EO Chicago Knowledge Partner Spotlight: Nico Berrini
Nico Berrini is a quintessential family man. And if you work with him—either as a teammate, client, or colleague—you’re a member of his extended family. Inherent in him through his multicultural, multigenerational family upbringing, his character trait of caring both personally and professionally about the people in his life displays as a refreshing honesty and positive energy in every conversation.
Berrini is director and chief of staff at Accelerated Growth, a firm that provides accounting, finance, and technology services for entrepreneurial organizations.
That’s right—he’s an accounting and finance professional who brings positive energy to meetings and cares about his clients and colleagues like they are family. This likely sounds atypical, as finance specialists are often stereotyped as boring and introverted. But Nico Berrini’s “extended family” would argue that this character is exactly what entrepreneurs need in a partner who will help them grow.
Berrini didn’t always work with entrepreneurs, however. It took several years for him to discover this synergy.
A Tale of Two Experiences
Berrini’s eleven years of experience working in finance have been split almost exactly in half: the first of which was spent with Boeing in what he calls “a big corporate environment,” where he gained a sound business education.
“I was trained on the fundamentals of accounting and financial reporting in a very regimented environment,” he explains. “That really helped me understand how to read and interpret financial results, how to master the language of business (i.e., accounting), and how to communicate data, intelligence, and financial health insights to executives.”
In 2015, Berrini left Boeing to become a senior analyst at Accelerated Growth. “As I jumped in the entrepreneurial world, it was such a vastly different day-to-day life,” he says. “Now, I get to see the impact of someone who does debits and credits, who reads financial statements, who provides guidance to entrepreneurs—way more than I felt the impact at a large, mature organization.”
With Accelerated Growth, Berrini has had the opportunity to work on several dozen engagements. “We have taken family-owned or private equity-backed businesses and implemented budgeting best practices, cashflow management, capital expenditure planning—a lot of higher-level financial concepts but done directly with the company’s founders or private equity sponsors,” he says. “It has been challenging work, but very rewarding and engaging.”
In his work enabling and empowering the growth of businesses, Berrini himself has grown. “It’s not just throwing the numbers at them, it’s helping them understand why, moving in lockstep to make decisions and be a reliable backbone,” he explains.
This has required him to be nimble, pivot quickly, and excel at communication—and this type of scenario is where Berrini thrives.
Marc Teer, EO member and founder and CEO of Black Spectacles, can attest to this. “Nico and the Accelerated Growth team have been instrumental in helping develop process and structure for Black Spectacles,” Teer says. “They are consistent and communicative—there is never any mystery about the numbers. They’ve done an outstanding job of being flexible and adaptable as my company grows, and I’m particularly impressed at how they are always looking to leverage new technologies to improve efficiency.”
Growing up, Berrini earned a nickname: “Mr. Daily.”
“It’s super embarrassing,” he explains. “I come from a very rowdy family, and I would literally get in trouble every single day, so my mom started calling me ‘Mr. Daily.’ My brothers and cousins would all make fun of me for it.”
As he’s grown older, Berrini has owned his nickname, turning its negative connotation into something positive that he identifies with. Now, “Mr. Daily” signifies that he’s “not afraid to mix it up every single day.”
As a father of three children under the age of five and husband of a nurse on the frontlines of this pandemic, “Mr. Daily” has evolved from a hyperactive troublemaker kid to an adult who puts tremendous energy into everything he does. His family-oriented nature allows him to build genuine relationships and place an emphasis on integrity, work ethic, and keeping promises.
“I’m wired to have an accountant mindset, to care about the details,” he says, “but with entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that they value reliability, communication, and accountability over perfection. Their business is their life. I like to think that I lay it all out there for my team every day, for my family. It’s always family first, do your best, have integrity, follow up, follow through. We all make mistakes, just like on the family front, but people know you have that integrity and they can rely on you just to be there. You have that goodwill. That’s where I think I’ve been able to bring in ingredients from my background and embrace my willingness to put myself out there.”
Kevin Hundal, former EO Chicago president and CEO of Atrend, says of Berrini, ““Nico is a methodical thinker that has value to add to any conversation. I recently had an operational issue for my organization and he was able to give me three resources to look into. We were able to solve the issue and save weeks of work. Nico is an energetic, ambitious, and talented individual.”
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty has become the norm. Businesses have had to go through existential crises, a survival-of-the-fittest mode.
“Businesses have been pressure-tested for viability,” Berrini says. “People have had to learn how to cut costs at varying degrees. And as we turn the page to 2021, hopefully people have some confidence around their ability to pivot and adapt.
“Don’t lose that mentality,” he continues. “Even though it came as a result of a crisis, that planning mentality always leads to great things—even if it’s just understanding where your business is. Remain nimble, remain adaptive, and embrace a newfound appreciation for process and automation—especially as workforces continue to be remote.”
If you find yourself entering 2021 without clear visibility into where you stand, then you may have poor processes in place. “Continue to invest in that process, that hygiene,” he says, adding, “and look to your finance team as your secret weapon in these types of environments.”