interviewed by fellow T-bird, Carole Low
Q. Can you tell me about your career path?
A. After graduating from Thunderbird, I lived and worked (taught English) in China for a year. When I returned to my home in the Bay Area in 1984, I found a job at HP as the Far East Financial Analyst. Over the next 15+ years I held a total of 9 jobs at HP, on 3 continents, in 2 states, and with 5 different business units. Then, I decided to try something completely new and different, so in 2000 I took a job at Cisco, a great company, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
While at Cisco, a GM I supported there introduced me to the CEO of a well-funded startup, Procket Networks. So I went there to run all of finance. I then went to work at Adobe where I wanted to learn about software. Adobe had a well-deserved reputation for being a great place to work. I then effectively followed my Adobe boss to become CFO of a SaaS business, PayCycle, which provided U.S. small businesses with a powerful payroll system.
Intuit acquired PayCycle in 2009, so I did what Thunderbirds do, I traveled the world with my wife for 11 months. For the first time in my life since I had started my career, I enjoyed more than a 2-week vacation. After that break, I then went on to become CFO of Tropos Networks, which was acquired by ABB. After that, I took 9 months off and did more traveling. I ended up returning to work as CFO of a small company in San Francisco. During that time, I received a call from a former PayCycle board member asking me if I was interested in helping him spin the Quicken business out of Intuit. I accepted the challenge, so for the last 21months, I have been busy standing up a new $100M startup and working with an incredible team to reshape Quicken and help make an iconic brand into something even better.
Q. What are you working on, or what does a typical quarter look like?
A. As I mentioned above, my work focus was initially to stand up Quicken as a separate company from Intuit with operations in India, Tucson, and our headquarters in the Bay Area. I’m now helping the company reassess our traditional business model of desk-top software to something different in the future.
Q. What have your moments of insight been so far?
A. Over 30+ years of professional work there have been many moments of insight, but most of them occurred while at HP where I had the good fortune to work with incredible people focused on not just building a world-renowned company but also building well-rounded families and becoming solid community members. Working and living in Silicon Valley, it’s easy to get caught up in the “unicorn” mentality where one’s focus centers primarily on winning the lotto. I learned early on that the best path forward (for me at least) to a productive and happy life was to simply be me (and not feeling like you need to conform just to conform). Don’t forget those lessons we were all taught in kindergarten.
Q. How has attending Thunderbird influenced your career or personal life?
A. It has helped in many ways. The biggest is simply thinking more globally and embracing diversity in all its forms. It’s funny how people who know Thunderbird respond and say, “Wow, you went there!” Although, if they haven’t heard of it the response is something like, “Huh? Where? Isn’t that a wine?” The good news is that the people that count when it comes to one’s career know Thunderbird, and they know it well. I met some of my best friends at Thunderbird.
Q. What are your interests, skills, and talents outside of work, and how did they evolve?
A. I like a variety of things and have a variety of interests. They can be summarized by building things, being outdoors, and solving puzzles / problems. I like to hike, fish, hunt. My wife and I both enjoy growing vegetables in our home in Los Altos.
Q. What would you advise your 25-year old self?
A. I’d tell my 25-year-old self the same thing I tell folks early in their careers:
Be true to yourself.
Do what makes you happy. You will excel at those things that you like.
Network like crazy! Go to those Thunderbird reunions.
As much as you might want to (and feel justified to do so), don’t burn bridges. For those tough times, wait a day or two before responding.
Your number one priority should be to yourself and your family. The idea of being loyal to a company are long gone. It goes both ways.
Work hard but have fun! It’s easier said than done (the fun part).
Call your mom!