ITA Spotlight: Terry Kiwala, Vice President, First Analysis
Friday, May 31, 2019
Posted by: Kaylin Berg
Terry Kiwala, Vice President, First Analysis
First Analysis has a nearly four-decade record of serving emerging growth companies, established industry leaders, and institutional investors in emerging high-growth segments in technology and healthcare, both through its venture capital investments and through First Analysis Securities Corp. (FASC), which provides investment banking services and institutional equity research. FASC is a FINRA-registered broker-dealer and member SIPC. First Analysis’s integrative research process underpins all its efforts, combining 1) dynamic investment research on thousands of publicly traded and privately held companies with 2) thousands of relationships among executives, investors, and other key participants in our focus areas, yielding a deep, comprehensive understanding of each sector’s near-term and long-term potential.
Chicagoan by birth or relocation?
Chicagoan by birth, and except for four years at Notre Dame, I have never left. I love walking to work, enjoy the lakefront on the weekends, and have iteratively developed a pretty good tolerance to rain, snow and wind during every non-summer season. When that tolerance is tested, ride sharing services have certainly helped.
How did you come to work with First Analysis?
Several years ago, I met Dave Leshuk and Corey Greendale – both managing directors at First Analysis – through the CFA Society of Chicago. Corey and I kept in touch as I operated different businesses and as the First Analysis coverage universe and investments evolved. When an opportunity to expand First Analysis’s footprint in enterprise software research and investment emerged earlier this year, it was a good mutual fit. I started in April, and I’m excited to be using my operating experience to partner with the entrepreneurs and investors First Analysis serves.
What about First Analysis was appealing?
The element of industry collaboration in the First Analysis model was most appealing to me. I particularly like the charge to identify areas of value and innovation within an industry by collaborating with stakeholders of businesses, large and small, and learning about their new products or areas of investment.
What other roles have you held in the industry? How did they lead you to where you are now?
I have had a variety of operating roles in the past several years. I ran Mobile Makers, an iOS development bootcamp in Chicago and San Francisco. After we sold Mobile Makers, I stayed as CFO of Vokal, a Chicago digital agency, where I worked with some really smart clients on innovative products. Now, I get to analyze public companies and evaluate investments in early-stage businesses based on how I see my sector evolving, as well as my operating experience.
What do you think are the top issues facing the Illinois tech community?
I’ve worked with some amazing development teams, and we have built truly inspiring products. I’ve always found technical talent here to have strong work ethic and good values. I hope Illinois makes its fiscal decisions carefully so that it is financially competitive to attract tech startups and retain more mature businesses. We need to keep the high level of talent that we currently have!
What did you want to be when you were in kindergarten?
When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a race car driver – and I could rival the Matchbox car collection of anyone. I tried to be an amateur race car driver in college on the Indiana Toll Road, but that really didn’t work out well for my driver’s license and insurance rates. I graduated to driving the track and drag racing, which I continue to do today.
What is the hardest challenge that you’ve faced on your professional journey?
The 2008-09 economy was certainly challenging, and our business was certainly not exempt from the volatility of that era. However, during that time, I worked for a CEO who taught me the importance of being well-capitalized and making conservative assumptions in operating the business. Navigating that turbulent time wasn’t easy, but by being well-capitalized we were better able to focus on growing a good business.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
“Never run a business solely for the sake of selling the business” is the best advice I’ve been given. To me, this meant delivering great products and running fiscally sound operations. In each case, we delivered great outcomes for our clients and staff, and interesting opportunities came our way to partner with larger organizations solely because we were running fundamentally good businesses.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
I had Carl Ackermann as my first Finance professor at Notre Dame. I had only intended Introductory Finance to be an elective, but looking at those numbers quickly became an obsession. Carl inspired me to take on various challenges where I could figure things out quantitatively, and he has been incredibly supportive over the past (gulp!) twenty years.
This one is all you! Tell us anything. Any topic at all.
I am a Co-Coordinator of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site at Holy Name Cathedral every winter. A group of us prepares income tax returns for taxpayers who are lower income, disabled, or are limited in their English-speaking ability. We run the site on Saturdays from early February through mid-April and are always needing both volunteers and new tax clients, so if you or someone you know is willing to volunteer or needs assistance, please send them my way. And if you are wondering, yes, I am such a geek that I enjoy doing tax returns in my free time.