen to develop the behaviours linked to entrepreneurial success. Leveraging the ESP, expsyt coaches entrepreneurs to raise their self-awareness, harness strengths and bridge performance gaps through targeted behaviourally-based development.
Paolina: What has been your hardest experience dealing with your business and money/finance and what did you learn?
As an entrepreneur, one of the most difficult challenges I confronted from a financial perspective was continuing to run a profitable consulting business while conceptualizing, designing and building new services and solutions.
I learnt that I needed to gift myself the time to think, create and develop client offerings that provide meaningful solutions without feeling guilty or anxious about losing the consulting revenue I was not personally generating during these times.
I also quickly learnt the importance of building a strong network with colleagues who were fellow I-O Psychologists with strong skill-sets and developed partnerships with them so they could help on consulting projects while I needed to focus on design and development or when there was a high volume of work that needed to be delivered in compressed time-frames.
Paolina: What advice do you wish you had gotten about finance when you were first starting your business?
Running a business in a new context governed by unique market conditions taught me many lessons. The most significant one was that when forming long-term partnerships with other entities, it is important to attach a time-frame to contracts so that they can be reviewed annually at a minimum.
In one of my earliest contracts this condition was not in place. This resulted in a contract that was created in perpetuity, which made negotiations about project delivery expectations, rates and other changing and changeable terms close to impossible. In retrospect, I wish that someone had advised me to include a time-based clause indicating a finite period of relevance in all my contracts.
Paolina: What are your FinanciElle Faves right now?
- Favourite business/leadership book? is “The Good Fight: Use Productive Conflict to Get Your Team and Organization Back on Track” by Liane Davey, Ph.D.
- Favourite productivity tool? Zoom
- Favourite podcast? Thrive with Komal Minhas, a podcast for women entrepreneurs presented by StartUp Canada in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada and Scotiabank
Contact Dr. Ameetha Garbharran for more information about the ESP and how to take advantage of expsyt’s special Spring/Summer 2019 ESP promotional offer.