Written by Denise Tilles
Insight Partners Product Center of Excellence works with and places leading CPOs from around the world into its portfolio of high-growth software companies (take a look at our case study). As part of this program, CPOs are hand selected to participate in the industry-leading CPO Advisory Board. Content for this series is developed in partnership with Advisory Board members, including Kevin Broom.
Let’s get to know more about Kevin with 7 Questions:
1. As a CPO of a fast-growing business, how have you personally evolved as a leader?
You start to see patterns and improve anticipation. You become less distracted by issues and maintain focus on outcomes. It’s important you convey that steady hand as a leader when facing challenges. You have to project experienced based confidence and apply it appropriately.
Earlier in my career, I was in charge of migrating Yahoo’s search technology software to Microsoft in EMEA. There were hundreds of people across two Fortune 500 companies. A week before the launch date, my boss said, “We’re delaying your migration one year”. How do you keep employees, partners and customers engaged after prepping them for an event of that size?
After some reflection, I set an ambitious goal for my leaders. It was important to focus them on the outcome versus the setback. I made sure that everyone had goals that supported the single outcome. I made it fun.
In the end, all teams hit their respective targets, but we missed the overall goal by a small margin. The Managing Director was so delighted with the result that he approved a team wide bonus.
2. You joined Bynder less than a year ago. What is the most important thing to do as a product leader when joining a new company?
As an incoming leader, you need to understand how your product drives ARR, Churn, COGS, etc… to know what levers are available. At Bynder, I initially focused on operational improvements. In hindsight, I should have let the teams carry on and dug into the data. Circumstances differ, but it’s common that the data will not be in a good state and will need your full initial attention.
3. What is the top challenge in scaling a company? What’s your biggest success story?
When you’re transitioning from early stage to growth, there is some level of tech debt. You need to articulate that to leadership and investors in a way that provides a path to payback and future product-led growth. At my last company, I set a plan that focused 75% of resources on new feature innovation to give sales a story. After three months, I changed the allocation to 75% of resources on our three biggest tech debt issues. After six months we balanced our resource allocation to roughly 50/50 between innovation and scale going forward.
4. What was the most challenging ask you had to make of your board?
Typically it’s getting the board to realize that they need to make some tech investments to improve scale and reduce COGS. Many board members will need to understand that feature releases may slow down — and the reason why. At Bynder, it was imperative to quantify the R&D spend required to support current revenue. That was a prerequisite to making effective investment cases on innovation priorities and trade-offs.
5. I’m a good leader if…
my team knows our priorities, target outcomes and why they are important. They should be empowered to make changes that do not require daily managerial intervention by me. That also requires a quality leadership team with a succession plan. You can be the dynamic, do-everything person in startup phase, but in scale-up you need a strong team and succession plan to scale and have redundancy…just like the tech.
6. What’s next for Bynder?
Customers show immense trust in Bynder by putting their branded content in our SaaS solution. We want to expand that solution to assets outside of Bynder and become a single view for all branded assets. We can leverage that position to increase the quality, security and value of their branded content through search and AI.
7. What do you think you’ll be doing 5 years from now?
Transforming an organization from product market fit into a well-functioning and profitable company is the most exciting phase for me.
I’m excited to provide mentorship to ambitious product leaders from a board and/or advisory position. I have personally benefited from such mentorship and really want to give back. It’s so important to balance the sales and tech/prod view at the board level. Both perspectives are important for companies seeking true scale-up.