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Thomas Cowan Biography

Tom Cowan is Associate Director of Innovation and Design at Columbia University. This follows a career building software companies and working for IBM.

Tom has carved out a role as a technology CEO/Entrepreneur creating value through Execution. His market depth is Enterprise Software, centered on Mobile enablement, Big Data analytics, and SaaS delivery.

Even with outstanding innovation, winning requires a complementary and equal focus on execution. Tom’s focus is on sharp-edged, practical methods for business execution—he develops them, uses them, and writes about them.

At Decisyon, a SaaS/cloud BI company with a first of its kind collaborative data integration and analytics platform, Tom served on the Board (2012-2014) and as CEO (2011 to 2013)—playing a lead role in structuring the company’s governance, raising $15M in “A” round funding, and expanding the market reach from Italy into the US and across Europe.

At Vcommerce, a pioneer developer of e-commerce software, Tom served as CEO/COO/CFO (2000-2001), leading a critical restructuring that doubled revenue and dramatically increased customer satisfaction. Turnaround accomplished, he left the company but returned later at the request of the majority investor to become Chairman of the Board and CEO. During this period (2007-2009) he led a successful management change, Board restructuring, and strategic merger with Channel Intelligence, thus establishing the basis for later acquisition by Google.

As Chairman and CEO (2001-2004) of OutlookSoft, a leading developer of business performance software, Tom led a key acquisition, expanded into global markets, and increased revenue ten-fold—positioning the company for its 2007 acquisition by SAP. Known today as SAP BPC, the OutlookSoft platform is one of SAP’s best-selling products.

Tom has also served on the Boards of SMTC Corporation (NASDAQ:SMTX; 2004-2010); Wake Forest University (2004-2005); Tagetik, Inc. (2001-2004); PGA.com (1999-2000); NHL.com (1999-2000); the Entertainment Industry Digital Rights Task Group (1999-2000); and Tivoli Systems (1996-1997). He has chaired Audit, Compensation, Governance, and Nominating Committees. He has also been Executive in Residence at RockRidge Capital Partners (2004-2006).

His career includes two decades at IBM (1977-2000), starting in Finance and moving to CFO and GM roles.

Tom is currently Associate Director of Innovation and Design at Columbia University in the School of Professional Studies (Dec 2015-present) working on advanced technical degrees, entrepreneurship, and strategy. This follows his transitioning out of the CEO role at modomodo (2013-Nov 2015), a SaaS mobile application development platform company moving to the U.S. market after a successful start in Europe.

Tom is the author of From Idea to Business, Business Basics, and Leadership Basics. He holds a B.A. in Economics from Wake Forest University and an MBA from the University of South Carolina. He lives with his family in Connecticut and Arizona.