Senior Vice President and CFO for Nirvanix
Major Horton has a passion for improving organizational structures and processes. It led him to implement the first distributed database for General Motors (GM), then to design robotics for automated manufacturing plants, and later to build financial systems for companies like Dell Computers. Now, he's focusing that passion on his latest project, Nirvanix, an IT startup working to bring an emerging technology called cloud storage to the mainstream. After working in IT and engineering for General Motors, Horton was torn between pursuing a Master of Electrical Engineering Degree or an MBA. Attracted to the breadth of topics and principles covered in a management program, Horton chose MIT Sloan where he could study the technical side of business. Following graduation, he returned to GM as a senior competitive analyst, a position that allowed him to travel the world to juxtapose the company's products and operations against the competition. That experience instilled in Horton a desire to explore different management styles and operational ideologies. “MIT Sloan taught me that companies like GM need to be more customer-centric,” he says. “So I decided to try consulting in order to learn about other business cultures and help them strengthen their focus on clients.”
At first, Horton feared that consultant work would be too superficial—too much theory without follow-up—so he worked with firms that allowed him to implement his own recommendations. “The great thing about consulting is that they don't call you until things are really bad,” he shares. “I love that challenge.” He spent four years consulting with various businesses, hospitals, and universities to improve their operations. With a deeper understanding of management systems, Horton left consulting to once again build and improve business processes and systems. He worked for AlliedSignal as the Director of Financial Planning and Analysis and then for Dell Computer as a Vice President of Finance, charged with improving their financial processes and execution.
After a short stint as CFO for Rackspace, in late 2007 Horton became the Senior Vice President and CFO of Nirvanix, a venture-backed company in San Diego specializing in cloud computing storage. Working with an emerging technology such as cloud storage is the kind of challenge Horton craves. “There is so much potential for this industry and a huge upside for the winners,” he explains. “I'm excited to be a part of uncovering this product's potential and wearing many hats as we ramp the business.” Horton's current role entails managing the company's HR, procurement, and legal functions in addition to serving as Corporate Secretary for its board of directors.
Now living in San Diego, he has created an MIT Sloan alumni group on LinkedIn — now with more than 3,400 group members — to reach out to fellow graduates. Horton was surprised at the number of classmates living in his city. “And then there are those I have been able to connect with across the country and around the globe,” he adds. “It has become an excellent way to connect with some of the best people out there. The quality of MIT Sloan graduates—and thus the network—is truly remarkable.”