Mark Iwanowski is a well-known entrepreneur, an expert in strategic and tactical consulting, and a successful investor in technology companies.
He has completed three successful exits to Fortune 500 companies, and as Oracle’s global CIO, helped the company enter the cloud business, leading to significant growth.
He was also a managing director for a leading Silicon Valley VC, which provided him with in-depth knowledge of building, investing, and selling/buying technology companies.
Today, he runs a boutique consulting shop, where he uses his extensive operational experience to help companies of all sizes build successful companies.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Mark Iwanowski: University of Pennsylvania, undergrad, Masters at Cal Tech, and MBA at National University (San Diego). I am a three-time serial entrepreneur. Exits of all 3 companies to F500 companies.
Was also Oracle’s global CIO when I helped take oracle into the cloud business, which is where the majority of its growth is today.
Later was a Managing Director for a top-tier VC in Silicon Valley and now run my boutique consulting shop helping companies of all sizes with their growth strategies.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Mark Iwanowski: We provide strategic and tactical consulting services with companies of all sizes.
I am a serial entrepreneur and have also been a senior executive with several F500 companies, including as global CIO for Oracle (generated $1B in well-documented savings over 3 years and took them into the high-growth cloud business).
Later came a Managing Director with a leading Silicon Valley VC. As such, I have deep knowledge of re-building, investing, and selling/buying tech companies. It is very rare to find a consulting firm with the level of operational experience in all aspects of building successful companies.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Mark Iwanowski: Happy employees work in a culture that is stimulating and recognizes and rewards those that contribute most to company success. They do not, however, accept poor performance.
These companies have leaders that lead by example. These leaders help employees understand the key metrics for success and then have employees set their own goals that contribute to the same.
When those that struggle with their selves set goals, the managers offer mentorship and /or reposition these employees into areas where they can be more successful.
Constant communication at all levels is critical to reiterate success goals while listening to and acting on input from all employees that are constantly solicited.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Mark Iwanowski: AI and Machine Learning are just beginning to impact businesses and expect that 2023 will be the year these capabilities will really start to have a major impact like ChatGPT and Google’s just announced a competitive solution.
I work with my early-stage clients to help them understand how to navigate the market to maximize RoI of their efforts. Similarly, I work with my Mid and large-cap customers to understand how to leverage these new capabilities to stay one step ahead of their competition.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Mark Iwanowski: The biggest challenge facing companies (large and small) is the rate of change of introduction and acceptance of new technology. Every year technology introduction continues to accelerate at an exponential pace.
Consider in the last 10 years we have learned more than we did in the previous 50 years and this rate of change continues to accelerate. As such, only the most nimble companies will survive in the coming future.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Mark Iwanowski: In the case of small-cap companies, cash management is the number one reason early-stage businesses fail. In this regard, the key is to understand the metrics that drive a successful early-stage company.
For example, early on, a start-up should spend half its resource understanding the market and market positing, and the other half on product development, but the former needs to happen first as many start-up entrepreneurs start to build what they think the market needs before they validate that by talking to prospects.
The result is they build a product with minimal demand. As these companies approach cash flow positive, successful early-stage companies spend about 15-20% of revenue on product dev, 15% on G&A, and the rest of their gross margin on sales (which should be greater than 70%.
For large companies, the biggest challenge is (typically) middle level management resists needed change resulting in companies falling behind due to the disruption new technology is introduced by their competitors.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Mark Iwanowski: I really enjoy helping entrepreneurs and senior execs avoid the mistakes I made along the way in my career.
I have already started using AI (ChatGPT) to help automate my consulting business and expect it to be a big part of the future of my consulting business and hence the success of both my small and large-cap clients.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Mark Iwanowski for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Mark Iwanowski or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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