'Our company is growing at 3x the industry average, so we are taking market share from our competitors'
Q: Describe your company.
A: IFS is an enterprise software company with strong global footprints in enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise asset management (EAM) and field service management (FSM). While some other companies in our market got their start in software for manufacturing, our first product was a maintenance management system for a nuclear power plant.
So over the years, we have been leaders in areas where it is important to manage complexity, risk and real-time operations. We are strong in aerospace and defense, complex manufacturing, power generation, oil and gas drilling, food and beverage manufacturing and field service with heavy contract management and reverse logistics requirements.
Q: Do you have a business mantra?
A: Happy employees create happy customers ….
Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
A: We are growing rapidly, and are hiring in our Itasca headquarters and in our other offices around North America. At any given time we are filling positions for software implementation managers, business consultants, business development and regional sales professionals, marketing staff and software engineers. Most of these are net new positions as we staff up to handle our growth.
Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?
A: Every day you need to balance caring for customers, caring for employees, and driving business results. You have likely done a good job in these areas to get you to your new position -- don't lose sight of any of them as you gain experience.
Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?
A: There are two areas that we will continue to focus on this year. First, we are rapidly growing both organically and through acquisition. Our focus will be to continue to manage both aspects of the business while not losing sight of how we got here in the first place. In the last 12 months, our North American presence has gone from approximately 265 employees to over 800 employees.
Even with this explosive growth, we continue to have exceptional customer satisfaction and employee retention -- our goal is to continue to lead the industry in both of these areas while we continue to grow. The second area will be continuing to attract smart, collaborative people who love to take care of the customer, as well as also fitting into our culture. Our employee tenure is three times the industry average, and we plan to keep it that way.
Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?
A: The internet of Things (IoT) is a trend affecting many industries. In our market, manufacturers and others have been attaching sensors and programmable logic controllers to equipment since the 1970s, and using them for industrial automation. With the falling price of sensors and increased connectivity, IoT is enabling our customer and prospect base to automate more processes by integrating this data with the software they use to run their business -- including products from IFS. A company offering aftermarket field service for industrial equipment, for instance, can embed sensors that can tell when service is required and use our software to automatically generate a work order and dispatch a technician. Other customers are collecting data from IoT and using it to make better decisions.
Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?
A: Our employees. That is where the rubber meets the road. Every day I am thoroughly impressed with their hard work and dedication to making this business a success. They are truly an inspiration to me.
Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?
A: Our company is growing at 3x the industry average, so we are taking market share from our competitors. At the same time, we also are maintaining the highest customer satisfaction scores in our industry. I am very proud of our employees to be able to manage both very effectively.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I like to spend time with family and get outside.
Q: What book is on your nightstand?
A: My list keeps growing, but right now I'm reading "Wild," by Cheryl Strayed. From a business perspective, I just read "Leaders Eat Last."
Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?
A: Drinking wine in Italy I suppose? I have spent my whole career in technology, and cannot imagine doing anything else.
Q: What was your first paying job?
A: I worked at a family-owned grocery store during high school and summers in college. It was a great way to meet people, and it was well before scanners, so it sure helped with my typing skills. My first job out of college was with a technology company -- when you pressed lemonade on the vending machine, a PBR came out -- a perfect transition from college.
Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?
A: The United Center because it's local and home of two teams with historic programs.
Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?
A: I have learned not to rush to a meeting, while walking on unfamiliar streets in a large downtown city, while reading email -- the fall was not bad -- it was the landing that hurt.
Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.
A: @Earth because of its intriguing travel pictures and @WilliamWegman because Weimaraners are the best dogs.