Joel Sporleder joined Movista earlier this year, bringing with him more than 20 years’ experience in Retail Technology, focusing on a breadth of skill sets: software engineering, infrastructure/big data, project and product management, organizational design, strategy and change management, as well as vendor management. So, you can imagine why we were so completely thrilled to add him to our team as VP of Technology. (I believe the term “badass” may have even been used.)
To leap or not to leap?
But what, you may ask, would prompt someone to make such a huge leap of faith to leave a Fortune 1 company and move to a growth company like Movista? We asked him what it’s been like to transition to a private company after working for so many years at a corporate giant… and he shared some great insights with us.
He began by sharing his list of considerations when deciding whether to make the leap; essentially, the pros and cons of each company. Some big-ticket factors? The size of business in terms of speed-to-market, ability to affect change, etc.
In the Fortune 1 role, Sporleder said his teams benefitted from established & vetted processes, multiple specialized teams, readily available funding and resources, as well as being able to manage multiple, concurrent projects. However, on the downside... a giant company often falls prey to decision by committee and additional approvals from legal, security and compliance are expected - don't forget to add time to an already crunched production calendar. Similar to a battleship or large freight liner, you can't just turn on a dime when changes are needed. It's harder to react quickly in that environment - partly because things have to be reviewed by so many other sets of eyes to get resolution.
When looking at a growth company mindset, you have to think in a much scrappier way - there is high project demand, speed of delivery is critical, prioritization is crucial and scalability is a priority. Everything has to have room to grow or be built upon - nothing ever seems to be "one and done." Also, smaller team dynamics require engineers to wear several hats... Be prepared to see some creative problem solving, but also some fairly inconsistent processes during building years, when the team has to find out what process works best. Expect lots of learning curve.
As he stepped into his new role - he was very conscious that he may need to adapt somewhat to help grow his team and ensure he was embracing the new company's culture while bringing the best parts of his old company's culture along with him. He was very intentional about change; making sure to learn as much as he could about the culture and product, digging into the details, asking more questions, digging into the details and actively listening.
He's passionate about pushing people out of their comfort zones in good ways to help develop leaders and promote from within. He's introducing some more established processes to help prioritize the workload and increase speed of delivery.
So... his takeaways from his first several months leading a team at the #CoolestOfficeinTown?
"The most important aspects are trust, relationships and accountability. We've been working to establish processes that embrace Movista's culture, and defining priorities - and communicating often - to make sure I'm doing my best to lead through the changes... and much of that has been about adaptation and learning on my part. I'm really proud of what the team has accomplished together in such a short time and all the things they've achieved."
Joel and team have been doing some pretty amazing things together already. We can't wait to see what's in store for 2020! No pressure, Joel!