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A First-Time CEO Talks About Lessons Learned in His First Year

Formerly president of a high-tech firm, Alex Lintner talks about how he brushed up on the insurance industry and built relationships with customers.

Alex Lintner is the recently appointed CEO of Vertafore, a tech firm that caters to the insurance industry, with $360 million in revenue and 20,000 global customers. Formerly  president of Intuit Global Business, Lintner is credited with growing IGB from $115 million in revenue in 2008 to $200 million by 2013 and more than doubling profitability during the worst recession in decades. After nine years with the company, Lintner retired, then came out of retirement eight months ago to join Vertafore as CEO. We spoke with Lintner about making the transition into his first CEO role.

“I went on a listening tour visiting 50 customers in 100 days to understand their interest with our assets.”

How did you prepare for the transition from the responsibilities of president to CEO?
“My previous role as president of Intuit Global Business was a good training ground for all things business related. But I reached out to some CEOs of private equity-backed firms and to a friend who runs a portfolio of tech companies for a private equity firm. I spent time understanding the investor side of things, something that wasn’t part of my job at Intuit. Once I arrived, I went on a listening tour visiting 50 customers in 100 days, as well as shareholders, to understand their interest with our assets.”

How did the board get involved in preparing you for your new role?
“My predecessor, Euan Menzies, moved into the vice chairman role, so he was nearby and very engaged. He introduced me to the insurance industry and he joined me for two-thirds of the customer visits. Before and after the customer conversations, he helped me interpret what I saw and heard. Our specific vertical was new to me. Euan was the person who mentored me into that market segment and into the CEO role. i asked him a lot of basic questions about what to do and how he operated his business. He has been a great thought partner to me and that still remains today.”

Do you have any mentors outside the company that you turn to for advice?
“Intuit’s current CEO Brad Smith and prior CEO Steve Bennett are my mentors. i talk to them every 4-6 weeks. They talk me through situations and help me prioritize my time. Running a business has a lot to do with people. Some people situations I haven’t encountered before, and they give me their point of view.”

About Lynn Russo Whylly

Lynn Russo Whylly