Hey, if you are traveling and are thankful a more valuable greenback means cheaper vacations, don’t expect Jim Goodnight to concur.

Not even Goodnight, the billionaire co-founder and CEO of software giant SAS, can do much about the increasing strength of the dollar.

Facing currency headwinds thanks to that stronger US currency, SAS still grew revenues by 1.3 percent in 2016 in a streak dating back to 1976 to $3.2 billion. As for what’s to come in 2017, SAS Chief Marketing Officer Randy Guard projects more growth, jobs, possible expansion in Asia, and continuing development of new products as well as services.

Privately held, SAS does provide an annual financial and business ov review each January. The dollar no doubt hurt in 2016 as SAS notes that in “constant currency” growth was actually 4 percent. “Constant” takes into consideration the dollar’s growing value. Still, SAS says revenues grew in all its geographies.

In an exclusive Q&A about hiring and growth plans, R&D, and how SAS continues to look for new talent, Guard has plenty to say.

  • Congratulations on another year of growth. While the release notes geographic and sales growth in many areas, what do you consider the essential factor that is driving SAS growth? Your R&D and continued new product/product development perhaps? Please explain.

Last year, analysts ranked SAS as a leader in more than 30 reports. This really emphasizes the value of what SAS offers, and why thousands of organizations continue to look to us to help them solve their business problems. We continue to reinvest in R&D each year.  Maintaining such leadership is heavily dependent upon innovation.

Our deep investment in R&D helps keep our technology at the forefront of the market and develop solutions that solve modern business problems like fraud detection and risk management.

  • Are you concerned about the growing strength of the dollar? How does SAS adjust to that? Higher prices?

Like everyone else, we felt the impact of the exchange rate. Ultimately we just need to continue our focus on innovation and developing new products that solve real business problems. That will keep our sales strong.

  • How do you remain competitive in terms of pricing from competitors overseas who trade in a cheaper currency?

We have a regional presence in major commercial centers around the world, and we are very focused to ensure we are competitive with pricing for our customers around the globe.

  • Is further geographical expansion planned in 2017? If so, where?

We already have a strong global presence so we don’t anticipate major new expansion. We do expect to see continued growth in Asia, for example, so we will evaluate expansion in that region.

We also have our new Building A at SAS Headquarters under construction, which will open in 2018.

  • As SAS continues to grow, what about hiring plans for 2017?

Over the last few years, SAS has not only globalized but made significant investments in our headcount growth. We will leverage our global resources and investments in 2017, keeping headcount relatively modest, focusing mainly in our main growth areas.

  • How is SAS managing to deal with growing competition for talent, especially in area of analytics? Will SAS continue to push for changes in visas for foreign high-tech workers?

SAS recruits talent with deep analytical expertise in the areas of statistics, operations research, and econometrics. Recently, Money magazine called SAS Analytics “the most valuable job skill.”

And, SAS makes it easy to build those skills. SAS University Edition provides free access to SAS software so anyone can learn how to analyze data. Cloud-based SAS OnDemand for Academics is available free to professors, students and researchers. SAS offers free e-learning resources and online tutorials help users get started in SAS. And, for young students learning to code, SAS recently introduced the free CodeSnaps app.

Hopefully, these and our long-time commitment to STEM education from K-12 through higher education will help bridge that gap by fostering future innovators. Additionally, SAS is a staple on great places to work lists worldwide. This focus on culture helps us attract and retain our talent.

MORE COVERAGE: Guard talks about the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence/cognitive computing as growth opportunities.