In the late 1990s, when Stuart Henrickson was CFO for Koch Industries’ Canadian operations, Chase Manhattan made him a job offer unlike any that he had received before.
“It was a fork in the road for me. Koch had been consolidating and bringing many of its operations back to their head office in the U.S., and it happened to be at that point in time that Chase brought me the opportunity,” explains Henrickson, who reports that he was asked to spearhead a development bank for Chase in the Middle East.Read More
“So, within the course of a week, I had to make a decision regarding whether I went down to the U.S. to be part of a Koch team that was already built or instead started to do something new with a blank sheet of paper,” recalls Henrickson.
After 4 years with Chase, he would join the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, where he led investment banking for nearly 5 years before accepting a CEO position with Standard Bank MENA.
In all, Henrickson’s Middle East career chapter would extend across 11 years, a span of time during which the Middle East’s appetite for financial services escalated along with the price of oil, which grew from roughly $9 a barrel at about the time of his arrival to a high of $149 per barrel, according to Henrickson.
He recalls: “The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) went from having a handful of Western-based financial institutions consisting of rep offices of between 2 and 10 people to growing overnight to eventually number some 1,500 employees. Dubai became the hub for the whole region.”
Asked for some pointers when it comes to doing business in the Middle East, Henrickson says that board members and company management need to be treated differently.
He remarks: “I remember that one board member from a large local investment house told me, ‘The biggest difference between a European investment banker and an American investment banker is that the European knows full well that he needs to come back every 3 months for a year or two before he would get a deal, while the American comes over, doesn’t get a deal, and leaves in frustration—for good.’”
Still, the biggest differences in business are in the thought processes, he explains.
“Leave your logic at the door—so much of it is knowing what makes the other person tick,” says Henrickson. –Jack Sweeney
CFOTL: Tell us about Bold Commerce. What does this company do and what are its offerings today?
Henrickson: Bold is not as well known, and that’s okay by us because we’re in the background. We really develop software solutions for e-commerce platforms for companies that you know about, like Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and commercetools. So, we build these software solutions really for the merchants that are on those various platforms. We deal with over 90,000 different merchants, all the way from your small mom-and-pops to the multi-billion-dollar companies. We’ve got over 20 different solutions. We really focus on the checkout experience. So, when you go online and you purchase something and you check out, that’s often us in the background doing it.Read More
CFOTL: Is the market for talent in your geography pretty competitive?
Henrickson: From a talent perspective, certainly, in Canada—and where we are based, in Winnipeg—it becomes a little bit more challenging, but if you’ve got a good, strong name, you end up being someplace that people want to work at—like Shopify did in Ottawa, where they really did focus on their area, stretching out to other places like Toronto and Waterloo and Winnipeg. We’ve actually started looking elsewhere, too. We expanded into Austin, Texas, about a year and a half ago. One thing that COVID has really done for us is cause us to start to realize that remote work is something that’s certainly viable. We hadn’t really known this a year ago. This has allowed us to go after the best talent, primarily in North America, as opposed to just the best talent in our own backyard.
CFOTL: What are your top-of-mind metrics these days?
Henrickson: One is our growth trends, which is more our internal or annual run rate, the customer, the growth and customer types, different types of merchants, enterprise versus SMB, and on what types of platforms. For customer metrics, there’s certainly DRR, with our customer retention rate or churn, lifetime value, customer acquisition costs, revenue per user. We technically have about 14 that we look at monthly, but there are seven or eight that all really are tracked on an ongoing basis, and this is really where our focus will be. This tells us our future. These are our KPIs. jb
Bold Commerce | www.boldcommerce.com | Winnipeg, Canada