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Introducing our new CPO, Jeremy Roche

Posted by  Emma Keates

A familiar name in our industry, we were excited to announce on January 10th that Jeremy Roche will take up the position of Chief Product Officer (CPO) at Unit4.

Jeremy has served on Unit4’s Executive Committee and remained active at board level while serving as FinancialForce CEO for the past seven years. So he has always remained close to the company.

As Unit4’s CPO, Jeremy will be responsible for further developing and bringing to market the end-to-end product and customer experience. Having established FinancialForce nearly a decade ago and grown it to be the successful organization it is today, he will use his experience to accelerate the cloud transition for Unit4 customers, delivering product innovation and rapid time to value.

Jeremy joins us at an exciting time for the cloud market in Europe. He will put his vast experience to good use to ensure Unit4 customers get the most benefits from their enterprise software.

We wish Jeremy a very warm welcome as he takes up his new role at Unit4. Having commuted from the UK to San Francisco for close to a decade, importantly this new Europe-based position will allow him to spend more time with his family. I took the time to ask Jeremy a few questions:

Emma: We’re excited to have you at Unit4 Jeremy and back in Europe. For the past 8 years or so you’ve been very focused on the North American market. Why do you think now is a good time to move your focus back to Europe?

Jeremy: The enterprise technology industry has changed beyond recognition over the last few years as new technology has helped us better meet customer demands and the demands of their customers. Software vendors have had to adapt more than ever before. Unit4 recognized that early and has addressed the changing market through new leadership and investment that has helped it respond to the needs of its focus markets. At the same time, demand for cloud solutions in Europe is growing fast and Unit4’s cloud solutions are in demand. Its innovation investment is really paying off and it us great to see customers excited by our self-driving business applications, delivering support for industry specific solutions and redefined the user experience. Unit4 is rapidly growing its market share in higher education delivering a new approach to student management systems, and introduced the first enterprise digital assistant in 2016. Now is a great time for Unit4.

Emma: What are your top three immediate priorities as you settle into this role?

Jeremy: I’ll be focused on innovation, product strategy and customer experience. The CPO team will focus on the development of business capabilities which contribute best to the strategic goals of Unit4. I want to ensure that our product roadmap is transparent and that committed capabilities are delivered on scope, time and quality. I also want to spend time expanding the expert vertical product teams so we can ensure we deliver customer value and success in all of our strategic verticals. I’ll be working closely with other teams including sales, marketing, support, and customer success to drive an excellent end-to-end customer experience.

Emma: How has enterprise computing changed since you began your career?

Jeremy: I started out in the era of the mainframe and minicomputer, when each Kb of memory or Mb of disk storage cost large amounts of money. We still backed up to tape and networks were chronically slow. I think I got my first real taste of the future when I got to work on some of the earliest IBM PCs that made it to the UK. They were seen to be the future, with their green screens and single floppy disk drives. But from those early devices, it was clear that processing would be passed into the hands of the user or consumer. I got a chance to work with early commercial application packages as custom development for mainframes moved to packaged applications for departmental computers and PCs. If you think back to what we’ve seen in the last 20 years, development such as the introduction of the Internet, the Dotcom boom in the 90s and Y2K and then on into the evolution of cloud based computing and SaaS. The face of enterprise computing has been transformed, and that’s happening again through advances in Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. We now expect the same experience from technology when we play, live and work.

I’m grateful to have had the chance to be a part of all these revolutions in technology and I’m looking forward to playing a part in the next evolutions as well!

Jeremy in the early days of his career, with his then boss Graham Steinsberg.

Emma: Can you tell us something about you that not many people know?

Jeremy: I once wing-walked while wearing a business suit and carrying a laptop, which explains the image at the top of this post. In the same vein as Extreme-Ironing (if you’ve never heard of it see the Wikipedia description), Extreme Accounting was something introduced by Coda (now part of Unit4) some years ago. It encouraged accountants to escape the drudgery of their everyday desk jobs, to do something out of character and to show the world there is more to accountants than meets the eye. Many got in touch with us and sent us photos of themselves crunching the numbers while participating in extreme sports. It made #10 on this list of the craziest things to do while sky diving as recently as 2015. This was genuinely a picture sent to us by a Coda customer. Extreme Accounting also led us to take part in the Red Bull Flugtag where a team of accountants ‘flew’ a calculator plane we built off a large ramp into The Serpentine in Hyde Park, London. It was a lot of fun.

 

Emma Keates

Emma Keates

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