Characteristics of a Strong Exec Sponsor Relationship - Wesley Pua, October 2023

We spoke with Wesley Pua (CFO at Fabric, fmr. VP of Finance at Udemy) about the characteristics of a strong relationships with Executive Champions.

Here were the key takeaways:

1) If an executive is going to step outside of their lived experience to champion a group, two things have to be present:

  • They Care: It's simple to say, but hard to find. Look for a leader who is genuinely excited to champion your group, demonstrates curiosity to learn and grow, and respects the opportunity to champion your group.
  • They Want to "Get Things Done": If they're there to be a figurehead, don't expect much more than that. Coming with an action-oriented mindset lays the foundation for a productive partnership.

2) Don't forget that Executive Sponsors are normal people, so build the relationship as such. Try to create a safe space for the Exec to be vulnerable and learn things they simply don't know. If you can help them avoid the "fear of saying the wrong thing," your relationship will be much more fruitful.

3) If you can clearly define what "success" looks like, your Exec Sponsor can help you "sell" the need for those resources. To do this, make sure you can succinctly articulate your group's "why" (what's our vision and why is it necessary for our company), since it's a key input to defining success metrics. If those two things exist, your Exec Sponsor can effectively advocate for resources.