Q & A With Dean Hager, The New CEO Of JAMF Software




Dean Hager was named CEO of JAMF Software last month, replacing the founding duo and co-leaders Chip Pearson and Zach Halmstad.

How did you first experience technology and what has been your professional journey to this point?

It was 1983 when I took a computer science class in the 10th grade back in my small southern Minnesota hometown.   I taught myself some basic programming and experimented first with games.  I fell in love with it and then became a computer science and math major.

After college, I worked at IBM for almost a decade and then went to Lawson Software where I spent 14 years in just about every executive capacity possible, other than CEO.

When Lawson was acquired by Infor Global I moved to Kroll Ontrack as their CEO. On my 25th ‘workaversery’ I decided to leave Kroll and take a sabbatical. I knew that if I were to join another tech company, it had to be something special, and when the JAMF opportunity came, it was just that.

What is special to you about JAMF?  

It hit all the checkboxes on my list.  First of all, JAMF is an innovative company with really compelling solutions. My first computer was an Apple and I probably have more Apple devices than anyone I know. I’m really excited to be part of a company that is focused on helping organizations use Apple products.

I also enjoy that fact that the company is still founder owned and operated and that it’s a growth company. We are grounded in values and culture. And the customers love us.

How would you summarize company’s purpose?

We exist to help organizations succeed with Apple, in short. Specifically on Apple deployment via Casper and management with Bushel.  As gratifying as Apple’s products are, the deployment/management of devices is a pain that we alleviate.

What segment is the most lucrative for these products right now?

We serve several industries well: education, tech enterprise, and advertising/pr —  in that order.

What are your top goals as the new CEO?

I was hired 13 years after this company began, to grow with JAMF through the teenage years.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Transparent and communicative.  I’m a big proponent of the recent book “Return on Character”.  The premise is that leaders who practice the character traits of integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion will have the most success. I do my best to try and adopt those traits.

What is your strategy for growth?

It’s too early for me to talk about that as I haven’t laid out my view of the strategy yet.  I’m still assessing and learning a lot before rolling out my vision or making any changes.

Do you see liquidity in the near future?

Well, there’s no contingency around it as I’ve personally met with our investors.  Their primary objective is healthy growth that leads to a return, whether that be 3 years, 5 years, 7 years – whenever. They are confident that opportunities will emerge.

What does healthy growth mean to you?

It means that the company doesn’t get compromised along the way. JAMF has grown, up until now, with a very straightforward goal: to build great solutions and serve the customer with a passion.  That requires fiscal responsibility.

Speaking of finances, where is the company at on revenues?

We don’t disclose that publicly.

Do you anticipate any growth through acquisition?

It’s always on the table but is nothing that we are actively considering at this moment. There may be potential but I think the predominant growth will come organically.

What market friction stands between you and such growth?

The flooding of MDM (mobile device management) providers, predominantly for phones.  It’s a growing market but we also find that space is challenging to differentiate relative to some other areas.

Why the move from the Grain Exchange to Washington Square building?

If you came to see us at the Grain Exchange building you would know why.  We are outgrowing it.  When I took the job, there were 425 employees and we will be at or over 500 by the end of this year.

What are the differences between the Eau Claire office and the headquarters in Minneapolis?

The heritage of our Eau Claire office is technical R&D, which has expanded into customer support. The majority of the operations side is here in Minneapolis.  We’re about evenly split in terms of headcount.

What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry?

JAMF is like a Silicon Valley style company with Midwest values and there are some really interesting local players alongside JAMF in terms of their status.  More recently, I think that Minneapolis is being looked at closer in terms of our tech companies.  It feels like it’s emerging.

But…are there enough people to staff the necessary jobs for companies like JAMF and the many others?  Availability of resources can be tricky, although generally there is more loyalty to be found here.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Even though I’m the CEO now at JAMF, both Chip and Zach will continue to be active contributors to this company.


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