ACG WI Member Since: 2019
Why did you join ACG?
I had been to ACG meetings in years past as a guest and panelist, and I thought it seemed a good group to be a part of.
How has ACG WI helped you in your career?
I have learned a lot and met many interesting people.
How did you come to your current role?
I’ve done most of my work in tech-enabled businesses. A long time ago I started an insurance software company with a partner. We raised $16M and eventually the company became part of FIS. As it happened, I continued my journey by joining Fiserv, where I started in corporate development. I sourced the company’s first acquisition in India and moved on to an operating role in growing India to 4,000 IT and back-office people and adding a similar facility in Costa Rica. We made this a revenue-producing line of business, which I ran, and I got responsibility for another acquisition in banking analytics along the way. I left in 2019 and began working with an old Wharton classmate, Robert Driscoll and his family office, Driscoll Holdings. Robert is a past Treasurer of ACG Philadelphia, by the way. We invested in a corporate training software company, Chapter, founded three years earlier by another Wharton connection, and I became President.
What lessons have you learned during the pandemic that you think you will carry over in the long term?
I’ve probably learned less than some people because I had already spent several years managing teams and clients too far way to visit often. Beyond that, I suppose I’ve become more aware of the fact that everyone has problems to deal with that you don’t always see in work, and that it’s good to sensitive to that. I have a colleague whose father died of Covid a former colleague of my age who died of it. Also, I think I’ve seen that most people need types of human connection that weren’t possible during the worst of the pandemic. I feel for the students especially, whose educations and experiences have been compromised. As the pandemic has eased and the government benefits extended, I’ve been struck by how many people there seem to be who would choose not to work if they don’t have to. I believe a healthy country is an industrious one.
What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years, and what actions is your business taking to position it for success in the future?
Chapter was built on the premise that corporate training needed to change in the face of digital transformation, and the new phenomenon of hybrid work only adds to that impetus. The industry of Cloud-based solutions for human capital management is growing nicely and there is high inflow of capital, so there will be consolidation over time, and we’d like to position Chapter well for that.
What do you do for fun?
I play tennis at Western Racquet Club in Elm Grove, where we live. I am not good, but I enjoy watching our son who won State in doubles this year. I play some golf, take a few fishing trips, do an annual pheasant hunt, and I read a lot. I ski with our daughter who’s on the Brookfield East ski team. I skied a lot growing up and worked on the Ski Patrol when I was at Dartmouth. We travel a lot as a family, and I really valued the chance in 2018 for my kids to spend a couple weeks in China. The friends I made in college and b-school mean a lot to me and we keep up with each other really well. Crazy but one of the coolest things I’ve done in the last few years was go to my first Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
My wife would like for me to learn to remain engaged at parties for more than two hours, so I guess I would too.
What is the best book you have read this past year?
Probably The New Map, by Daniel Yergin. It’s about energy and geopolitics. I’m as much for green energy as anyone, but I think it’s very underappreciated how much America’s ingenuity in oil and gas production has grown our economy, gained us energy independence, and given us a new level of strategic flexibility on the global stage. I may be biased because my grandad was a wildcatter in the Permian Basis of Texas and New Mexico starting in the 1920’s.