Expat Life’s Interview: “Getting Closer with Gary Cokins”


Gary Cokins is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in advanced cost management and performance improvement systems. He was born in Chicago and is a Greek-American. 

He is the founder of Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gary received a BSc degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Cornell University in 1971. 

His career began as a strategic planner with FMC Link-Belt Corporation in Chicago. Then he served as an FMC division Financial Controller and Operations Manager in Milwaukee Wisconsin. In 1981 he began his management consulting career with Deloitte consulting. 

Then in 1988, he joins with KPMG consulting. In 1992 he headed the National Cost Management Consulting Services for Electronic Data Systems (EDS) now part of HP. From 1997 to 2013 he was a Principal Consultant with SAS, a leading provider of business analytics software. In 2013 he founded his consulting firm.

“What “started my career” was in 1988 KPMG hired me to be trained by Harvard Business School Professor Robert S. Kaplan to be trained in activity-based costing (ABC). After 5 years of implementing ABC, I was the lead author of “An ABC Manager’s Primer” book. That led to my authoring and co-authoring 20+ books,” Gary said.

During his career journey, Gary revealed many things he got. Not only technical skills but also other values ​​that he can apply in his daily life and it can bring benefits to others.

“I have always been curious and learned to always ask questions of others, and then be a good and attentive listener. This has eventually led to opportunities for me to help them with their own careers. To “start something new” I advocate to aim high and try to accomplish even more than you might think you are capable of,” he explained.

Gary also contributes to Bizindo, a management consulting firm based in Jakarta as an advisor. His role and experience are expected to contribute to Indonesia’s SMEs.

His interest in the managerial field has motivated him to continue educating others in organizational development, even though he is no longer a direct career in the field that brought him to his current position. According to him, sharing experiences with others is very valuable.

“Now that my 40+ year career is over it is now a vocation for me to make a difference. What excites me is to educate, train, and inspire others to implement progressive organizational improvement methods and systems. I especially enjoy training accountants so that they can report relevant and useful information to their colleague line managers and executives to provide insights to make better decisions,” he said.

Besides being a career expert, he is also an education observer. This is evidenced by his impressive educational track record. 

His desire to continue learning and sharing knowledge with others inspired him to express his thoughts and ideas through the books he wrote. This is what makes him a great writer.

“My inspiration for writing books, articles, and blogs is to transfer to others the knowledge that I have gained through my experiences. Writing makes me think, and thinking makes me write,” he said.