Mike Burgett – Founder & Executive Advisor, CIO Partners

With over 25 years of experience in the technology sector, Mike Burgett brings a wealth of hands-on experience to his global clients and to his local community. Clients and colleagues cite his ability to build solid, sound relationships and process-oriented approach as his hallmark qualities of success.

Prior to founding CIO Partners, Mike was the CIO for RTM Incorporated, a $1 billion Fortune 500 organization. There, he led technology services from an operational perspective and was able to customize and implement a process-based approach and customer service within a corporate IT organization. Mike began his career as a systems engineer with the global technology consulting company Electronic Data Systems (EDS). As a technology consultant within the automotive engineering and manufacturing industry for General Motors, he honed his technical ability and developed a strong sense toward process and project management that defines him to this day.

Mike is an active volunteer with Kidz2Leaders, which provides mentorship, training, and programs for at-risk teens. He is also a member of Roundtable CEOs, a faith-based organization of CEOs and entrepreneurs. His other entrepreneurial endeavors include Talentric®, The National CIO Review®, CxO Professional Networks, and Burgett Enterprises, LLC. His companies have been recognized multiple times as an Atlanta Business Chronicle Best Place to Work, and as a five-time honoree on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. All corporate entities tithe 10% of company profits to charity.

How did the concept for CIO Partners come about?
After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in computer science, I joined Electronic Data Systems in 1990 as a technology consultant with General Motors in Detroit, Michigan. I had the opportunity to move from individual contributor roles to leadership positions at a very young age. After a move to Atlanta with the company, I was recruited to become the chief information officer of RTM Restaurant Group, an $850 million company. Transitioning from supply chain technology to the restaurant industry was an interesting and rewarding move. After serving in my first CIO role for 3.5 years, the entrepreneurial bug hit me. I knew there was a gap in the executive search business and that there was an opportunity to create a niche, executive retained search firm that focused exclusively in the technology leadership sector.

What was your marketing strategy?
While not formally trained, sales and marketing has always been one of my interests. I also knew that CIO Partners, with a defined niche, would resonate well within the marketplace. Over the past 18 years, we have continued to cultivate talent networks of technology leaders and build direct relationships with companies that are in need of these types of leaders. It’s actually rather simple: continue to promote the brand as the top niche player in this space, cultivate relationships with the folks who perform these roles, and then interact with the buyers who hire this talent. In essence, we know the best marketing is to be known as an influencer in the industry and serve well all who play in this space.

How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Our company has had the privilege of being recognized on the Inc. 5000, six times. In short, we grew fast from 2001-2007, learned a great deal through the downturn of 2008-2009, and re-accelerated the growth of our company from 2010 to present day. Growth can be challenging, but continuing to reshape strategy to align with an evolving market is the fun part of being an entrepreneur.

How do you define success?
Success for me is having an idea, launching an offering, staying in the detail to refine the idea in the marketplace, building a values-based team, and then giving them the keys to take the company to a new level.

What is the key to success?
One of the companies that I worked for in the past had a great side of guiding principles that still guide me to this day. Work Hard, Play Fair, Get Things Done, Make a Difference, and Have Fun. From a personal note, having a strong family and friendships are key, and continuing to develop my personal relationship with my creator and becoming the man that he knows me to be.

What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson that I ever learned was taught to me by a former high school teacher who gave me my first technology job as a freshman in college. He had asked me, as I was moving to a new town in order to attend a new college, to find a synopsis of a book that he read a long time ago. He was purposely vague about the name of the book or how I was to find the information, but set me on the task. As a young buck in that day, I promised to get to it, but alas, he had to remind me a few times of his request. A few months later, on my last day of work, I went to the local library and found the book, A Message to Garcia. As I read the short text, I quickly learned the message he sought to instill. In brief, the book is about a man being tasked with an important mission, and that those who are quick to take action and complete a task are those who are most valued. As I delayed on completing what I deemed a trivial, non-urgent assignment, the message of the book hit me directly and further instilled in me that I want to be known as someone who can relied upon to get things done for the sake of all involved.

What are some quotes that you live by? 
“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” – Luke 12:48

“It’s your attitude, not your aptitude, that will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar

Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
This is a hard one! There are tough days, but tough days are a part of the journey…the shaping of me as an entrepreneur. As a hiker, who has been hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections for many years, with only 300 miles left of the 2100 miles, that journey has provided me a perspective that shapes me in my daily walk. When the elements are tough, you keep moving up the trail. Adversity is a part of life, and we should glorify GOD in each and every step, in both good times and bad. Because even as you walk during a difficult stretch, you can still experience joy, and when you reach the top, the trials and tribulations are ultimately rewarded.

When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My family, my faith, and my desire to meet all challenges head on, and growing through each and every experience.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Whether you decide to take the leap to be an entrepreneur early in life or later in your career, know that your individual journey will continue to shape you for that right moment. Seek mentors, become a voracious reader, and continue to develop your personal toolbox and capabilities. In the end, have the confidence to believe in yourself and take the leap! In the end, the journey is the reward.



This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.

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