MSPmentor 250: Erin Arnold Climbs NextStep Ladder
The fourth-annual MSPmentor 250 report includes executives who made conscious decisions to enter the managed services business. But some MSPmentor 250 members — such as NextStep Networking President Erin Arnold — were just looking for a job out of college. And the long-term results have been startling.
“I started with NextStep 20 years ago as a receptionist while I was still in school,” said Arnold, who studied communications and writing at the University of Kentucky. “I learned the job, mastered it, got bored and moved on to the next job. My role started expanding. It’s not what I thought I would do after college, but I was waiting tables and they needed help. It was a good, stable job.”
Arnold continued mastering and expanding her role with NextStep for over a decade until she grabbed a key opportunity in 2008: NextStep’s founder was looking for an exit strategy and Arnold started taking over the day-to-day operations bit by bit. “I fell in love with the business side of NextStep,” Arnold said. “So I started accumulating the business side of the house. I just love being a problem solver.”
Only a true problem solver could take over a small MSP in 2008, during the height of the U.S. economic recession, and grow a company’s yearly profits by 157 percent while building relationships with Level Platforms Inc. and VMware. Arnold’s problem-solving prowess is what guided her from receptionist to the corner office as president, which she calls her most rewarding position yet.
NextStep Networking has been an MSP for over 15 years and serves SMB clients with 30 to 300 users. During 2011, NextStep has been focused on furthering its growth strategy and signing new clients. The next challenge? Figuring out where the company, and MSPs fit as a whole, in a cloud environment. “Even if you are completely cloud-based, you still need people to make things work, like firewall and fixing computer problems. Those things will never go away.”
And as for her career choice? Everything worked out in the end: “It was never my intentional career path,” she said. “But I think this is where I’m supposed to be.” MSPmentor 250 survey participants certainly agree.