A Q&A with Andy Leaver, Sailthru’s New EVP of Worldwide SalesAug 17, 2016 - by Kristine Lowery
All of us at Sailthru are excited to announce and welcome Andy Leaver to the Sailthru team as EVP of Worldwide Sales. Andy brings more than 20 years of experience to Sailthru, including executive positions at Hortonworks, Workday and Bazaarvoice — helping to lead all towards IPO.
Having been a leader of international teams at highly disruptive companies, Leaver will help guide and execute sales strategy as Sailthru further increases market share among top comScore publishers and ranked Internet Retailer companies.
The success of Andy’s past organizations has been a result of his unique ability to identify emerging tech market trends, and experience scaling startups to global enterprises. Check out the Q&A below where we caught up with Andy to find out his secrets to selecting mega-successful businesses to work for, advice for taking that next step in your career, and more!
You’ve worked a roster of impressive companies that had successful IPOs, including Hortonworks, the fastest company to achieve 100 million in less than four years. What is your process for identifying and evaluating companies when making a switch?
ANDY LEAVER: In my mind, every every 10 years, computing reinvents itself in some way. There’s been many big shifts including mainframes to minis, to desktop, to cloud, and now we’re in the era of data sets, or Big Data. If you look at momentum around each of those shifts, they’re happening faster, and it’s causing the innovation cycles to go down. What I look for are companies that are leading those types of revolutions.
If you look at what Sailthru is doing, we have 1.6 billion customer profiles in the cloud, so it’s truly Big Data at scale. When you bring all of that data together with the cross-channel solution offerings, you can see that it’s one of the leading companies across a number of different reinventions that are happening right now. You’ve got to combine that, though, with the quality of the leadership. I know a lot of the leaders here, and I’m quite impressed with their track record. You also need to look at the quality of the company’s funding, so having people like Benchmark (as Sailthru does) behind a company, speaks volumes about their excitement about the space, as well.
Further, I look at the addressable market for companies. I think today the addressable market for this company is very large. I can see that with the number of customers it has, it still has a long way to go, and with the innovation, particularly around mobile and Big Data, it’s going to make that market even larger. Combine all of the above together, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
What it is about Sailthru that attracted you?
ANDY LEAVER: Initially, I knew of Sailthru because I worked with Neil Lustig, the CEO, in another life. He was the person who said, “Hey, you need to come look at this company.” Now, with the acquisition of Carnival.io and layering in what Sailthru’s data science team is working on, I think the company is moving the story forward into spaces that no one else can do with machine learning, AI and mobile. That combination made it a pretty easy decision for me to join the team.
What advice would you give to mid-level and senior-level individuals trying to take the next step in their careers?
ANDY LEAVER: I won’t say I’ve got the golden ticket. But I will say there’s a couple of things that I’ve been very fortunate to experience, and that I think any other individual could benefit from. One, work for a market leading company with lots of innovation. Expose yourself to new ideas, new techniques, innovation and disruption. Second thing is, put yourself in the path of growth. The bigger the growth, the better, because growth equals opportunity. As the company is growing, you personally get the chance to expand and grow, and also move into other parts of the organization. Without growth, that simply doesn’t exist.
The third is, get yourself a great mentor. I’m very fortunate to have worked with some great people. I worked for a long time at General Electric and they just have a great management program. Every person who wants to take that next career step needs to find a mentor that understands all the things that you need to round out your leadership experience, as well as your chosen career path, no matter if you’re if you’re an engineer, a marketer, or a sales person. You’ve got to hone both: career skills and leadership experience.
Then finally, be in a company with great culture and values. Culture is one of those horrible words that can be meaningless. Every company has its values listed on their lobby wall. Find a company that doesn’t so much talk about it, but actually acts upon it as well, and understands the power of what culture can mean in an organization. Find one that has a strong culture that’s centered around customers and serving them, as opposed to self serving internal company metrics.
You come from a combination of Big Data and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies. What predictions do you have for the mar-tech world in the next few years?
ANDY LEAVER: That’s easy. I think it’s the combination of the two. Let’s take the scale of data that’s being captured today and put it into perspective. If you think about systems of old, like ERP systems, that’s not Big Data, that’s small data. If you layer on social data such as Twitter, that’s medium data. Then, when you add in machine generated data, which is typically open data such as geo-location data, weather data, traffic data, and so on, then you get into massive data sets. Any company that can manipulate those massive data sets, and overlay with any form of machine learning or AI is going to be able to serve people better.
Imagine if you can combine massive data sets to truly have that personalized conversation across all channels. Personalized web pages, personalized communications, even personalized robot conversations on web pages (passing the Turing test of course!). I think that’s even more powerful, because then you feel like the brand is personalized to you, even though you’re one of potentially millions of customers. That’s exciting.