Last year we announced the appointment of Mike Campbell as CEO, with Founder David Nolan moving into the role of Strategic Advisor. In this Q&A style blog, we wanted to give you a little more insight into Mike and his vision for Fusion. Part one focuses on Mike and his journey and part two will focus more on his vision for Fusion.
I started my first business as a self-study program my last semester of college. After that, I was sort of a serial entrepreneur, building a number of businesses with occasional bouts of running large organizations. I ended up founding a company called Campbell Software, that eventually got bought out by SAP. That’s when I started running SAP’s HR business. This was interesting because, at the time, I knew nothing about HR or payroll, but I learned very quickly. I then ran five different business units and professional services for them in the Americas. I’ve also been the Chief Operating Officer at FICO, the analytics company, and the Chief Executive Officer for International Decisions Systems.
When I was studying in college, I was also working at Bell Labs to learn programming, and at the time my mother was in charge of marketing for a very small puzzle company. That company was doing about $50,000 a year in business, which as you know is not much, even back then. I started putting together computer systems to make the company run better. In two years, they went from $50,000 to $1,000,000 a year with the same four people. Once the systems were running, I got involved in running the business. During the summer, I’d go to tradeshows and pitch bookstores on carrying the puzzles and such – that’s when I got the entrepreneurial bug.
Actually, it’s helped me quite a bit, because I’ve been able to do a lot of what I’ve done largely because my analytics and mathematical background. Much of my career has been applying high level math to business problems and getting new and interesting answers. Engineering just as a discipline is fantastic for business, because it teaches you to take what looks like a huge insurmountable problem and break it into solvable chunks. That’s what business is as well, trying to get from point A to point B. It may seem like a daunting task but it’s all manageable if you figure out how to break it down and get people to help you execute the pieces.
My diverse background is something that has prepared me to help guide Fusion during the amazing growth it has been experiencing. I’ve operated companies at multiple levels and been through this kind of growth before. During this time, it’s important to remember that the very things that make us successful today, are the things that will stand in our way and slow us down tomorrow if we don’t address them. We need to do that by keeping our clients happy, keeping our employees engaged, and improving the organization while not losing the culture of client care, fun, and commitment that has made Fusion so successful today.
Well, it certainly wasn’t intentional. I came in with the folks who did our strategic investment (Vista Equity Partners) and they asked me to take a look at Fusion. When I took a look, I just fell in love with the organization. The people were amazing, the technology was fantastic, and I’ve never seen clients this dedicated to a partner before, ever. It’s amazing how much our company not only cares about our clients, but also how much our clients care about us. That’s something you don’t see very often! Being able to be a part of something that special – with such a great group of people, clients, and partners – it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I couldn’t stay retired for that!
I am excited about this year because we are learning to focus on the things that are most important and executing those flawlessly. We’ve got a very clear plan for this year: on the product front and on the growth front. All the things that are important for us to be good at growing are being done this year. We’re setting the platform for growth going forward. It’s only the first quarter and we’re already overachieving on our plan, so it’s going to be a very exciting year
Well as strange as it may seem, my first hobby was to build a library in Zambia, which is very hard to do from far away. Turns out my next hobby is starting a farm in Zambia, which is even harder; particularly, because they are going through a drought right now.
I’ve built a lot of LEGOs – very, very large LEGOs. My three wonderful daughters have been doing this with me for years. We have a LEGOLAND worth of LEGOs. In fact, a couple of years ago we built a 4 ft version of the Saturn V rocket. This Christmas, we found a kit for the launch pad, which is maybe 3,000 pieces more than the rocket. I am currently working to finish the gantry and then I don’t know where I am going to put it.
Read more and hear all about Mike’s vision for Fusion in part two.