Tom Leuchtner is Sr Director, Product Management at FICO, an analytics company that offers analytics software and tools used to manage risk and fight fraud. FICO’s software, which is built on open source technologies and, in some cases, is cloud-based, is used by a variety of organizations across a range of industries.
Tom’s job is to drive new product and market development in the Fraud business segment. So how does someone who worked on collaborative technologies and then taught marketing in Paris, France, become involved in the fraud protection business? Well it’s an interesting story…
Tom’s background working with collaboration solutions such as Lotus Notes, CC:Mail, NetManage Groupware, Netscape Navigator and others may have helped prepare him for what lay ahead. In the late 90’s, he was transferred overseas to Paris, France with Netscape, managing their Europe, Middle East and Africa marketing. Tom left Netscape after a couple years and started a company based in the Netherlands that designed ecommerce infrastructures for some of the largest firms in Europe, such as Philips and KLM. Later, back in France he ‘semi-retired’ and spent a couple years teaching Internet and International Marketing at a French business school. With International Marketing he taught students how to take a product international.
He said that in France, you can produce a product that is domestically consumable, but if you really wanted a product to grow internationally, you often had to go to the UK or the US to gain access to global distribution and sales channels (this, he said, was especially true for tech companies). For Internet Marketing (pre-social media), he taught how to produce and market products using Internet services/software (his background in collaboration helped here).
In 2004, Tom returned to the United States and attended graduate school at Boston College. He decided to get his MBA and MS in Finance, and although he originally thought he would go into investment management and private equity, Tom instead realized that his background in technology made him a perfect fit for financial services solutions. He says he pretty much fell into the compliance/fraud space. And, according to Tom, it’s an interesting space to be in.
As Senior Director of Product Management at FICO, Tom was instrumental in the development of the FICO Application Fraud Manager, software that uses the Nuxeo Platform for Case Management.
With his experience, Tom understands that case management tools need to be streamlined more than they need to be complex. He said that he has this debate on the product management side often - do they need the complexity exposed to be able to tailor for highly specific workflow, or do they need more general, simple interfaces?
In the majority of cases (related to customer workflows discussions), even though during the sales process they get into very in depth workflow discussions, invariably it comes back to ease of use and simplicity for the analyst. That is one area where FICO has its own user experience (UX) designers - they tailored the UX for the FICO Application Fraud Manager to very specific use cases.
When you look at Tom’s LinkedIn profile, there’s something else that you’ll see a lot of - he has spent a lot of time working on boards and mentoring startups. With his own experience as a CEO of a startup based in the Netherlands, Tom says that he’s always getting grabbed by entrepreneurs who want his advice. And he enjoys the mentorship and coaching. It’s his open feedback that he thinks people are looking for.
But while he loves working with startups, he’s a little preoccupied right now with a new baby boy (he’s only ten weeks old). When it’s time, Tom will likely plug back into the startup advisory work. He sees San Diego’s startup community really starting to grow and he’s looking forward to being involved with it.