Executive Team Looking For Leadership Guidance
New roles on leadership team
The public safety and security industry has experienced evolutionary shifts in the past decade, especially when it comes to the technology that drives it. Big data and artificial intelligence are now the tools that governments rely on to keep citizens safe.
At the forefront of this shift is IMRSV. Founded in 2013 by current CEO, Sam Witherspoon and CFO Bennet Brown as a service business, the company now builds products which use the most advanced machine learning capabilities. IMRSV’s mission is big and ambitious - to make the world a better place. Sam says good data, that’s also transparent, is vital to this mission.
In a public safety context, it could be an investigation to arrest someone. Law enforcement needs to understand things such as, the people leading a specific criminal organization, if the proper evidence has been collected to prosecute them and if the actions taken by law enforcement can be justified by governing bodies. At IMRSV we envision a security industry that is effective but also more transparent and accountable.
I now realize the difference between having a fixed mindset on what leadership looks like, which is what we had before, versus a growth mindset which is now the path we’re on. There’s always more for us to learn and figure out as we grow.”
Growth Outpaces Leadership Acumen
During the global pandemic, many technology companies rapidly expanded and IMRSV was no different.
“We ran for a long time as a purely professional services business. For a long time, we had this very linear growth trajectory. Until we had a contract that justified hiring a person, that person was not hired’, says Sam.
Pivoting into software meant entirely new roles were needed and created. The impact of this was a doubling of IMRSV’s headcount in less than two years. It led to a common challenge found in surging startups. The company transitioned from a small team, where people wore multiple hats and inherently understood the culture and leadership structures, to having a larger team, more specialization of skills which need to be actioned and recently appointed leaders struggling to find their footing.
“Some of the original employees were really struggling to manage people. Yet we're very fortunate that everyone is quite humble about what they do and don't know. We have a strong culture of self-improvement. We quickly realized, within this new version of the company, the entire executive team needed help.”
Sam says rather than taking some basic training, they wanted someone who could help them forge new ground. An experienced leader who could bring fresh perspectives about the challenges they were facing and provide a roadmap for improvement.
In terms of developing a high-performance team, there's no finish line. But Fahd’s given us so many tools to assess where we are in that race.
Finding the Right Fit
Sam says deciding what he didn't want in a leadership program was much easier. Similar experiences, where he participated in team-building or coaching, had been dreadful.
I’d been part of peer groups for executives before and the advice around building high-performance teams felt antiquated or cheesy. Sometimes we would be asked to participate in weird ice-breaking activities. It does not resonate with me at all.
One of the biggest disappointments for Sam, when evaluating the landscape, was a lack of understanding and guidance for IMRSV’s needs as a fast-growing software company. There seemed to be few leadership programs which had that expertise. Some coaching and executive training programs had been referred to him, but nothing was the right fit.
“I didn’t want someone working with the team who had all these outdated practices. I wanted someone relatable. Someone who was hungry and invested in us getting better as a team”.
A post on LinkedIn from another SaaS founder caught Sam’s attention. The founder had just gone through some leadership training with Unicorn Labs and described exactly what IMRSV wanted. Leadership coaching and training, that didn’t “feel like” leader coaching and training. Fresh and original, not fake and obsolete.
At the end of the day, I want to work with someone who shares our ambition of building a great company; making an impact on people’s lives. My first impression of Fahd was that he was the perfect fit. He’s one of the most driven people I’ve met. We love working with him.