An Accountant Becomes Chief Operating Officer in IT Consulting
Chris Kein had been working for two years as financial controller at ObjectNet Technologies, an Atlanta-based IT support and services company, when top management asked him if he might be open to a job change.
“They wanted me to work directly with customers,” says Chris, who graduated from MUM with an MBA in Accounting in 2010. What his superiors had noticed was that Chris possessed the ideal qualities of a high-tech salesman: a gregarious, easy-going nature, the ability to communicate persuasively and listen well, and a masterful understanding of enterprise resource planning (ERP) technology, his company’s stock and trade.
So I thought, ‘Why not?’,” says Chris. “I wanted to be as saleable in the market as possible.”
His new position in business development required that he travel to customer locations to try to secure new business. And he thrived at it, landing many lucrative contracts and eventually being promoted Vice President of Business Development. Now, five years later, Chris is the company’s Chief Operating Officer, leading West Coast operations from his offices in Sunnyvale, California.
Chris also runs business development for HCM Solutions, based in Singapore, and Sharp Gurus, based in Mumbai, India. His talent lies in finding firms in North America in need of software development, product development, human resources, and IT training, and then connecting them up with onshore, nearshore and offshore experts who can fill those needs.
Chris’s main focus is on providing SAP support and maintenance to customers. SAP is software that runs the infrastructure, “Whereas small companies might use QuickBooks,” says Chris, “the huge multinationals often use SAP (or Oracle or PeopleSoft) to run their businesses.” SAP, as a company, claims more than 300,000 customers worldwide.
Installations of SAP code tend to be very complex, and invariably companies need help in updating, repairing and customizing the software and systems that use it. To avoid the high cost of full-time software developers, companies will often turn to outsourcing. “Basically they want less expensive labor,” says Chris. “We provide that. We fill in the gaps. It may be staff augmentation, or sometimes a combination solution is most cost-effective — for example, instead of two senior-level people in the U.S. we might offer one in the U.S. and one in India.”
MUM, TM, and Creative Business Development
In his quest to find new business, Chris puts his drive, affability, and ingenuity to work in any number of ways.
“I’m the kind of person who tends to do a lot of networking,” he says. “I attend meetups of professionals and recruiters. I will often mix social events with business. I go to activities put on by ethnic groups. I play golf. I donate to local associations. I see these all as opportunities to talk about my company. I’m fairly well known in the community.”
Says Chris, “In my personal life, I generally don’t slow down at all. That’s where Transcendental Meditation comes in. Since I started, I’ve seen tremendous changes in my personal and professional life. TM is the real advantage of MUM. You could pay a million dollars looking for something as effective, but I doubt you’d find it.”
Chris spends a lot of time on the road for his job — and the road sometimes leads back to Fairfield, Iowa, home of MUM.
“Every year I come to MUM to give a workshop on SAP Finance to the accounting students,” he says. “I really enjoy it there. The faculty are wonderful, friendly people. On top of that there is Iowa, which is so beautiful. Whenever I go to MUM I tell my company, ‘I’m going back to my hometown.’”
Written by Warren Goldie