In making the leap from traditional senior management to starting Internet companies on the West Coast, Howard Koenig said both traditional and creative business skills helped him to succeed.
"As the CEO of a startup, you have to be a utility player," Koenig says. "I think the University at Buffalo School of Management provides a good, solid, well-rounded MBA program."
When he started employeelife.com in 2001, Koenig not only needed to know marketing, finance and accounting, but also how to combine skills and think outside the box. Within 18 months, the company, which sells systems that allow employees to access their benefits and purchase insurance online, had been sold to a larger insurance firm that wanted to add online services.
"Investors and management made a lot of money," Koenig recalls. "Everybody had a quick exit because we built a real company that was highly valued."
Koenig's other technology ventures started after the tech bubble burst, but he said that good products can sell in any business climate. "We had a philosophy that real companies and a real business model will survive and thrive," he says of online marketing firm Responsys and software subscription firm Citadon. Koenig helped start both companies and served as CEO for each.
While he learned an important combination of skills at the UB School of Management, Koenig says that if he had to do it over again, he would work for a few years before getting his MBA.
"My suggestion would be to get a real job, a real function in a big company to see how big companies work," Koenig says. "From there you can decide what you like to do and where you can add the most value."
Koenig joined Auruspex as CEO from France-based Sword Group [NYSE Euronext: SWP], where he headed up North American operations and strategic acquisitions for the global software provider. Auruspex is the only company solely focused on strategic workforce planning software.
The Howard D. Koening Interviewing Room in the Frank L. Ciminelli Family Career Resource Center is used by students and prospective employers for practice and real-world job interviewing.