A Decade of Leadership at Deltek
An interview with Deltek President and CEO Mike Corkery
Mike Corkery, Deltek’s President and CEO, often refers to himself as a husband, proud dad and recovering CFO. And 10 years ago when he joined Deltek, he was, in fact, all three of those. Within a few short years, he transitioned from being our CFO to President and CEO and has led the company through record growth. Now, as he celebrates his 10-year anniversary at Deltek, we asked Mike about his professional leadership and personal journey and about his favorite moments being at the helm of Deltek.
Looking back over your decade with Deltek, what has changed?
I guess just about everything has changed – and fortunately, we have made a lot of progress! Our team has nearly tripled in size since 2010, growing from just about 1,000 employees to 3,100 employees around the world. We’ve expanded from 8 to 23 offices worldwide. We are a far different company in terms of what we offer as well. When I started at Deltek, we were primarily focused on supporting government contractors and A&E firms in the U.S., but since 2010, we’ve expanded our product portfolio and geographic reach through organic growth and 15 acquisitions. We now offer a comprehensive range of solutions for all types of project-based businesses with customers of all sizes around the globe.
While there’s been a whole lot that has changed over the past decade, what’s even more important is what hasn’t. We have always been invested in ensuring our customers’ success, and over the past 10 years we have built on that and improved our customer centricity at every point. Our people and culture have also always been a focus for us, and that hasn’t changed and has certainly evolved. We have kept Deltek a great place to work and our team is the best it has ever been. These elements are the foundation of our success, and we intend to make them even better as we continue to grow.
During your time at Deltek, what have been the defining moments for you?
We have been fortunate to have a lot of success as a company over the past 10 years, so it’s hard to choose. One of the things that we can all be proud of is the incredible interest potential stakeholders have had in our company. We’ve been through two sale processes over the past 10 years and each time an amazing slate of potential owners have been keenly interested in partnering with us – a testament to our success and having the right strategy. So, given that, I think the milestone we achieved that I am most proud of is the sale of Deltek to Roper Technologies. It’s no secret that they paid $2.8B for Deltek, which is further evidence of the cumulative success over the company’s history. This figure also represents Roper’s confidence in our mission and our people, and in our ability to continue delivering great results.
Being part of Roper, we now have a forever home that helps further solidify our long-term strategy and focus for our team and our customers – we will continue focusing on powering project success for Deltek Project Nation! We will continue to grow and expand our business while getting great support from the Roper team, as evidenced by last year’s acquisitions of ComputerEase and Avitru, which happened because of the strong backing of Roper.
Finding a home at Roper was the best possible outcome for the future of Deltek. We were very fortunate to have two great previous owner partners in private equity firms New Mountain Capital and Thoma Bravo. These firms buy businesses generally with some type of exit in mind to monetize their investment. This can be disruptive for employees and customers, as they don’t know if new ownership will continue to pursue the same strategy. We can say we are in it for the long haul with Roper because their approach is to buy great businesses that will continue to grow and can run independently. Deltek certainly fits that description. The other advantage of being part of Roper is that we will always make decisions in the best long-term interest of the business, rather than a short-term focus driven by another potential sale of the company.
Your personal journey with Deltek started as CFO, and quickly after that you became CEO. What was that transition like?
When I joined Deltek in 2010, I had zero aspirations of being CEO! Kevin Parker, our CEO at that time, decided to pursue other opportunities after an incredibly successful run at the helm. I loved being Deltek’s CFO and being on Kevin’s team, so when I was asked to be the CEO on an interim basis I was certainly flattered but a little sad at the same time. One thing led to another and the role became permanent, and from that time I have loved every minute and haven’t looked back since. I am all in! One thing that was obvious was that my new role would be much less about the numbers and much more about people and customers. As a recovering CFO, I can’t help but think about the numbers (just ask our CFO, Mike Krone!). But the CEO role is mostly about putting our employees and our customers in the best possible position to be successful.
Supporting employee growth and focusing on how we develop talent was something I certainly thought about as a CFO, but primarily for the Finance team. Now, it’s a major focus of what I do for the entire organization. I find myself working with and connecting with team members at all levels of Deltek, to help me understand how we can continue to evolve and improve the employee experience within our organization. It is an essential part of the collaborative culture that we’ve built at Deltek.
I did spend time with our customers as a CFO, but in a different way – meeting with CFOs and CIOs and speaking with them as a user of our products, and engaging around things like sharing best practices. Deltek has always been invested in customer success and, as a result, meeting and engaging with customers generally has a very positive outcome. There are times that our customers run into challenges with our solutions, but the way we respond clearly demonstrates that we are the right partner to ensure they are successful. They are very appreciative of our approach in that regard. My conversations have evolved from talking dollars and cents to talking about how we can collaborate together and how Deltek can be the best partner for our customers. So that is something I spend much more time doing now, and it’s one of the things I love most about my job.
As you said you are “all in” as CEO, but what keeps you at Deltek year after year?
Our people, our customers and our growth! We have some of the best and brightest working here, which makes it a great working environment.
And our customers are amazing – they do some pretty incredible things. They have a commitment to the world of projects that is truly transforming the world we live in. It’s exciting and gratifying to be a small part of what our customers do and to enable so many different industries and types of projects.
Another thing that I love about Deltek is that we’ve always stayed true to who we are as a company. Because we are project-focused, we have the ability to deliver industry-specific solutions at scale in a way others can’t. It truly is a differentiator for us when looking at our competitors, who only offer a more “generic ERP” viewpoint or don’t have the complete set of resources we do to support the specific needs of our customers. Entering a new industry isn’t as easy as slapping a new name on an existing product and declaring that it can support how those businesses work. It takes specific focus and engagement with industry leaders to develop and deliver the specific solutions they need, like we did with our Vantagepoint solution, for example. We have clear plans to continue to evolve our entire product portfolio to support project-based best practices and technology trends. We also have clear plans for the future to acquire when we need to in order to broaden our product portfolio and reach. And, in the end, our customers win with this approach – they get the best that exists and the best we organically create. We get better every year and I love being a part of that.
You mentioned that developing talent is key to the CEO role. How do you approach that?
It’s my responsibility as CEO to get the best team in place. I put a lot of time and care into ensuring we are building the right talent base across the business, top to bottom! We carefully select our leaders at all levels of the business so we are certain they will build the right team in each area. We have said for a long time that “brilliant jerks don’t make it at Deltek.” If you have leaders that fit in that category, they’ll just hire more brilliant jerks. That is not sustainable or aligned with our high-performance culture. Ideally, we want to hire the best people who can successfully and collaboratively work across the organization – that is a key to our success.
Once we have the right talent in place, it is critical to continuing developing those employees. Continuing education and constant learning is something we invest heavily in for our employees. We have developed a true culture of learning over the past few years that includes providing access to programs like LinkedIn Learning – for every employee – and content like that can go a long way in helping people reach their goals, both personally and professionally.
We also ask employees to commit to spending at least 40 hours of their year on personal growth – and they can do that a number of ways. Personally, I accomplish that by trying to read about trends in technology and leadership, in particular when I’m on an airplane and can disconnect for a bit. The last book I read was by our friend Mike Robbins, an incredible thought leader who teaches organizations like ours how to infuse authenticity and leadership into being a successful business.
Finally, what is something you have learned in your career that you would pass on as advice to others?
The best piece of advice I have to give anyone – my daughters, our Deltek team, people I mentor – is to make sure you love what you do and who you do it with. At the end of the day, you have to get something out of any job above and beyond a paycheck, and you have to buy into the company’s vision and want to be a part of the team that is focused on delivering it. You have to love what you do – because you have to get up and do it every day. Five, ten years down the road, you don’t want to look back and feel like you have wasted your time on something you weren’t passionate about and didn’t believe in.
This is advice I try to live by. I love being the CEO at Deltek. We have built something special the last 10 years and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it – through all the peaks and valleys! I want to thank our global team for an amazing 10 years – it has been my privilege to be part of your team. I am also very grateful that our customers have chosen to join us on this incredible journey. They rely on us to help power their project success and that is a responsibility that I know we all take very seriously. I’ve never been more proud of all we have accomplished and excited about the future of Deltek and our future together.
Please join us in congratulating Mike Corkery on his #DecadeOfLeadership at Deltek.
Congratulations and thank you, Mike!
About Mike Corkery
As Deltek's Chief Executive Officer, Michael Corkery is the driving force behind Deltek’s mission of delivering superior enterprise software, information solutions and consulting services to project-based businesses worldwide. Mike leads more than 3,100 employees who serve Deltek’s 30,000 customers across 80 countries around the world.
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