Learnings 1 with Chris Mahl

Learnings 1 with Chris Mahl

By Dave Carvajal on August 1, 2016


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#Executive dialog week after week, builds #businesses quarter after quarter #Insights [Click to Tweet]

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Chris Mahl: If I look at Informatica, sort of the first you know I was at Oracle for over five and a half years, Informatica was the first true start up.

Chris Mahl: The founders Gaurav and Diaz Nesamoney had really studied the problem they were solving and they had a unique answer, and it was a problem that the market wrestled with in weird ways.  This was the enterprise, analytics, data warehousing which was really nascent at that time. They solved a unique problem which gave us a lot of differentiation.

Chris Mahl: That’s different than sort of the quarter to quarter building the business. There was actually a lesson I learned there that was handed to me and this was really from a guy named Dave Pidwell which he’s retired now, I think he owns half of Hawaii. Guys who used to work for him founded Ariba he’s a tremendous man but he taught us a way to organize ourselves as executives committed to each other and be real time about it, sort of week to week, month to month.

Chris Mahl: It was really simply, at the end of each week we’d share a brief communication to each other around key metrics and needs and asks of each other. So this executive dialogue that went from sales to marketing, product engineering, to finance, to CEO was a very vibrant muscle from the beginning and it’s the lasting lesson I still use.

Chris Mahl: The idea was we got something week to week, month to month so that was actually a lesson that I was taught and got the benefit from in Informatica. I will say that we all have personality types, well lesson learned is what’s your personality type. Ultimately folks have heard the sales background conflicts and everybody’s type but when you’re inside the walls of a company you can be the driver and it should be, you are the number. In a sense to the board, to the public market you’re a number so you want to organize people, and concepts and execution to achieve that number and ultimately making that happen.

Chris Mahl: At Informatica I got a nickname which was brought to me by the sales teams which was The Edge. It’s not because of my remarkable guitar skills, it’s because of the amount of pressure I would bring to people objectively with support. It was a joke they could make to me so that I was approachable but I learned from that a little bit.

Chris Mahl: I used to think about it am I pushing them to the edge to be productive or over the edge where they become unproductive. There’s a real good lesson for everybody, I’d actually say in today’s world a lot of CEOs who have an idea and maybe not a lot of management background to be honest, developing people is a skill. It’s not natural maybe 10{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} of the time and acquired maybe 90{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} of the time in my experience.

Chris Mahl: I can encourage new CEOs, younger CEOs to think about that dynamic and get a mentor. I know we’ll talk about that who might be very good at that sort of really be able to reflect on that for you. We need people to hire to increase productivity, nirvana leading them there where they’re exciting and doing it themselves- brilliance. That’s not that easy at this scale. Being The Edge, have a driver personality, backing them up a little bit and bringing people up the productivity curve, definite valuable lesson.