Q&A Interview with Volaris’ Education Group Leader
We sat down with Michael Borello, Education Group Leader, to learn about his story and experience in the Education industry. In this interview, Borello also highlights what companies in the Education space can expect post-acquisition at Volaris Group.
How did you get your start working in Education?
MB: Shortly after graduating college, I started working for a company called Valuation Resource Management which focused on fixed asset appraisal services and risk management appraisal services. A big component of their market was school districts. I spent the first three years of my career travelling to school districts across the country as an Appraisal Project Manager. By 2001, I was the Regional Manager of the Pittsburg area.
When did your career at Volaris Group begin?
MB: In 2001, Valuation Resource Management was sold to a company named Maximus Asset Solutions. I continued my role at Maximus and eventually took over East Coast operations, still within the school district vertical. After a few years, I was promoted to a new role as VP of Asset Services, a subdivision of Maximus. Fast forward to 2008, Maximus sold the Asset Solutions business to Volaris Group and turned into three divisions of AssetWorks. I was the Vice President at AssetWorks Risk Management business for 10+ years and responsible for all areas of the fixed asset software and appraisal services division.
When did you begin your current position as Group Leader at Volaris?
MB: Throughout my time as Vice President for AssetWorks’ Risk Management division, I helped with the acquisition of three companies. As our portfolio began to grow and take shape, we decided to shift our focus to acquiring Education technology companies. My experience acquiring companies in adjacent markets, gave me the tools I needed to be a successful Group Leader at Volaris for our Education vertical.
How did you decide to focus on M&A in the Education space?
MB: Throughout my career, the Education industry was something that I really understood. I’ve worked with school district business managers for over 20 years and have been able to build a lot of connections in the industry. I had a few temporary roles within Volaris including overseeing a company that was focused on school district transportation, so I was able to learn more about the market that way as well. After doing some research in this space, we learned that there were a lot of great software companies serving special education students, which is where we got our start.
What is your favorite part of the M&A process?
MB: My favorite part about the M&A process is that it’s a relationship based role. I enjoy getting to meet new people in the industry, and even if we do not move forward in our M&A process, I still maintain those relationships.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
MB: A typical workday includes a lot of analysis of companies in the Education space, conversations with deals that are moving forward, and coordinating the M&A efforts of our team.
In one word, describe what Volaris Group means to you.
MB: Focused. When Volaris decides it’s going to go a direction, it’s going to go in that direction. Of course, there’s a lot of thought that is put into what that focus is going to be, but once it’s established, you can count on it to happen.
What is the best part about your job?
MB: I enjoy the autonomy that I have as a Group Leader. I’m able to make decisions for my group based on my knowledge and experience in the industry.
What is the post-acquisition process like for a company in the Education vertical?
MB: In the first six weeks, we work on integrating finances, human resources, and other key business areas into Volaris Group. From there, it becomes very strategic in how we are going to focus on growth for the organizations that we have acquired.
What are the benefits of an Education company joining Volaris Group?
MB: Our secret sauce is that we put a lot of effort into understanding the vertical market software companies we pursue. As an outsider, we can find patterns that sometimes smaller organizations don’t see because they are running the day-to-day operations. In the Education industry specifically, we have a network of similar companies that new organizations can work with and exchange ideas and best practices. This gives our companies the ability to share both success and failures to learn from each other. They can then apply these concepts to their business.
How does Volaris Group support organic growth?
MB: The trick to achieving organic growth is to understand the market and who the other players are in the space. You then need to understand what areas of the market your company can be successful in. We help new businesses in our group define their target market and focus their resources and marketing efforts to meet the needs of this market. Another key piece is that we really understand how powerful a strong customer base can be. There’s a lot of opportunity for organic growth within that customer base without selling a new system to anybody.
How does Volaris Group support marketing efforts?
MB: The biggest step that any Volaris company has taken over the last nine years has been marketing. Prior to 2012, AssetWorks did not have a lot of marketing support. We ended up hiring very talented people in marketing to not only grow the AssetWorks brand but bring more value to the companies we would acquire. That’s one of the key pieces where we immediately can bring a marketing strategy to the table for newly acquired businesses.