An Interview with Christopher Kenessey, CEO
The results are in: NetMotion Software has been included (at #26) in the 2019 Seattle Magazine 100 Best Companies to Work For list. We couldn’t be prouder of the amazing company culture that our employees have built over the years, and the industry-leading solutions that they strive to improve upon every day. This honor from Seattle Magazine is just the latest in a string of accolades, including the incredible growth achieved in 2018, recognition of our award-winning technology, our 5-Star channel program, a 92 Net Promoter Score, our executive team, and a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating.
We asked CEO Christopher Kenessey to share his thoughts on NetMotion’s culture, his vision for the future and his impressions of what makes the company one of the best places to work.
What was it that made 2018 so successful compared to previous years?
I think it was the year that we really started to see some of the work of the past few years pay off. With any change – be that in ownership, strategy or personnel – there is always a period of transition. After a lot of effort making sure we had the foundations right, I knew we would have a platform for success and that results would follow. It’s been fantastic to see the positivity and how infectious that can be.
It’s not just the numbers side of the business that I’m impressed by, but the people, too. We have assembled some really smart minds here and I love it when those minds come together to make great things happen.
You must have learned a thing or two along the way; what was the #1 thing you feel you picked up?
I hope there never comes a time when I feel like I’m done learning. I love absorbing new thinking and perspectives from those around me, and of course there’s nothing quite like making your own mistakes and working out how not to make them again. One thing I’ve personally been doing this year is making a conscious effort to trust and empower those around me. We have a leadership team that not only continues to push me and level up every area of the organization, but also lets me know when I’m wrong and tells me the things I need to hear.
More importantly there’s everyone else, from junior developers to sales veterans: I’m continually learning how these brilliant individuals add tons of value to the company in ways that I could never have anticipated. The more I can encourage autonomy and initiative, the better.
NetMotion’s vision must change and evolve as the company grows, but how would you describe the company’s vision for the next couple of years?
We’re at the confluence of a number of trends: mobile is growing faster than ever, the dependency on mobile in the enterprise is growing at a similar pace, and the complexity that drives it will impact worker productivity like never before. Our vision is to enable workers to have the best mobile experience regardless of whether they’re in the office, on a train, or working from home. We will provide unprecedented visibility into the end user experience of enterprise mobile workers, intelligently secure the mobile perimeter, and protect the enterprise while not compromising productivity. It’s an exciting journey and our team is up for the challenge.
The leadership team has undergone a series of changes in the past 6-12 months. What characteristics do you look for when you hire or promote an executive?
I’ve been fortunate enough to hire scores of highly talented people over the course of my career, yet those lessons don’t always translate to executive hires. One important thing in finding an excellent leader, whether that is an internal or external placement, is that you should surround yourself with people who don’t necessarily think like you do. I’m lucky to work with a team of executives that is happy – sometimes too happy! – to challenge and disagree with me. As long as you can foster a culture of trust and collaboration, it’s a really valuable thing to have a diversity of views and people from a variety of backgrounds. Avoiding groupthink is a great way to make decisions that benefit the company, and that starts with the leadership team.
2018 saw some significant growth outside the United States; after 18 years of strong North American focus, what does this international shift mean for you?
We’ve always known there was potential outside our core North American market, we just hadn’t quite got the formula right. For example, not only do we work with 85 percent of American police departments, we also work with most of the major airlines and delivery companies in the United States, too – so why not replicate that overseas?
Our international market almost tripled in 2018, and that’s because we managed to hire the right people in the right places. We have some real momentum in places like the UK, Germany, Japan and Australia now, and that’s thanks to the people we have on the ground, as well as the partnerships they have forged regionally.
What do you believe are the biggest trends and market forces at play as we look into 2020 and beyond?
We covered a lot of the biggest trends in our recent blog post, and they all still seem just as relevant. Things like 5G technology and the spread of IoT will certainly have a huge impact on the way we interact with data. Just think, if 4G helped launch companies like Uber, Lyft and others into the gig economy, what will 5G be able to achieve? We also mentioned that big data may cause some data fatigue in the future, and I agree. It’s going to be less about how much data we have and more an issue of how it brings value to the user experience. Another trend to watch is the shrinking of BYOD in the work environment. It’s simply becoming too complicated and too costly for IT teams to cater to myriad devices running multiple versions of software (often unpatched) on devices that aren’t even running the latest OS. The next best alternative is a COPE style of device management, which we can expect to see more of. Last but not least, let’s talk about security’s weakest links. Would it surprise you to know that people and the networks they use cause the highest risk? That’s because most companies don’t provide employees with adequate training to identify and avoid targeted attacks. Will that change in 2020? The jury is out, but I certainly hope so.
In terms of market forces, you could probably include the recent trade disputes that the United States is having with other nations, but hopefully those will be resolved before they have a lasting impact on the global economy.
Finally, product aside, what do you think makes NetMotion so special?
What makes NetMotion so special? When I look around, I see a company with almost two decades of heritage, and vocal customers who have been around almost as long. Many of the people working here today have been around since the very beginning (or close to it). There’s an energy in the air and a dedication to quality and customer satisfaction that is palpable. Being named one of the “100 Best Companies to Work for” is a testament to our collaborative skills and welcoming culture, as well as the fact that we care about our people, our products and our customers.