Jim Casella's Blogs

Jim Casella's Blog

Jim Casella is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Asset International, having joined the company as part of Austin Ventures' acquisition in January 2009. Jim has been a partner with Austin Ventures the past several years, serving as CEO-in-Residence for their Growth/Private Equity practice and focusing on business-to-business media opportunities.

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Asset International continues to grow through organic growth of our core businesses and brands as well as through acquisition. As we expand, it remains important that the senior management team continues to provide a culture that allows both individuals and teams to perform at a high level and deliver on the goals we have established for the company. Several years ago I wrote in a column, Corporate Culture: "Those of us who look to acquire companies and refocus them need to understand their corporate cultures. If we are to be successful in putting them on a new growth trajectory, we also need to understand where they went off course. We should not accept the excuses of entrenched management teams or boards for their recent failures. We should rigorously seek out the team members that can help re-establish a culture that once gave them a swagger within their sector. A friend of mine sent me a quote from an ESPN anchor, 'pressure is a privilege.' I believe that this can be applied to both sports and business."

 

The executive leadership team needs to set an example through their actions. They need to make themselves available to clients on a global basis, and to constantly demonstrate through product innovation that they understand the needs of all of our clients. Mid-market companies often do not have the skills on their bench to reach their growth goals and must go outside to recruit talent. Retained executive search firms can be of great assistance in this process, but they need to work closely with the responsible executive and the Human Resources team to understand both the company's culture and the goals that will be put in place for the individual who will be joining the team. I have found, over the years, that the more team members that get involved in the interview process, the greater chance that, together with the search executive, you will come up with someone that will be able to produce (after an initial onboarding period).

 

Communication during the search process and after the hire is essential to make certain that the new team member understands that there is a culture in place to help them succeed. One of the major roles of the CEO and the Board of Directors is to make certain that the resources are in place to allow divisions to reach the stated growth objectives of the company.

 

Finally, we need to empower the talent at all levels of our company to make decisions as close to the client as possible. In other words, do not make decisions without understanding the market needs of your existing client base. You must also never underestimate your competition. Your best competitors are those who provide you with the greatest challenge. They help to elevate your game and to ensure that you will never take your clients as a given. Each day we need to earn the right to serve our clients' business needs.

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