Kurt Chilcott and Tyler Orion discuss future leadership plans for FE Small Business Finance


May 22, 2021

After over 20 years of leading FE Small Business Finance, company CEO and President Kurt Chilcott is looking ahead and wants to share the plans for transition of leadership at FE.

Chilcott, a veteran and innovator in the community-lending industry, sat down with FE board member Tyler Orion to discuss the timeline, search process, and FE’s vision to create an even greater impact.

Here’s your front-row seat to their conversation:

Orion: Tell me about your future plans for leadership at FE.

Chilcott: Sure, this is a good time to share about my next chapter. Although it wouldn’t be a bad thing, I will not lead FE forever. I have always seen FE continuing to grow and evolve well beyond my tenure. So, with that in mind, I am starting to plan for my transition from leadership of FE. This comes at a great time for the organization, as I think FE is at an inflection point. It is a time where the right new leadership will have the capability to take us to even higher heights.

Orion: When is this happening?

Chilcott: This isn’t happening tomorrow – it will most likely be within the next 18 months. It is a top priority for me and our leadership team to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search that results in a smooth transition. We are currently in the early stages of our search.

Orion: Will the new CEO be an internal candidate?

Chilcott: After much thought and exploration with the current FE exec team, we decided that bringing in someone new would be the best option for FE. Many people on the exec team are incredibly capable and great candidates. However, when we looked at our vision for FE, each elected to continue in their positions as they feel that is how they can bring the most value and impact to the organization.

Orion: How do you think a new CEO will affect FE?

Chilcott: We see this as a tremendous opportunity to add new strengths to FE. We are looking for a candidate that brings an approach and experience that can elevate the great work that FE already does. I am a strong believer that FE is where it is today because of the people and its culture. The organization’s core values are the foundation of its’ great success: integrity, teamwork, commitment and making a difference. So, one of our main goals is ensuring that new leadership reflects who FE is and will lead in a way that maintains and celebrates our current values and culture while also bringing new assets to the company.

Orion: How is the search going?

Chilcott: As you know, we have selected a Search Committee from the FE board that includes people that have been associated with FE for a long time and represent different backgrounds from SBA lending to economic development to entrepreneurship. We are at the beginning phase of our search and are currently reaching out to our network to identify candidates.

Orion: Any other changes expected in the leadership team?

Chilcott: At this juncture, the members of the leadership team will continue as members of the executive team at FE. The entire team is involved in the discussions about this transition and are invested in helping to support FE’s continued impact in whatever way possible. It’s also expected that the new CEO will have the opportunity to add new positions based on FE’s new strategic plan.


Chilcott: Let’s talk about your experience with FE and how we connected many years ago…

Orion: As you know, I have a long history with FE and you. I was first introduced to FE and Art Goodman, FE’s founder, in the late 80s and early 90s when I was doing business advising and sending over loan packages. Around the same time, I met you, while you were at the city and I was establishing the technology incubator that I ended up running. I continued my involvement by having you on my board at the Regional Technology Alliance, and then by being on FE’s board, and most recently acting as Chair in 2021 and 2021. I have been fortunate to watch FE grow and am incredibly impressed by FE’s values, culture, and of course, the impact the company has on small business.

Chilcott: As Chair of the Selection Committee, what is your perspective on the process?

Orion: We have been very deliberate in putting together the Search Committee to best serve the future of FE, with a strong feel for both the community that we serve and the culture that we want to sustain. I feel strongly that this team brings the right experience and great group intelligence that will serve FE well in selecting the new CEO. As FE is the leader in its space, the Search Committee is looking for a candidate that will bring his or her unique experience and expertise to help FE realize an even greater potential.

Chilcott: What do you see resulting from the change in leadership?

Orion: The new leadership is coming into such a strong and successful company that is not only an industry leader but also grounded in its values and culture. There is a great opportunity for a new CEO to build on that foundation to take FE to an even higher level of impact. Also, as you know, the industry is continuously evolving, so I see the new CEO being innovative and agile in their approach to advocating for and supporting the ever-changing needs of small business owners.

Over the last 40 years, FE Small Business Finance has launched and grown their operations while always innovating and planning for long-term needs. Our foundation is rooted in focusing on how to best meet small business owners needs and evolving to create greater and greater impact. We’re more than a small business lender, we’re an advocate for all entrepreneurs, including women, minorities and military veterans.

Tell our loan experts about your business, and they’ll work to match you with a business loan that best suits you. Let’s talk! Reach us at loaninfo@cdcloans.com or (619) 243-8667

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