From The Editor | August 21, 2017

Executive Hiring Advice From A Fast-Growing Software Company

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Executive Editor

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Founded in 2011, Atera’s software is already used on 5 continents and in 21 countries. Atera was voted a 2017 Best Channel Vendor by Business Solutions readers for its cloud-based IT automation platform for MSPs, VARs, and IT services providers. The company recently announced a new addition to its executive team, VP of Marketing Talia Schmidt. ISVinsights asked CEO Gil Pekelman to share his insights on Atera’s hiring process and its strategy for expanding the executive team.

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Q: How is hiring for an executive position different from Atera’s hiring process for technical, sales, support, and/or operations positions?

Gil PekelmanA: At Atera, we exhaust all angles to find the right candidate for the position, especially when it comes to executive roles. As a fast-growing technology company, it’s important to ensure the candidate is the right fit not only for Atera but for our MSP clientele as well. This candidate must have a customer-centric mindset and experience working in the technology industry and the IT channel. We look for an executive candidate with the business acumen to understand the company’s ecosystem and how their expertise fits into and affects the other business units within the company. The ideal candidate will have a proven track record of success, which will be thoroughly vetted through references and a background check.

Q: Who are the key players involved when hiring a new member of the executive team? What is the process like?

A: We average about a 3 to 9 month hiring time frame in order to find the best candidate for the role. During the interview process, the candidate will meet with the CEO and the hiring committee, which is made up of the Vice President of Research and Development, the Vice President of Customer Success, and the Chief Financial Officer.

Q: What prompted this particular VP of Marketing hire? At what point did you realize Atera’s marketing strategy was in need of this additional position? (Or another way to frame the question, why did Atera prioritize a VP-level customer success position before turning to a VP-level marketing executive?)

A: At Atera, we place a heavy strategic focus on Research and Development. However, as the company continues to grow, we noticed a need to bring on a marketing executive. As the IT channel is a high-tech, high-touch environment, we felt this role will enable Atera to be more out in front of current and future MSP partners. We also saw an increased need to enhance our digital marketing, and this role will be key in delivering the overall strategy. As we continue to grow our community, this new role will enable us to better communicate with MSPs.

Q: What kinds of experience, personality traits, and skills do you look for in an executive hire? Is software and/or tech experiencing a requirement?

A: When we look for a new executive at Atera, the candidate needs to have a proven track record of success and experience in their field of study. We are always on the lookout for strong leadership skills, ability to organize and adapt to a fast-paced technology-driven culture, and an ability to manage multiple campaigns. This highly sought-after candidate needs to be able to effectively collaborate and work with people at all levels of the organization. They also need to demonstrate an understanding of the broader IT ecosystem and competitive landscape to develop strategic product positioning.

Q: How long does it take to fill an executive-level position? What should other software companies expect is a typical timeframe from the time they post the position until the time it is filled?

A: At Atera, we believe the search should go on as long as it takes to find the quality candidate. We average 3 to 9 months in our hiring process because a wrong hire can be costly. It is important to take the time you need to find a good fit.

Q: What have you learned from the process of hiring past executives that you applied to the search process for a VP of Marketing?

A: We learned that it is always best to find the right candidate, no matter how long the search might take. There is a lot of competition out there to get the best talent, so Atera relied heavily on digital marketing to promote the job listings as well as face-to-face networking.  It is also important to ensure that the search does not interrupt daily business operations. The search itself can be a full-time job, and it could require a team of people working together to find the best candidate.

Q: What other advice you’d like to share with about the process of hiring an executive?

A: Hiring, like other complex projects, can take time and resources away from the main business goals. The best way to manage the process is to plan ahead as much as possible in your yearly strategic plan. Outline the process in as much detail as possible, and set KPIs, same as you would when releasing a new product or service. In addition, like with a new release, make sure the project has an owner at the executive level to ensure that KPIs are being met.