Q: What is your role at Netgain?
Jim: I am a Client Services Solution Architect at Netgain.
Q. What does your day-to-day typically look like?
Jim: My days are very dynamic. My primary role is supporting our CPA vertical sales team with technical expertise, design, and solution quoting. Also, since many of our CPA clients are in Microsoft Azure, I spend time working in Azure; from keeping up with the many enhancements of existing features, to new services and innovation being introduced to the Azure ecosystem.
Q: What’s unique about the CPA tech industry that someone in mainstream tech may not experience?
Jim: The CPA vertical has very predictable ebbs and flows of staffing brought on by tax filing deadlines that other industries don’t. It is not unusual for a CPA firm to grow staffing by 20% or more during the “busy season” of tax return preparation from January – April. There is usually a ramp up in December, and by the middle of April those staff members are exiting the firm, which adds a significant technical burden in a 4-month timeframe. Adding to the “busy season” for CPA firms, there are also extension deadlines in September and October, so one finds that the availability window for technology projects to be implemented is extremely compressed.
Q: How has Netgain’s technical approach changed now that cloud-based solutions are so popular among CPA firms?
Jim: Once our clients achieve their goal of being in the cloud, they start to realize the benefits of that move. For instance, most of our clients are outsourcing work to different parts of the globe. We design and implement secure environments with the appropriate data access to support that growth and staffing model. We also design safe environments for our clients to onboard newly acquired firms after an M&A transaction. This reduces risk of security issues and increases capacity of IT when the workload of an acquisition creates bottlenecks in the workflows.
Q: What security trends are you seeing impact CPA firms?
Jim: Employees are no longer tethered to a company-owned device only while in a corporate office to do their work. Staff can, and are, working from anywhere an internet connection is available, so security must be a multi-faceted, layered approach taking into consideration all the diverse types of devices and connections one can now use to access resources. Computer logons with a strong username, password combination, and antivirus alone no longer “check the security box”. Adding to the working from anywhere paradigm, many firms are now integrating outsourced return processing and/or assurance staff. Many of these outsourced firms are overseas and having secure, well managed, with lower-latency access to applications is top priority.
Q: What has been your experience working at Netgain?
Jim: In my 14 years at Netgain, I have experienced years of fast-paced growth and have been continually challenged to keep up with the ever-changing technical and security landscape. Netgain has provided me the opportunity to work with many different clients and teammates. I’ve enjoyed the ability to work cross-functionally with the other teams at Netgain. They’re always happy to teach me a thing or two along the way, helping me develop my technical prowess and personal development.
Q: When you aren’t working, what might we find you doing?
Jim: You will usually find me at my kids’ lacrosse or soccer games. I also spend much of the short Minnesota summer camping and outdoors enjoying all the activities that Minnesota’s 10,000+ lakes provide.
Q: What is a fun fact that people might not know about you?
Jim: In college I worked at a pawn shop buying and selling all kinds of things! It was the best job for a college student ever. Employees would get first pick of all the nice stuff that was purchased and for a fraction of the retail price!
Q. Tell us a little bit about why you chose Netgain and the career growth you’ve experienced here.
Jim: I first heard about Netgain because I actually worked in IT for a Netgain client many years ago. I built great relationships with the staff at Netgain during that time and liked the culture Netgain had, specifically when it came to the consistent integrity and respect that they had for others. Netgain presented itself as a growth opportunity to me and reflecting on my observations of how I had been treated as a prior Netgain client, I felt that I would be joining a positive culture. When I made the official move to Netgain, I started out managing the field services team. Over the years, I’ve also held roles in professional services as a senior engineer doing project work and assisted with technical account management before moving to the solution architect role. The opportunity to work cross-functionally allowed me to really immerse myself in the culture and be exposed to a new level of growth in my career.
Q: Finally, what advice do you have for prospective Netgain candidates?
Jim: Netgain affords the opportunity to learn about many different technologies and clients, so prepare to come aboard with curiosity and desire to grow.
Q: What values of Netgain do you most align with and why?
Jim: I align my daily interactions with Relationships and Responsibility. I have always believed in the “Golden Rule” – Treat others as you would like to be treated. It’s a simple statement, and if you follow that guideline, strong relationships and responsibility are inherently built by following through and doing what you said you were going to do.
Q: What excites you the most when you think of the future and achievements of Netgain that are to come?
Jim: The thing that excites me the most is the increased adoption of public cloud within many organizations, expanding Netgain’s partnership with Microsoft Azure. Azure opens the door for both smaller firms and larger firms to quickly and easily deploy leading edge technology. Smaller firms will be able to produce more output with less staff by leveraging technology like Artificial Intelligence, process automation, and modernizing their applications. Larger firms can benefit from the ability to quickly pivot and scale their cloud-based environment for activities like mergers and acquisitions. I see Netgain being the name CPA firms think of when they need help navigating their Azure implementations or management of existing Azure infrastructure.
Thank you, Jim, for all that you do for Netgain and our clients!