Driven to succeed

Video games were not allowed in John Thomson’s household, the home of two educators.

“I can remember sitting with my dad watching business news and he would explain things to me most 7- or 8-year-olds
had no business talking about,” Thomson said.

Thomson’s early curiosity has served him well professionally. After graduating from Baker in 1995 with a business degree, Thomson worked six years in Kansas City for Cerner Corp. in various roles before moving on to Boston-based EMC Corp., where he spent six years managing account strategy for one of the largest software companies. At both jobs, he strategically developed multiple skills to advance his career by writing electronic code, overseeing big projects, serving as an internal business analyst and being involved in sales.

“I knew early in my career that I had executive aspirations,” Thomson said. “I knew I wanted a technology foundation. I needed some operational experience and got that through a large scale. I needed to learn more of the inner workings of the company as a business analyst and I knew I needed to learn how to sell. That’s what executives do at the end of the day. I am a sink
or swim type of person. I throw myself into a project and figure it out or I don’t.”

Since July 2007, Thomson has been well above water as CEO of Saepio Technologies Inc. The nine-year-old company offers Web-based technology that provides big businesses marketing asset software solutions by combining digital asset management, collateral customization and marketing automation technologies. Saepio (a Latin word for encircle) is a rapidly growing company of nearly 50 employees and represents more than 200 brands, including Nike, Harley-Davidson, BMW Motorcycles, Sonic, Sprint, Omni Hotels, Valvoline and most recently General Motors.

When Thomson arrived at Saepio he had whiteboards installed throughout the fourth level of the MMG office building in Kansas City. He wanted to make sure his staff had ample opportunity to collaborate and share their ideas. The mission statement for the company is Saepio makes distributed marketing effective, engaging and easy.

“When you are in sales, you are not only driving revenue,” Thomson said. “You learn a lot about the problems of an industry and company and how to solve those. You learn a lot about contracts. If you can’t learn a company’s problems and figure how to solve their problem with what you’re selling, you’re not going to be very successful.”

Those problem-solving skills began at Baker, where Thomson played soccer for two years and was an active member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He serves as Alumni Board President of Sig Ep. He received the Alumni Citation Award in 2008.

“Baker taught me how to think,” Thomson said. “It’s more important to know the how versus the what. I think Baker was really instrumental helping with critical reasoning and helping me think on my feet. That is the business world.”

Despite the struggling economy that often curbs marketing and advertising expenditures, Saepio continues to increase its sales and was recently listed as one of the four companies to watch in 2008 by Gartner Corp., a software analyst. Sales for the company are up 250 percent from the previous year.

“We help our clients get marketing out faster at a substantially lower cost,” he said. “Marketing budgets are typically the first to
get cut. People will always spend money to save money.”

Posted on Thomson’s office window is one of the creeds he follows. It simply states “Refuse to Lose.”

“I am stubborn and hyper-competitive,” he said. “I am maniacally focused and make sure our clients get the full value of our solutions. We are focused on growth, focused on innovation.”

At the current rate, viewers might be focusing on Thomson on the “Nightly Report.”

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