An Exclusive Interview with BlackLine Executive Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan, Co-CEO of BlackLine, was interviewed by The Software Report.  He shared with us his insights on scaling large organizations as well as his deep background in consulting and corporate leadership.

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This is a two-part series in which we will previously published an interview with BlackLine’s Founder and Co-CEO Therese Tucker.

BlackLine was recognized by The Software Report as a Top 100 Software Company of 2023.

You have an accomplished background both in consulting and in corporate leadership. Can you share with us a few critical components to scaling a business into the billions of revenue and thousands of employees?

"Scaling a business is a complex, multifaceted challenge that requires strategic vision, operational excellence, and a strong organizational culture. It is critical to have a clear mission of what you want to achieve for your customers and a vision for what you want your company to be. Every professional in your organization must know what to do and how to do it with purpose. This requires a well-defined strategy and a well-communicated plan to execute it.

Building a foundation of operational excellence and scalability is key. Prioritize investing in technology and systems that can scale, streamline processes to improve efficiency, and continuously look for ways to optimize operations. Doing so will enable your organization to innovate and adapt to changes quickly. Staying close to your customers – their needs, business environment, and journey with your products is equally critical.

Finally, and most importantly, people are the heart of any business. Scaling successfully requires attracting, nurturing, and retaining top talent. Invest in your people by creating a strong culture of engagement centered on your company’s values, offering opportunities for professional growth, and ensuring your team feels valued and invested in the company’s success."

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got your start then gradually made your way to corporate leadership?

"I spent the first 31 years of my career with Deloitte. During my professional services career, I focused on strategic consulting, corporate governance, forensics, cyber security, regulatory matters, M&A, restructuring, and auditing, with a financial services focus. I held several leadership positions within the M&A, corporate finance, insurance, and capital markets practices, culminating in becoming the CEO and managing partner of Deloitte Advisory.

Following my time with Deloitte, I served as CEO of AEGIS Insurance, followed by more than four years with Geller as CEO, managing principal, and chief strategy officer.

Having mentors and trusted advisors throughout my career greatly impacted my development as a leader and my career trajectory. These professionals invested in my growth and success by helping me navigate complex situations, sharing their honest feedback, and offering perspective and insight from their own career journeys. Through these relationships, I learned to say “yes” when opportunity knocked. "

How did you become involved in BlackLine and where do you see the company in five or 10 years?

"I was first introduced as a strategic alliance partner to BlackLine leading up to and following their IPO in 2016. The next year, Therese, BlackLine’s founder and CEO, asked me to join the board of directors. I became chairman of the board in January 2023 and joined Therese as co-CEO two months later.

At BlackLine, we inspire, power, and guide digital finance transformation. We are proud to be the market-leading provider of cloud software that automates and controls critical finance and accounting processes. Companies of all sizes and across all industries rely on BlackLine to help solve their most complex accounting challenges.

Looking to the future, our dedication and ambition remain steadfast: we will continue to be the most critical platform for the Office of the CFO. Currently, we are developing a completely unified platform for digital finance transformation, from order-to-cash and through all aspects of financial close and reporting. As CFOs increasingly assume more strategic and pivotal roles in their organization, BlackLine’s unified platform will provide the analytics and insights they need to drive decisions and transform operations.”