Behind the career: Mike Corkery

February 24, 2013

Position: Chief executive of Deltek, a Herndon company that provides software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors. (Deltek provides content for Capital Business).

Corkery has led financial operations at various telecom companies, including AT&T and Nextel during its merger with Sprint. As chief financial officer at Deltek, he led the company through three acquisitions in nine months and will now lead the company as chief executive.

How have you grown as a leader over the years?

It was the late ’80s and early ’90s when I first started managing people in public accounting. I’m a much better listener than I was then. Everyone on your team is not you. Everyone has a different way of succeeding. The best leaders find ways to put really good people in positions to succeed — and succeed their way not your way. You have to listen and observe to do that.

You say that one of your greatest strengths is assembling good teams. What’s your secret?

Chemistry is important. And it doesn’t mean you hire people who are exactly the same as everyone else on the team. They have to be complementary and add the right mix. You have to create different dynamics that allow the team to be as effective as possible.

Anything else?

Know what you’re looking for so when you see it, you’ll know. If you don’t, you may see it and not realize it.

How did you manage three acquisitions in nine months?

There was a mantra we had internally, “Progress over precision.” Know what’s important. Know the value drivers that will make the acquisitions succeed. Know them, choose them, make progress against them.

If you’re buying a company, there’s a lot of things you can be focused on. You can be focused on changing the signage on the building and swapping everyone’s business cards, or I can focus on things that will be valuable in the eyes of our customers. Those are the things we would prioritize and be laser focused on. The rest of the unimportant stuff, we’ll have time to take care of that. The things that are critical, that will make an acquired company integrate the right way and make us successful and have us achieve our objectives — whatever those two three or four things are, stay manically focused on those.

— Interview by Vanessa Small

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