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When it comes to newbie accountants, few clients are more coveted within the realm of public accounting than those preparing for an IPO. So it was back in the early 1990s, when Craig Nickerson found himself knee-deep in CPA envy after having served not one but five of his firm’s IPO-minded tech clients. Today, Nickerson credits his IPO client streak to having aligned himself with a well-connected senior partner widely known in Florida’s tech community for his IPO savvy.
Fast-forward to the late 1990s, and Nickerson is living in Beijing after having been tasked with helping to set up a Chinese manufacturing plant for a client company that he had joined as a controller. “It was the Wild West,” explains Nickerson, who recalls the added complexities of business dealings involving large amounts of cash. “As they said in China, an executed contract is just the start of a negotiation.”
Nickerson, who would later ascend the finance leadership ladder at a string of private equity–backed companies, observes that “anyone can be a good CFO when the numbers are up and to the right … but being a good CFO is about having the fortitude to stick with your investment thesis through good times and bad times.”
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Guest: Craig Nickerson, CFO
U.S. Headquarters: Raleigh, NC
CFOTL: After multiple CFO tours of duty, why were you attracted to insightsoftware?
Nickerson: Number one, when I look back at my career, I see that I enjoy working in the world of private equity. I enjoy the accountability. I enjoy the fact that you’re measured on a quarterly basis. The fact that insightsoftware was backed by a very well-known private equity sponsor, a financial sponsor, in TA Associates.
They’re a group of individuals who are known to be extremely successful. They buy into a space, they invest in a space, and they’re very aggressive about growing it–not just organically, but through M&A.
When I first joined the business, they had just put two businesses together. Since I’ve been here, we’ve acquired three more. And you know, I would be disappointed if in the next probably six to nine months we didn’t acquire three or four more businesses. So while we’re focused on growth, we’re focused on controlled growth, and we’re much more focused on bottom-line profitability.
There are a lot of advantages to being profitable. When you’re aligning with customers, they can look at you more strategically. You’re going to be around for the long term. You can continue to invest aggressively in innovation. When you’re selling software to enterprise customers, they want to know that you’re going to be around for a long time and that you’re going to be able to continue to invest in R&D.
I think that if you take a look at our space and our competitors’, you would take a look at a company with an R&D budget for 2019 that is probably larger than the majority of our competitors’ top-line revenues. So we’re in a very, very good, a very strong position. Those are a number of the reasons that I was interested in coming to this opportunity.