About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.

I am the the head of talent & culture of a San Francisco Bay area based corporation with a background of 30 years working with executives, startup and leadership teams.

Views expressed on this blog are my own, not my employer’s or the view of any clients.

I have a very small, select part-time consulting practice incorporated as Back West, Inc. – working with individuals, teams, and organizations that started in 1996.  From 2006 – 2014 that practice was a successful full-time venture. I am presently working only with a very small number of clients.

I bring to my work over 30 years of business experience and a work background that spans industries including financial and professional services, high tech, biotech, retail and wholesale distribution. While I know a lot of theory, I also know a lot through the school of experience and practice. I haven’t been just a “tourist” in the business workplace – I’ve lived there and been a citizen. My work is marked by good, fast starts and results that last. 

When I work with individuals, teams and organizations it’s usually the about terrain and environment I know well since I’ve held jobs based from cubicles to the executive suite – all the while having coaching as a key component of my work.  My consulting practice – Back West, Inc . – is focused in three areas – executive coaching with individuals, coaching work with teams such as team start-up and team building, and group facilitation and off-site design. I am also an MBTI® Certified Practitioner.

Consulting work has included organizations ranging from start-ups such as  Atara Biotherapeutics, Good Medicine Consult & Advocacy, and Orexigen, Inc. to established smaller-to-mid-sized companies such as Weber Shandwick, Asia Alternatives Management, LLC, Silicon Valley Bank (SVB Group) and Fortune 500-type companies such as Synopsys, Inc., Cypress Semiconductor, Symantec, Inc. and Gilead Sciences. I’ve also been fortunate to work with non-profit organizations such as SRI International, the Robert Toigo Foundation, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Mission High School’s Athletics Scholars Advancement Program (ASAP) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Besides my current role with a publicly traded US corporation, I’ve also held corporate roles as a Senior Vice President of Human Resources with McKesson, a Director of Human Resources for Chiron Corporation, a Principal and Director of Human Resources for Fluid, Inc., and as a Principal and senior HR practitioner with Barclays Global Investors (now part of BlackRock), a San Francisco-based asset management company and during my tenure the world’s largest money manager.

You can read an interview  at WhoHub. The name of my consulting practice – Back West – comes from growing up in the Pacific West, and and living for a period in Chicago: calling home “back west” seemed to be the logical orientation rather than the usual “out west.” You can also follow me on Twitter as @JMikeSmith.