Rebuild The Band

This is an installment of a multi-part blog series by Hart Williford, CEO and president of Ingenious Med.

One of the things I love about high-growth companies is that you have no option but to embrace change. The company and product evolve quickly, office configurations shift, but more importantly, fast growth means that you have an opportunity to add a lot of good people to the organization. In fact, building a high-performance team to support that growth is one of the most critical tasks you need to accomplish as the leader of one of these dynamic organizations.

In the old days, when I first graduated college, I went straight to IBM. At the time, that was a great place to start a career because they put you through 18 months of training, and they developed their employees — people stayed there forever. But over time what I saw was that these large corporations, due to productivity and other challenges, started having massive layoffs and really didn’t invest in and train their people as much anymore. Things changed.

So to me, the best companies to work for today are these profitable, fast-growing, super exciting, innovative solutions companies that are truly moving the needle in their industries. Probably the only concern that some people have about joining these companies is that they usually have an exit plan. In other words, the goal oftentimes is to sell to a larger solutions company or merge with another organization.

However, I have found that when that happens, the majority of employees actually benefit from it. If someone wants to move to Boston, for example, it gives them the opportunity to do that. If they want to get into international work, it oftentimes gives them that opportunity, as well. They learn the processes of scale within these fast-growth organizations, so many times it enhances their career path.

There are some people, however, who just really love the pace and excitement of early or growth stage solutions companies, and they move on. When I came here to Ingenious Med, for example, it was a small company. Over the past few years we have added more than 200 employees, and we’ll add around 100 more in 2016. Interestingly enough, more than 10% of our current employees have worked for me previously. These people have called me one at a time wanting to team up and do it again.

Those that I have added are highly competent individuals. They know the gig. They know the job, and they understand what it takes to be successful. I will already know if they fit the culture, and if so, we hire them. So you rebuild the band and then do it again.

It’s a lot of fun. I have employees here who have worked for me at three companies. There are a lot who have now worked for me at two companies. It’s really fun to build that respect and rapport and continue to succeed together.

After four of these engagements, where I’ve come in as the CEO and moved the company to explosive growth, I now have quite a pool of very qualified people to draw upon who really understand exactly what it takes to move a company to the next level. That is a phenomenal asset.

With every company I have continued to build a team of trusted co-workers and advisers. Initially those who follow you to an organization know all of the processes that need to be put in place for success, and the entire team learns from them. Within a short period of time, the entire team all becomes one — everyone aligns around the company. It’s very exciting to continue to grow and build an organization that knocks it out of the park together. Several of my vice presidents — product management, account management, integrations and professional services — and my CTO have all worked for me previously. We’ve proven multiple times that the team can be successful. Then you add additional people, and you dare mighty things together and win.

By rebuilding the band and adding to that band, you create a unique but consistent and successful beat. And I can tell you, there is no better sound in the world.