BUSINESS CHALLENGER Q&A: Wayne Gibbins

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Wayne Gibbins is CCO at Wercker, a container-centric automation platform to build, develop and deploy multi-tiered cloud-native applications.

 

How did you get to where you are today?

I was a geek from a very young age which is why I ended up studying software engineering. My career started off at an American tech startup, where I had seven or eight roles in software. I then moved into product management, then to operational and strategic marketing, to branding and finally a B2B SaaS venture capital for three years. Which took me to where I am now as Chief Commercial Officer at Wercker, a B2B SaaS tool for developers. I would say the advantage of working at a startup when you’re one of the first 10 people, means you get to do a bit of everything. Keeping close to digital technology and working in startups has been the thread throughout my career.

 

What do you consider your biggest accomplishments to date?

There have been lots of memorable times in my career. I remember when I was working at j4b, and we released a piece of software in the public sector and rolled it out across 24 different councils – it was a very exciting moment. When I joined Viadeo in September 2008, I was promoted within my first month there which was the good news for me – unfortunately the economic crisis was just about to hit and I had to learn to adapt to that.

 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned over the years?

Don’t always listen to a small sample size of customers. I remember at my first job a couple of customers asked us to build a project management tool, and when we did it nobody wanted it because they already had Microsoft Project. So instead of building the tool and selling it to the right customers, we built a product and sold it to the wrong customers. Ten years later and it’s a huge market, just look at the likes of Trello.

Another thing I keep front-of-mind is if you’re not impacting customers, the market or product, then don’t do it. There’s so much distraction in the world we live in that it’s really easy to be busy doing nothing. When I was working at Notion Capital, I used to get around 500 emails a week, and the way I’ve learned to deal with them is to block out two slots in the day to either deal with them, delegate or delete.

 

What do you think are the key things to focus on to build a truly transformational team?

For me, the benchmark for roles should change and evolve as you get to learn about how people present themselves ­– you’ll figure out what you want as you go. You learn about people’s work ethic and whether they like to get their hands dirty. When I’m hiring, I often draw a spider diagram of what I’m looking for with all the parameters where I score individuals 1-5 in all areas – it quickly tells me what’s missing. I also think working with a headhunter who proactively sources passive job seekers is critical because often it’s the most talented people who don’t apply because they’re busy doing their job.

 

Why did you use Kommol?

I met Michelle when I was working for Viadeo and was sitting on the advisory board for Social Media Week where she was raising sponsorship. Two years after that, I got a call from Michelle proposing a role at Notion Captial. She talked me through the role, what the people I would be working with were like, their backgrounds, and the history of the company. She really painted a vivid picture. I landed the role and I’m now working for one of the companies Notion invested in. So because of Michelle’s call, the last four years of my life have been very successful.