Corporate Insight CEO Michael Ellison sees geographic and industry growth for his firm

Mike Ellison has some expansion thoughts on his mind. (Corporate Insight)

After focusing primarily on the financial services industry for 26 years, Corporate Insight CEO Michael Ellison wants to take the company deeper into other areas, like healthcare and higher education.

Ellison is also interested in geographic growth, into Canada and “other international opportunities,” he told FierceCEO. He plans to double the business in three to five years.

The new locations and industries Ellison is interested in would use the model Corporate Insight does for financial institutions. The company provides research, competitive intelligence, consulting and user experience (UX) data.

“We help our customers understand how their services compare to their competitors' and provide insight into how they can improve the experience for their own customers,” Ellison said.

Corporate Insight is working amid a friendlier environment for banks right now.

In recent years, financial institutions have been involved with compliance. “It’s turning into a new regulatory environment that has eased considerably,” Ellison said. “Now [financial institutions] are looking at ways to give to their clients by using technology.”

Ellison’s biggest challenge is hiring the right people and with that, having the right culture. “We want to shape the right culture to bring in new people when they find it an interesting and compelling place,” Ellison said.

At the same time, “We are selective,” Ellison said.

He looks for curiosity, drive and whether the candidate is personable.

When working beside him, “I am someone who can select a vision, but not micromanage,” Ellison said.

The way he puts the vision in action is by hiring managers who can execute on it.

“You can’t build a business by doing everything on your own,” Ellison said.

Ellison is the son of Corporate Insight’s founder, Peter Ellison, who started the company in 1992. Ellison came into what was a small consulting firm in 1997 as “basically his first hire” with the desire to grow the firm.

His first task was developing e-Monitor, one of the first services to track and evaluate the brokerage industry’s use of the internet as a vehicle for customer interaction. Previously, Ellison was an analyst and software developer at Dealogic PLC. He began his career as a performance measurement analyst at Informa Investment Solutions.

Fast Five with Michael Ellison

What is your favorite question when conducting an interview?

If I hired you and we met in a year, what would have had to happen for you to feel you’ve been successful?

What keeps you up at night?

How to grow the company.

What is key to revenue growth?

Listen to your customer. Look where there are pain points in the areas you serve and be open to new ideas.

How do you motivate employees?

Don’t micromanage them. Let them figure out how to solve challenges.

When have you had to adapt and what did you learn?

In 2008, 2009, during the financial crisis there was so much turmoil, but we learned you stick with your customers.