We caught up with Jeff MacKinnon, Jonas Software’s CFO, to talk about his career progression, His role at Jonas, Our ABCs, and more!

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Career Progession Stories Interview Transcript


My name is Jeff MacKinnon. I’m the chief financial officer at the Jonas operating group. I look after the financials across the globe. I deal with our teams in the UK, Australia, Latin America, Canada, and North America. I Also, I have responsibility for our legal teams and our tax team. I’ve been with the business for just over 10 years now.

Prior to joining Jonas, I had a background in accounting. I’m a chartered accountant, which is what we called it back then, CPA now. I graduated from the University of Waterloo, and I’ve had a number of years of progressive experience in financial roles and a few operational roles as well. I’ve really had the benefit of working in a number of different industries, from service industries, retail manufacturing, and most recently I spent, a number of years with Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation before joining Jonas in 2013.

A typical day in the life of a CFO, particularly at Jonas does not exist. There is no such thing as typical, which is one of the things that I love the most about this organization. There is a constant amount of change and opportunity to learn.  Obviously, in a public company setting, we have the traditional financial reporting deadlines that we need to meet, so there are some routine elements of just reporting actual results and forecasting future results of the business. But, beyond that, when you’re in an environment that’s as acquisitive as ours, I’m constantly looking at new acquisition potentials, speaking to new individuals, Understanding new markets and geographies they play in. There’s always something that’s constantly changing, so I wouldn’t say there really is anything that you would describe as typical.

What I enjoy most about my role, can I only say one thing? I’ll say a few.  The first place I start with is, and it sounds cliche, but it is 100 percent true, are the people. It’s what attracted me to Jonas in the first place in 2013. I was very impressed by the people that I interviewed with.  Not only from a knowledge perspective, they obviously were very smart individuals and had been doing this for quite a period of time, but there was a certain amount of humility and humbleness that really struck a chord with me. I think that’s super important in an organization like ours because one of our key fundamental differences is our ability to learn from one another. I firmly believe that only happens when you have a humble approach to life because it leaves you open to learning from others. So, people is number one. Number two is it’s great to be part of a winning team. Success is wonderful. It’s way better than losing and obviously the Constellation and Jonas model has proven to be super successful over the years. So that’s number two. Number three, I guess just that constant change and ability to learn each and every single day really keeps me going.

What makes me want to stay after 10 years is it comes back to those things that I really enjoy. I just think the prospects for this organization continue to look so rosy in terms of opportunities ahead of us. We know our investment in emerging in M& A is bearing fruits and the number of targets that we have to pursue is significant. We also continue to find great roles for new people, so the prospect of continuing the journey that we’ve been on and continue to be successful just keeps me going.

So in Jonas, we think about the ABCs being, first of all, A is for autonomy and the way that we run decentralized business operations. B is for our buy and hold forever strategy, and then C is our culture of sharing those practices. For me, you see this day in and day out throughout all of our businesses, at least the start of the beginning,  from an autonomous and decentralized standpoint. We firmly believe that the people that are most able to make impactful decisions for their customers are the people that live closest to those customers. So, we try to make sure that we push as much autonomy and decision-making down through the organization as we possibly can. I always like to say, I, you know, I am not the smartest guy in the world. There’s no way I could ever possibly determine what the next product that we need to build for such and such a company to serve their customers. The people who know that are the people that are in those businesses.  So I see it all as buy and hold forever. We think it’s one of the key selling features of Constellation as a home for vertical market software businesses. We respect the fact that people who have come to Constellation often have built these businesses themselves with their own blood, sweat, tears, money, and equity. They think about their employees as their family. They think about their customers as their family. We respect that, that legacy, and that heritage, and again, we promise not to change those things in the way that others might do. So, again, you know, if you look at the brands listed on the Jonas website, you’ll see very few labeled as Jonas, such and such, right? A lot of them keep their own logos, their own brand, and their own heritage. So we see that all the time. The third is about our culture of sharing best practices. I actually just came out of a session where we inducted a whole bunch of new employees, and it was to start that journey of sharing amongst ourselves. The different businesses, you know, we run a number of different educational sessions throughout the year where we bring businesses together, we’ll put on topics specific to a department, have an R and D summit or, you know, those sorts of things. It is one of the key things that we bring to the market of, you know, coming together. We think we’ve learned a few things at the constellation level, having done over a thousand acquisitions and probably having looked at 10, 000 acquisitions.  Our ability to share that knowledge across all the businesses, we think, really makes each one of them stronger individually.

I think ways we make and maintain a good culture within Jonas; for me, it almost comes back to one of the first points I made around humility, right? And so, from top to bottom throughout the organization, I think you find people that are personable, they’re able to be interacted with on a kind of human-to-human level, right? So that’s from our CEO, all the way down to anybody on the floor, that ability to be open and approachable, I think allows for people to share ideas openly.  To feel like they have a voice to contribute to their day-to-day and ability to make impactful decisions. So that’s in the sort of work elements of things. You know, obviously, work is important, but we also have to play. So, I think, each one of our businesses adapts a little bit differently back to that sort of decentralization and autonomy. Everybody gets to decide what works for them, and whether that means taking the team out to a baseball game.  You know, at the corporate level, one of the things that I’ve done for the last number of years is had a day softball tournament.

What gets me excited about the future of Jonas is in some ways I actually think we’re really just beginning. As successful as Jonas has been in my ten years here, I’ve seen the pace of growth accelerate dramatically. I think in the year that I joined, we completed six acquisitions. This year, we’ll probably complete 24, so it’s a phenomenal amount of growth. But if I pause for a moment, I think about the investments that we continue to make in our business, not only on the acquisition front but also on running the core day-to-day businesses.  I really do think we’re just starting to scratch the surface and that our pace is continuing to grow to acquire new wonderful companies that continue to create great career opportunities for people within the business, to invest in those businesses to create great products and experiences for our customers.  Like I said, I think we are really just at the beginning of what is going to be a great next ten years.

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