President & CEO, Exiger
Michael Beber is the President and CEO of Exiger. A seasoned business leader with decades of experience in the C-Suite of leading multinational corporations, Michael co-founded Exiger with Executive Chairman Michael Cherkasky and serves on its Board of Directors.
My first foray into the governance, risk and compliance space was through forensic accounting. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, I was working on my Chartered Account (CA) designation and had already fulfilled all of my requirements, but needed to complete the remaining six months of work. That’s when I came across forensic and investigative accounting. I remember thinking how exciting that sounded.
The job description included investigating fraud, bribery and corruption – some things Exiger employees do today – and that is how I landed my first job at Lindquist Holmes. The Canadian accounting, litigation and consulting firm became Kroll Lindquist Avey, was acquired by Marsh & McLennan, and eventually sold to Navigant.
When we started the business, my partner, Michael Cherkasky, and I were inspired by the amount of regulatory change happening all around us, from money laundering to sanctions, bribery and corruption. We recognized this was a high growth area that wasn’t going away any time soon – and it hasn’t abated since.
Governance, risk and compliance, specifically financial crime compliance, was also a space where we could introduce advice, technology and tech-enabled solutions to the marketplace to alleviate otherwise extremely human intensive processes. Over the past six years, we’ve used this offering to help the industry move towards more sustainable compliance.
Vision 2023 is the next milestone for Exiger. Last summer we reached the five-year mark and really wanted to accelerate the growth of the business. Concurrently, we took on an $80 million investment from Carrick Capital to support our continued build out and acquisition of technology and tech-enabled solutions.
Vision 2023 is our roadmap to scaling the business to where we want it to be in four years. In progressing towards our objectives, 2019 has been focused on process improvements, technology investment and leadership additions.
When we started Exiger, we wanted to do things differently. We knew the best way to serve our clients was not with the typical consultants, who have spent the majority of their careers in the consulting world. Instead, we’ve worked to build a team of technologists and practitioners with subject matter expertise, and first-hand experience working in the businesses we serve. When clients recognize what differentiates our team and are able to see the value we deliver with better, more efficient outcomes, that is the experience we strike for.
Motivating others can be hard – it varies a lot from person to person. It’s important to try and understand what drives each individual. I ask myself, ‘what makes this person get up in the morning?’
While our software engineers may be most interested in solving technical challenges and working with cutting-edge software, our business development professionals enjoy the thrill of chasing the win. When I’m working with millennials, I find many are motivated by being involved and engaged in business decision-making.
The challenge for me is to continue to create opportunities for all of our employees to lead fulfilling and successful careers within one ecosystem.
When people ask me whether I live to work or work to live, I tend to think they don’t understand what it means to truly love what you’re doing.
To make the most of a career, I encourage everyone to find a business they fundamentally appreciate – one that plays to their areas of interest. In our industry, for example, I advise individuals to look beyond “compliance;” dig in and find out what the role really entails.
Secondly, I suggest people find a growth-oriented organization, one where growth and change are central to the business’s culture. If you’re part of an organization where this is a focus, and you deliver high quality work, then you’re going to come across new opportunities that you never expected were possible.
I would say I am most defined by my ability to think creatively with an open-mind around pretty much anything.
Admittedly, I’m not good with rules, but I’ve used this to my advantage in business. I don’t perceive barriers; Instead, I look at everything in terms of how it can be bent or changed. At work, I am able to objectively understand and evaluate different actions, reactions and consequences, and this allows me to think freely to explore opportunities that others might have overlooked or written-off.
I made a decision early in my life to begin every answer to a question with ‘yes.’ It can be so easy to say ‘no,’ but ‘yes’ can be quite difficult.
In my career, this has helped me stay open to every opportunity and challenge I encounter. I have found that I learn a lot more out of every situation, and am constantly pushing myself to focus on the art of the possible.
I consider my three sons my biggest success. My wife and I were able to raise three accomplished young men, all of which have successfully launched into the world. They are very different from one another, but each is smart, capable and caring with great friends and strong relationships.
About 15 years ago, I made the decision to move my family from Toronto to New York. It was an enormous adjustment for my wife and sons. I often reflect back and wonder if I made the right decision. At the time, my choice to relocate was motivated by the trajectory of my own professional path.
A few years ago, as my last son was headed off to college, I shared this thought with my family. I was pleased to hear that everyone felt it was a positive change. My sons, in particular, saw the value in their dual citizenship and the American college experience.
“Current” passion is the right word for me. As an ADD child and probably an ADD adult, I often love things in the moment, but quickly move on to my next project. Right now it is my home gym. My wife and I recently moved and have a personal gym in our house for the first time, and I am taking full advantage of that.
I’m also working on planning my 60th year of life. More than a birthday, I am going to spend the special year reconnecting with friends and family, travelling and celebrating life.
What do you love most about your city?
My wife and I recently moved to Greenwich, Connecticut, and we absolutely love it. It’s the ultimate combination of urban and suburban living, with a vibrant downtown area filled with restaurants and great retail. I enjoy still being able to walk to the train every morning to head into work. At the same time, you can take in the fresh air, beaches and parks.
What drink gets you through the day?
My drink of choice depends on the day of the week. Monday through Friday, I start my day with a ‘turmeric tiger’ – a blend of turmeric, ginger, lemon, carrot, orange and cayenne pepper. It’s healthy and anti-inflammatory. On my way to work, I always pick up an iced green tea as well.
I used to drink Diet Coke every day, but I reserve it for the weekends now, when I also enjoy a glass of bourbon.
Most used app?
Honestly, the app I use most on my phone is the Metro-North Train Time one to track my train schedule on weekdays.
What should everyone try at least once?
Everyone should take the opportunity to go on a real canoe trip once in their life. This was a passion for me for many years. There is something about gathering everything you need and pushing off from the shore, knowing you’re not going to be back for five or six days.