About Mike Irwin

Some say that running a business is like running a marathon: long-haul endeavors that require preparation, persistence, and the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. They also require help.  As a business leader and 10-time marathoner, I can relate.  Standing at the start of the Boston Marathon, I was excited about the opportunity to run.  Though I was running alone, I didn’t get there by myself. 

For me, business is the same way.  The road to success has been winding and unpredictable.  I’ve learned from others and earned a few scars of my own too.  As a Co-founder/President of a start-up, executive officer of a $1.5 billion company (WD-40), global strategy officer, public company CFO, VP Marketing, head of sales, and board member, I’ve built a broad perspective in business transformation.  By spending time in 40+ countries and working in an array of distribution channels, I recognize the subtle differences in consumers, customers, and cultures, as well as the levers companies can apply to address their needs. 

My effectiveness stems from an ability to understand markets, link organizational capabilities with business opportunities, and build passionate teams to achieve shared goals. I’ve done that in branded consumer goods for the past 20 years. My deepest experiences are in automotive, hardware, industrial, mass retail, & outdoor sports. 

Mike is a highly unusual and skilled professional who has earned wide respect for his leadership and business savvy. He is a consumer focused strategist and courageous leader with unparalleled energy and passion. He has a natural orientation toward developing people to achieve results. At the same time, his sense of fair play is evident in everything he does. Mike is not afraid to take educated risks and to search for innovative solutions to business problems — and his many successes have proven the validity of his judgments.
— Bob Morais / Weinman Schnee Morais

Where I'm from

With sales of $380 million, WD-40 Company markets its products in more than 100 countries worldwide and has a market cap of ~$1.5 billion. 

  • Co-Founder/President of WD-40 BIKE Company, 2012-15.  Aimed at specialty retail, I set up BIKE as an internally funded start-up company with a purpose-built line of products and separate support functions. We reached 3,000 stores in the US and 19 countries. More on my work with a start up.
  • EVP Strategic Development, WD-40 Company, 2008-15. I transformed corporate and brand strategy to amplify profitable growth. We delivered the first-ever extensions of the WD-40 brand which are now sold in more than 40 countries. More on my work in  brand strategy and business strategy.
  • EVP Chief Financial Officer, WD-40 Company, 2001-08. I reshaped the global financial function, integrated acquisitions, refinanced debt, and built relationships with the investment community.  More on organizational development work.
  • VP Marketing Americas, WD-40 Company, 1998-2001. I led the team in achieving double digit annual growth rates across the region and all-time record consumption in the biggest market.  More about the brand at wd40.com  More on my work in marketing strategy and sales strategy.

Working with WD-40 Company was a unique experience: global brand and a very diverse range of consumers, customers, distribution channels, and countries. Because of that breadth, my years there were like working in several companies and industries, in multiple countries.    

I’ve also had the honor of serving other organizations…

  • Board of Directors - Kitchens For Good
  • Mentor - Chairmen's Roundtable
  • Mentor - San Diego Sports Innovators
  • Mentor - San Diego State University Entrepreneurship Programs
  • Board of Directors past - VOZ Sports Inc. (sports equipment)
  • Board of Trustees past - Canyon Crest Academy Foundation (education)
  • Board of Trustees past - Leukemia Society of San Diego (healthcare)
  • Board of Directors past - Aztec Athletic Foundation (sports)
  • Chairman, Board of Directors past - Aztec Shops Ltd. (retail)

I hold an MBA from Southern Methodist University, an MS from the University of San Diego, and a BA from San Diego State University.  While in college, I served as chairman of the board of directors of Aztec Shops Ltd, a $20 million retail company. 

On the personal front, I'm a community volunteer and youth soccer coach. An avid runner, I've completed the Boston Marathon and the Chicago, Marine Corps, and New York City Marathons, as well as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  I was co-author of a book called Cathedrals of College Football.  And I crash bikes...but not on purpose.

I admire Mike’s ability to align brand potential with commercial sensibility and deliver real value that customers are willing to pay for. He is both strategic and pragmatic. He provides the leadership necessary to guide an organization as well as the technical aptitude to have credibility in each functional area.
— Andy Taylor / Turtle Wax
Mike has all the critical qualities of a c-level executive. Through his CFO skills, he is able to capture and communicate the quantitative elements of a business to drive better performance. As a business development executive, he gets above the numbers and recognizes strategic potential through organizational realignment, joint ventures, and acquisition. He is the executive who directors want to talk with in the board room and investment bankers want to introduce to investors.
— Matthew McGrath / Capital One
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