President and CEO, CrossCheck Inc.
Company address: 6119 State Farm Dr., Rohnert Park 94928
Staff: 145 (North Bay office)
Professional background: 19 years experience in the financial services and transaction processing field
Education: B.A. in business management, Sonoma State University
What do you see as the essential role of a leader in the current environment? As a leader, especially in the current economic environment, I must continue to inspire and encourage the people I lead. Integrity, candid/explicit communication and encouraging employees to share their ideas allow the entire team to take part in the company’s future. Round this off with acute observation and the active pursuit of new experiences/knowledge, and you have a strong leader in today’s business environment.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your industry? There have been numerous changes in the industry; however, I would say electronic check processing has made the biggest impact. Businesses can now convert a paper check received from a customer into an electronic transfer (sometimes called an e-check). Put very simply, the ACH network moves money from one entity to another — electronically.
What advice would you give to young emerging leaders? Young emerging leaders must immerse themselves in the industry of their choosing. Knowledge of the industry top to bottom coupled with strong leadership, dedication, compassion and integrity is what will carry a business to the next level.
What’s the best advice for weathering today’s economic environment? Set long-term goals (three-year period) and have frequent and honest communication with your team. Perhaps look for new opportunities that came about as a result of the economy such as acquisitions/partnerships.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years? In 2008, CrossCheck expanded its operations to include debt collection services through Optio Solutions LLC, a spinoff of CrossCheck, where I serve as chairman of the board. Since the opening of the first office in Rohnert Park, Optio Solutions has expanded to open offices in Dallas, Houston and Phoenix. Given the tremendous growth, we anticipate opening another 15 offices over the course of the next five years.
What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it? Early on, I relied heavily on promoting employees from within the ranks. It was my belief that individuals within the business knew how best to grow the business. In hindsight, I believe a balance between inside and outside talent is what it takes to grow a successful business.
What is your most memorable business experience? My appointment as president and CEO of CrossCheck in 2000.
What is your greatest business success? I achieved my greatest success while serving as executive vice president of sales and marketing at CrossCheck. During this period, CrossCheck experienced record breaking sales and annual growth of 40 percent.
What was your toughest business decision? Decisions that impact the lives of others are especially difficult. My toughest decision was to close our Glendale, Calif., call center and use the resources to open an office in Dallas, Texas. The high cost of living in Glendale was impacting our ability to staff the office, whereas Dallas has a much lower cost of living.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you? I never learned how to drive a stick (manual transmission).
First job: Delivering newspapers in New York
Most admired businessperson outside the company: Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. Mr. Job’s recognition that the company’s sole durable, non-transferable, irreplaceable asset was Apple’s image and the loyalty of its customers. Under his leadership, Apple has become the largest mobile device company in the world. $50 billion in annual revenue, 250 million iPods sold, 140,000 apps with more than 3 billion downloads. In my opinion, Apple is a brilliant marketing company. Steve Job’s leadership has invigorated operations and got customers excited again.
Current reading: James Patterson’s “7th Heaven”
Most want to meet: Derek Jeter … I am a huge Yankees fan.
Stress relievers: Enjoying a baseball game with my family
Favorite activities outside work: Spending time with my wife, Amy, and son Nick
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