Kevin Morgan’s Perspective On Navigating Success

We caught up with Kevin Morgan, Chief Investment Officer at Jonas Software UK, to talk about his career progression, navigating success at Jonas, our ABCs, and more!

What was your career background prior to joining Jonas?

Out of school, I qualified as an accountant in the UK. I then took some time out, went travelling and returned to RSM, a global audit and accounting firm. As an audit manager at RSM, my first introduction to Constellation was a Volaris acquisition called Trapeze. I spent a few years in Boston working for RSM on cross-border tech audits, which was a continuation of my focus on tech-oriented businesses. Then, in 2012, when Jonas came to the UK, I was approached by Farley Noble – a contact of mine and a previous client. He asked me to help set up the Jonas UK finance team, so I came back from Boston to the UK to help in that journey.

Can you describe your career progression since joining the team?

I’ve probably done most things in our business. I started in a finance role, doing management accounting, bookkeeping, audits, and other internal financial reporting. I also supported due diligence on some of our UK acquisitions. After some time, I was given an opportunity that demonstrates one of the key benefits of working in an organization like ours. After my finance role, I was able to work as the general manager for one of our businesses, London and Zurich. From there, I became the Managing Director of that business and then built a portfolio of businesses. From 2016, all the way through to the end of 2022, the portfolio we built grew to a total of eight businesses spread across the UK, the US, and Sweden. We grew the portfolio to about 200 people, across that six-year span.

I was fortunate to gain that exposure in M&A and the operations of a vertical market software business, which is the type of experience you don’t necessarily get in a finance role.

Since the beginning of January 2023, I’ve come back full circle to full-time M&A. Today, I’ve come back to where I started. I’m responsible for our UK M&A activity, the business and corporate development activities, deal valuation and structuring, due diligence, and early-stage integration. This is one of the key things we can do as an organization – creating opportunities for people who want to go and experience different things. There isn’t one right path. The only right path is the one that’s right for you, and I think Jonas has many different paths because of our decentralized approach.

What has been a particularly memorable achievement you’ve had at Jonas?

One of the things I’m most proud of is giving other people the opportunity to experience different things like I was able to. I think of a particular member of my team who has followed a pretty similar path to me. She had come into a finance role and is looking to take an operational role in the future, but she identified that she was lacking the kind of operational experience that would allow her to do that. So, she’s come into my team to support M&A, but also gets involved in diligence and integration as a stepping stone to begin thinking about the kind of operational skill sets that would allow for success on that side of our business. I think that’s probably one of my most memorable achievements: being able to support people in developing their career paths and expanding their knowledge.

How has Jonas helped you continue to develop your career path?

In our organization, glass ceilings don’t exist. I think we’re very fortunate that, because of our decentralized approach, there are a myriad of opportunities in every part of our organization.

We are able to provide people with a path that suits them. For example, in my professional practice days, there was a very clear path and everyone tried to follow that path. In contrast, we create multiple paths for people depending on their preferences, stage of life, and other factors. For those who want to take that opportunity and develop, I don’t think there is a better place to be.

What’s the most interesting lesson you have learned from working in VMS?

The most interesting lesson I’ve learned is the power of personal relationships and the importance of really understanding that people buy from people.

Customers have a lot of choices in which software they choose, but at the end of the day, people buy from people. In every interaction, every opportunity, there is a chance for us to stand out. I didn’t really know or understand that before I joined this organization. Now it’s front and centre of everything that we do. It’s one of our key differentiators when we work with companies and even between portfolios.

A great example of this is a recently completed acquisition of a pretty horizontal software tool. They win because of their relationships, its people, and the passion they have inside that business.

In your opinion, what makes Jonas a great home for vertical market software companies? 

I’ve got quite a long list if I’m honest… I think the first thing to say is that our organization has some of the most talented and experienced people in vertical market software globally. Being part of our organization gives you access to that, whether it’s best practices, or networking through the events that we hold. When I talk to prospects and vendors, they often discuss a challenge or problem they’re facing. The chances are that somewhere in our organization, we’ve encountered it before. Someone in our business has figured out what to do and what not to do. We get to leverage that all day, every day. I do sometimes feel it’s a bit unfair that we have that advantage and nobody else does; there is no one else in the world that has 1,500+ vertical market software businesses that you can learn from. This really does heighten the learning and the speed at which we can learn, grow, and develop.

The other main point is that, as an owner of a VMS company, you can take some chips off the table. You can create a liquidity event for yourself and the shareholders, but you also get to continue to run your business. So, because of that decentralized approach, because of the autonomy that we have and allow in our businesses. I think it’s the best of both worlds.

How does Jonas set up acquired companies for success? 

We have touched on some of these points in the previous questions, but I think an additional point to add is that we work to invest in a team and business on a long-term basis.

Our advantage over many other acquirers is that we truly look across that forever time horizon so we can make the right long-term decision. Whether investing in a new market, a new product, or a new team, we can remove those short-term cash headaches that an owner-operator might have.

How does Jonas foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing among its employees and business units? 

Having operated 1,500+ VMS businesses, there’s not much in the VMS space we haven’t already seen. We often know the right answer, so you can shortcut that learning process. Our collaboration and knowledge sharing are absolutely a part of that. Examples of this would be events like Jonas GROW’s, which create opportunities to network, share best practices and ideate with hundreds of people who face the same challenges as you day in and day out. At a corporate level, we have those opportunities, but it also comes down a layer into our day to day activities and network.

I think the other thing worth touching on is our structure. We have a role called Group Director. A Group Director is responsible for the operational performance of their portfolio, which typically consists of four to ten companies. They may or may not be in the same vertical, but regardless, people get to interact and ask questions. In doing so, there are always tangential things that they can learn from. All day, every day, that best practice and knowledge sharing happens just through our structure. It happens in everything that we do, whether it’s a formal event or an informal one that connects people.

What gets you excited about Jonas’ future?

From an external perspective, what excites me the most is the knowledge that we’ve only just scratched the surface. Today, we own 1,500+ VMS businesses across Constellation, and there are many, many more out there. So, I believe the opportunity over the next decade or two continues to be in front of us.

The other thing that really excites me is the talent we’re bringing into the group across all sorts of different roles. We now have a lot of young, talented, bright individuals joining our group.

If you own a software business, we would love to learn more about your company. Feel free to reach out and learn more.

Thank you, Kevin, for sharing your story with us. Looking for a successful career like Kevin’s? Learn how you can join the family at Jonas Software by clicking the button below

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