A CEO with bold vision.


Jay Coughlan successfully led two emerging growth companies through turnarounds, business integrations, periods of rapid business growth, and mergers and acquisitions.

With more than 30 years in leadership, including 12+ combined years as a two-time CEO, Jay became widely recognized as a leader who both took a strategic view in the most challenging business environments and maintained strong top and bottom line performance. What’s more, not only did Jay foster cultures of high-integrity and openness, but he also set bold visions others were eager to follow.



A CEO advisor with deep, first-hand insight.


Today, Jay is chief executive and managing director of Coughlan Consulting, a company that provides CEO coaching to leaders of emerging growth companies.

Bringing his own deep leadership experience to bear, Jay helps his peers achieve their full potential at work, at home, and in their communities.



A board leader with a legacy of growth.

Jay Coughlan has served as chairman and director in both the private and public sectors.

During his tenure as board chair of Minnesota Teen Challenge, the organization doubled in size, becoming one of the largest non-profits in the State of Minnesota.



From executive leadership rising star to convict.

and, from convict to CEO.

this is Jay’s story.


In 1987, Jay Coughlan began his career at Lawson Software as an account executive. Showing promise, he moved quickly to vice president of Lawson’s first vertical market, the Health Care Business Unit. Here, he increased market share and oversaw triple-digit increases in license-based revenue and new accounts.

Throughout, Jay benefitted from the guidance of executive leadership coach, Brad Spencer, as well as the sage advice of Geoffrey Moore, a disruptive innovation consultant to Fortune 50 tech companies and author of one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 10 Marketing Books of All Time, Crossing the Chasm.

Jay’s path to success was non-linear, however, and it was paved with personal tragedy.

Intoxicated on the return home from a hunting trip with his father, Jay lost control of his vehicle. The accident took his father’s life. Despite the tragic events of that day and the conviction that followed, Jay chose not to be defined by his worst moment, but rather by the man and leader he wanted to be.

The leadership team at Lawson Software believed in Jay’s determination to thrive; they brought him back and supported his journey to the role of CEO. The company’s faith was rewarded. As president and chief executive officer of one of the country’s largest enterprise software companies, Jay led the successful completion of a $200 million initial public offering (IPO)—Minnesota's fifth-largest. He also significantly grew Lawson's revenue from $200 million to $430 million.

After Jay’s time at Lawson, he stepped in as chairman and CEO of XRS Corporation. One of the first to recognize that a convergence of information, cloud, mobile, and social forces would dramatically reshape the future of the trucking industry, he led the company’s transformation from a hardware-based business to the transportation industry leader in SaaS and mobile fleet optimization.

Three guiding principles drove Jay’s strategy for XRS:

  • Make compliance a reality through choice and simplicity

  • Maximize efficiency through cloud-based fleet optimization

  • Make trucking easier for the driver

The strategy resulted in the launch of an entirely new mobile product platform in April 2013, as well as the transition of three older platforms into a single XRS product—all while meeting the needs of the company’s existing customer base.

Jay’s successful leadership positioned XRS for a $178 million all-cash acquisition by Omnitracs, the leader in fleet management solutions.

Now as a CEO advisor, Jay leans on this tremendous first-hand experience to help guide CEOs of emerging growth companies to similar levels of success.

Jay and his wife, Jule, have been married for 30 years. They have three adult children and live in Excelsior, Minnesota.

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