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2012 CFO OF THE YEAR: Steve Collins

Sam Stall
November 28, 2012
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Honoree, Public Companies

Serving as CFO at a big, established firm can feel like piloting an ocean liner, but CFO Steve Collins’ tour of duty at fast-growing ExactTarget has been more like a rocket ride. In his two years overseeing the company’s finances, he’s worried not about belt-tightening and staff reductions, but about how to manage white-hot growth.

“We serve a segment of the market—interactive marketing—that has proven to be recession resistant,” Collins said. “Our lowest growth year was in 2009 when we still grew 32 percent over the prior year. We made the decision during the downturn to continue hiring and growing our business, which at the time was a risky decision. We believe our investments paid off.”

steve-collins03-1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Age: 47

Family: wife Lynn; daughter Rachel, 17; son Mitchell, 15

Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa

Education: bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Iowa State University; MBA from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

Civic Involvement: Assisted in the establishment of the not-for-profit Exact Target Foundation; held leadership roles in the United Way, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Junior Achievement

Hobbies: Watching and playing sports, including golf, tennis and basketball

That must be true, because during Collins’ tenure the company also decided to go public—a move that sounds about as logical as swimming during a hurricane. He, CEO Scott Dorsey and other members of the management team crisscrossed the nation in 2011-12, conducting more than 100 analyst and investor meetings. The result was ExactTarget’s $150 million debut on the New York Stock Exchange.

“We believe it was the largest IPO ever for a Software-as-a-Service company in terms of initial market capitalization,” Collins said. “For my team, planning for the IPO meant months of nonstop work developing our long-term financial model, improving our forecasting accuracy, preparing SEC filings, and developing our internal business systems.”

Not that he got a chance to catch his breath after the IPO. This year the company expanded into Germany, acquired Atlanta-based Partod Inc, and also Indianapolis-based iGoDigital.

ExactTarget has continued its winning ways, posting second-quarter revenue of $69.3 million—a 42 percent increase over the same period last year. “Steve has been instrumental in helping ExactTarget strike the right balance between rapid growth and responsibility,” said chairman and CEO Scott Dorsey.

“Our most unique challenge is managing very high growth,” Collins said.

Though economists predict a tepid 2013 for the general economy, things look considerably more balmy inside the torrid microclimate at ExactTarget.

“We continue to be bullish on the prospects for our company and the interactive marketing sector that we serve,” he said. “This optimism is evident in our decision to increase our pace of hiring throughout the year. With our belief that our sector is fairly recession resistant, we don’t have to project accurately what the general economy will do, as we think we can grow effectively in almost any economic environment.”•

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Click here to return to the CFO of the Year landing page.

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  1. Hiking blocks to an office after fighting traffic is not logical. Having office buildings around the loop, 465 and in cities in surrounding counties is logical. In other words, counties around Indianapolis need office buildings like Keystone, Meridian, Michigan Road/College Park and then no need to go downtown. Financial, legal, professional businesses don't need the downtown when Carmel, Fishers, North Indy are building their own central office buildings close to the professionals. The more Hamilton, Boone county attract professionals, the less downtown is relevant. Highrises have no meaning if they don't have adequate parking for professionals and clients. Great for show, but not exactly downtown Chicago, no lakefront, no river to speak of, and no view from highrises of lake Michigan and the magnificent mile. Indianapolis has no view.

  2. "The car count, THE SERIES, THE RACING, THE RATINGS, THE ATTENDANCE< AND THE MANAGEMENT, EVERY season is sub-par." ______________ You're welcome!

  3. that it actually looked a lot like Sato v Franchitti @Houston. And judging from Dario's marble mouthed presentation providing "color", I'd say that he still suffers from his Dallara inflicted head injury._______Considering that the Formula E cars weren't going that quickly at that exact moment, that was impressive air time. But I guess we shouldn't be surprised, as Dallara is the only car builder that needs an FAA certification for their cars. But flying Dallaras aren't new. Just ask Dan Wheldon.

  4. Does anyone know how and where I can get involved and included?

  5. While the data supporting the success of educating our preschoolers is significant, the method of reaching this age group should be multi-faceted. Getting business involved in support of early childhood education is needed. But the ways for businesses to be involved are not just giving money to programs and services. Corporations and businesses educating their own workforce in the importance of sending a child to kindergarten prepared to learn is an alternative way that needs to be addressed. Helping parents prepare their children for school and be involved is a proven method for success. However, many parents are not sure how to help their children. The public is often led to think that preschool education happens only in schools, daycare, or learning centers but parents and other family members along with pediatricians, librarians, museums, etc. are valuable resources in educating our youngsters. When parents are informed through work lunch hour workshops in educating a young child, website exposure to exceptional teaching ideas that illustrate how to encourage learning for fun, media input, and directed community focus on early childhood that is when a difference will be seen. As a society we all need to look outside the normal paths of educating and reaching preschoolers. It is when methods of involving the most important adult in a child's life - a parent, that real success in educating our future workers will occur. The website www.ifnotyouwho.org is free and illustrates activities that are research-based, easy to follow and fun! Businesses should be encouraging their workers to tackle this issue and this website makes it easy for parents to be involved. The focus of preschool education should be to inspire all the adults in a preschooler's life to be aware of what they can do to prepare a child for their future life. Fortunately we now know best practices to prepare a child for a successful start to school. Is the business community ready to be involved in educating preschoolers when it becomes more than a donation but a challenge to their own workers?

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