Possessing over 15 years of experience in leading multiple industry-specific software companies, Brock Philp is one of the leading transformational CEOs in the software industry. His contributions and efforts as the CEO of Newforma bolstered performance and rebalanced the company while also further solidifying his position as a pioneering leader – a CEO to watch in the B2B technology world. His journey is inspiring. He was only 24 years old when he looked after profit and loss at a company while also pursing his MBA degree taking night classes at the University of Toronto.
Philp shifted in his career path and became an account manager responsible for selling enterprise software to telephone companies. During this job Philp discovered his interest in the business of software, the field he chose to advance his career.
The Start of Something Big
While speaking at a business school event, Philp was approached after the presentation by the CEO of Constellation Software, a provider of software and services to vertical markets. Philp was introduced to the business of vertical markets and a recurring revenue model, and life was never the same again. From there, Philp went on to become the CEO of a company that provided software to private clubs such as golf courses, yacht clubs, and dinner clubs. Since then, Philp held several CEO positions at various software companies focused on vertical markets with recurring revenue, eventually joining Newforma.
A Company Dedicated to Improve Project Delivery
Newforma is the building and infrastructure industry’s leading project information management (PIM) software company, dedicated to improve project delivery, mitigate risk and reduce firms’ administrative workload. The company pioneered the PIM software category in 2004. To date, more than 1,500 architecture, engineering, and construction companies have used Newforma software on more than 3 million projects across the world.
Newforma provides Project Center and Project Cloud for Construction software. According to Philp, “Our software eases collaboration and simplifies the organization, distribution and access of critical project information (e.g. emails, RFIs and submittals, etc.) while maintaining a full audit trail.” The company integrates information from design, construction, and owner’s teams and provides markup and review tools, which help in saving time while mitigating risk. The software differentiates itself from every other solution in the marketplace by connecting project information silos, indexing data where it resides and managing email; this mitigates risk, promotes best practices, maximizes profitability, and enhances the reputation of the customer.
Jump off a Cliff and Assemble a Plane on the Way Down
Philp firmly believes to be a successful CEO, one needs to be willing and able to honestly self-analyze and also surround themselves with the right people. A CEO who thinks that they know everything will fail to get the most out of their people and will, most likely, either fail or seriously underperform.
Speaking about the challenges, Philp mentions, “…there is an incredible amount of data available today to digest, and it is coming at an incredibly fast pace. It is a challenge today to sort through that information to determine what is relevant to the business.”
Knowing your Vision and Being Confident About it
A few years ago, Philp decided to buy a software company back from institutional investors using private investors. During this time, he realized that there were employees who believed strongly in the company and wanted to invest. According to Philp, these were employees, not savvy investors with cash on hand to make investments. Some needed to decide with their families to make the investment as it would involve mortgaging their home. This was the moment when Philp got a wider-lens perspective of the duty, power, and responsibility of a CEO.
For any CEO, he mentions, perseverance is of utmost importance. It is important to stay motivated, even while facing obstacles, distractions and negative people. Following that, is having a can-do attitude. “Your attitude will affect others and encourage them as well.” The third key value is being honest with yourself and others around you. “Decide what you’re good at, and let others handle the parts they’re good at.” And finally, it is important to have a vision for the end game. “The end game is what you’re trying to accomplish in your career and for the company at the time. Know what you want that vision to be and be confident in it.”
Thinking about Tomorrow While Being Focused on Today
Over the past few years, Newforma has been largely North American-centric in its thinking. Although the company has global offices and global clients, it has been limiting its operations by thinking only of the needs of its clients from the North American perspective. In the next two years, Newforma will develop a global mindset. This would require a cultural change for the company, where it incorporates global needs into all its decisions.
Newforma will also be creating a global support organization with common service level agreements across all locations; as well as sending more of its employees to overseas locations and having the overseas employees to spend time in America. This will help them understand the needs of its clients better and develop a global organization that solves client problems. To conclude, Philp mentions “Finally, our account management group will better understand the indepth global operations of our customers’ current businesses and future plans, and will grow with them globally.”
I would tell new entrepreneurs that failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Things rarely go right the first time. I would also tell them to get an experienced mentor at the outset. Find someone who has experience taking ideas from concept to commercialization, and not someone who only focuses on sales, marketing, finance or some combination of these areas. You want someone who can help you from start to finish. Finally, I’d like to tell them, “Don’t quit!”