Elona Mortimer-Zhika is well-acquainted with what it takes to succeed. She is first female CEO of the accounting software group IRIS, where she has been working tirelessly to make the world a better place for those in the financial services sector. As a leader, she’s been described as down-to-earth yet determined in her professional endeavors.
“I like to lead by example and earn my stripes. I believe that great leaders should be humble,” Mortimer-Zhika said of her management style. “There are always ways to improve and I learn from both my peers and my team. My motto is ‘it’s more important to get it right, than be right’.”
In 2016, Mortimer-Zhika started with IRIS as their chief financial officer before moving into the chief operating officer role two years later. The Albanian-born woman had a wide range of responsibilities during her time there, including overseeing their revenue generation efforts, customer service, IT, facilities, group transformation, M&A integration, legal and human resources.
In that time, IRIS acquired 12 companies, expanded to twice its size and then successfully sold themselves to private equity firms ICG and Hg Capital for approximately £1.3 billion ($1.74 billion at time of purchase). The deal was the largest private equity-led deal in all of the United Kingdom and the third largest in Europe.
Earlier in August, IRIS announced that Mortimer-Zhika would be promoted to the role of CEO, succeeding Kevin Dady who will take over as executive chairman for the enterprise software company. She shared her thoughts on taking first chair of the IRIS Software Group.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to head the business I love and admire,” she said in a prepared statement. “This is an exciting time to take the helm of this business; we have been growing strongly and I will continue to execute a solid and well considered strategy to exceed our growth targets.”
Kevin Dady voiced his own support of Mortimer-Zhika’s ascension to chief executive extraordinaire. “Elona’s exceptional leadership qualities have been instrumental in her roles as CFO and COO,” he said. “Her humility, extraordinary track record of success, and exceptional business acumen make her an outstanding leader and one I am proud to work with.”
Mortimer-Zhika’s star was rising long before she started with IRIS, however. She received a scholarship to attend the world-renowned UWC Atlantic College in Wales at the age of 16 before moving on to University of Reading. She graduated with 1st class honors with a joint degree in accounting and economics.
She started out her career in audit and assurance with Arthur Andersen before taking a senior manager position at Deloitte in 2002. Mortimer-Zhika’s move to mobile-data services company Acision marked the beginning of her rise through the ranks in senior leadership roles – she was hired into the VP of operational finance role before being promoted into VP of commercial finance three years later. After a brief stint as a senior vice president at a company called Mavenir, Mortimer-Zhika made IRIS her career home.
She was named finance professional of the year in the Thames Valley Venus Awards in 2018.