Business Profile | James Sikich

June 2012 View more

NMAG0612_BusinessUnder the leadership of Jim Sikich, Naperville-based Sikich LLP has become one of the leading public accounting and consulting firms in the nation. With more than 400 employees in four states, the firm is experiencing unprecedented growth. Naperville Magazine recently interviewed Sikich about his role in leading his firm through the many changes and challenges in the industry.


Your firm, Sikich LLP, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, is one of the 10 fastest growing companies in the nation. What is your secret to success?

Thirty years ago, we started out as a small accounting firm. Today, we are one of the top 50 accounting firms in the nation with an annual growth rate of 16 percent.

In the late 90s, we decided our end-game plan was to convert our firm from a traditional accounting firm to a consulting firm so we could provide a holistic set of services to help our clients perform better. Since we made this strategic decision, our perseverance to never stray from our core mission has made us successful. What we are striving for has never changed, just our methods of how to get there. That is why today we have a large technology practice that provides enterprise resource planning (ERP), software and IT infrastructure services, and a myriad of consulting services, including investment banking, corporate finance, human capital, litigation support, wealth management, and marketing.

Your move to a new 80,000 square foot corporate headquarters in the Tellabs building at 1415 W. Diehl road marked one of the most significant suburban lease deals in 2011. What attracted you to this Naperville location?

The Tellabs building is an amazing facility. Not only is it close to transportation, shopping, and restaurants, but also to where most of our employees call home. It was very important for us to find a facility that would not increase the commute time of most of our employee base.

The Tellabs building also allowed us to customize our space. We have provided our employees with an open working environment to promote collaboration and the top technology tools to support both onsite and remote working environments. In addition, the Tellabs building provides great amenities to our employees with an on-site cafeteria, a health club, a Starbucks, garden plots, and a walking path.

Plus, since I grew up in Naperville, I have always felt it was my home so it was a great opportunity to come back and support an amazing community.

Sikich LLP has been recognized as a leading business consultant innovator. How do inspire and create innovation within your own company?

The culture at Sikich drives our innovation. It really isn’t something I can explain, it is just something you feel when you walk into any of our offices. We have such a great mix of people who believe in the business and our ability to help companies, organizations, and individuals grow.

Our business and employees also need to grow, and we can’t grow unless we take risks and make strategic decisions. You need to make mistakes and learn from them in order to be successful. With mistakes and risk come the rewards we have seen. I believe that if we aren’t making enough mistakes, we aren’t trying enough things.

To support our new endeavors, we also need talent. Without top talent, you are just another team in the league. We concentrate on attracting, developing, mentoring, coaching, and retaining talent at all levels. This is why we have a new employee development program called Sikich University. This on-going training program is geared toward providing all employees technical training and overall business acumen. Innovation doesn’t happen overnight. It is the small improvements made each day that help us to achieve our game plan.

You are involved in numerous civic and charitable organizations in the Naperville area. What are some of your proudest community accomplishments?

My proudest accomplishment actually has to do with the partners and employees at the firm. I have tried to instill a culture of giving back to our local communities, and I truly feel that has happened. We have numerous partners and employees involved with organizations such as the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Aurora Area Chamber of Commerce, Rebuilding Together Aurora, the Naperville Area Humane Society, the Naperville Jaycees, and Fox Valley Associated General Contractors, just to name a few.

You maintain a busy schedule between your responsibilities as a CEO and your involvement in the community, how do you maintain a work-life balance?

Work-life balance is a challenge for any person. There are two main things I do to help me maintain balance. I put my health first and workout each day. This is my time to focus on me. Second, I work remotely sometimes, even from my vacation home in Wisconsin. With technology, we are so connected that it doesn’t really matter where we physically because we are constantly connected.

Having grown up in Naperville and graduated from Naperville Central, what are some of your favorite things to do in Naperville?

My favorite thing to do in Naperville is to drive my Harley around the city to all my old haunts. I usually drive down to Royce Road and visit my old house and go through downtown and the riverwalk area to see how everything has changed. When I grew up there was nothing south of Edward Hospital so it is just amazing to see the growth.

Photo by Mike Hudson