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MarTech Interview with Alexander Kvamme, CEO at Pathlight

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“I believe the concept of a flexible work scheduling and arrangements is permanent. Companies will need to institute new norms to cope with people working from home.”

Tell us a bit about Pathlight? Specifically, tell us how it can help sales leaders manage their teams?

Pathlight is all about democratizing, spreading, and empowering world-class management at every level. What does that mean for sales leaders?

Many things.

First, our platform allows them to empower their best managers, give them more leverage, save them time, and help them streamline workflows. Using Pathlight, sales leaders can manage more people and be more successful. They can also use our platform to get every new manager up to speed quickly and following best practices. In short, we help your new managers be on top of it from day one.

Team management is especially important during this time when so many employees are working from home. Can you tell us what your customers are experiencing?

Right now every company is in one of three stages of shelter in place. The first stage is focusing on survival and ensuring you have the right infrastructure and logistics — the hardware, the applications, etc. — in place to support a remote workforce. The second stage is sort of an intermediary stage where they are focusing on their core business, looking to maximize productivity and make sure the business continues to be up and running. The third stage is about striving to embrace this “new normal” everyone is talking about and the new benefits, capabilities and efficiencies that come with it.

Our customers are going through all of these stages, but thanks to our platform, they have been able to very quickly overcome and move on from the first two stages much quicker by using Pathlight.

How has your business changed since the onset of this crisis? Has there been more demand as a result of everyone working from home?

We’ve seen a drastic increase in user engagement as our customers deepen their reliance on Pathlight.  It’s also created greater demand for our platform, particularly from Fortune 500 companies who historically have not been early adopters. But everyone is now open to trying and doing new things.

Over the past seven days, we’ve scheduled meetings with C-suite executives from some of the world’s most prominent enterprises that are experiencing challenges with adopting to the current situation. Before the crisis, these folks were much more conservative with long sales cycles. Now they are much more open to innovation, a sense of urgency and they want to move quickly to adapt to the times with technology solutions like Pathlight.

Do you feel it’s harder / easier to manage people remotely?

It’s more challenging, but not impossible. You can successfully manage people remotely, but it’s not as effective as being in the same room with someone. You can’t read their body language  or visual cues, for example, which some of the best managers are very good at doing. They can see when someone is doing well or needs support. That skill set is effectively nullified by people working remotely. You can certainly manage people equally as well if they are remote, but it requires more preparation, organization, processes and tooling.

Self-management has never been more critical. It’s one of the most important skills an individual can develop going forward, and one that managers will be looking for when recruiting.

Tell us how Pathlight works.

Pathlight is a platform that turns data into three categories: achievement, success, and results.

Using our platform, we map this raw data from core business systems against the org chart, analyzed against goals and historical trends. We pull out insights from effective tasks that managers can then use to communicate with their teams for coaching, assigning tasks, sharing agendas.

I tell people we’re like a weather app for your career that allows you to focus on what you need to deal with today, tomorrow and the foreseeable future. We convert advanced data analysis, historical trends, and org chart benchmarking into simple instructions that sales leaders can use to manage their team and help them understand what areas need improvement. Just like you wake up and check your phone to see if it’s going to rain, Pathlight can be used to check on how you’re doing and what you need to improve.

Do you view this push to work from home as something permanent or short-term?

I believe the concept of a flexible work scheduling and arrangements is permanent. Companies will need to institute new norms to cope with people working from home. I believe very few companies will be able to manage an in office-only structure in the aftermath of the crisis. Whether it’s a hybrid of work from home and in-office, that’s up to each individual company.

Where does Pathlight sit within the technology stack relative to other enterprise technologies? What technologies does it connect to?

We sync and analyze data from core business systems like Salesforce, Zendesk and Github. We are now the system of record for performance and for the manager and direct report relationship.

So what does that entail? While casual conversations and non-performance related conversations are happening on Slack as always, all goals and data communications on performance go through Pathlight.

Our platform sits in the stack right where management sits in the stack – at the intersection of data, communication and people.

What advice would you have for a business leader looking to manage teams in this new era of remote work?

A leader needs to move from “command and control to trust and verify.”

One word that best describes how you work.

Sporadically-focused.

What apps/software/tools you can’t live without?

Pathlight! Every single thing about my team and my relationship with my team is in Pathlight. And my Calendar. The most important thing in this world is your time and the calendar is how you manage that.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

For me, no meetings in the morning. It’s essential to figure out when you’re most productive and focused, and don’t book meetings during that time. Very easy to manage. For me, I never have any meetings before noon. That works best for me.

What are you currently reading?

For perspective, I am reading Selected Speeches and Writings of Abraham Lincoln. Leading your team through a crisis is tough, but imagine leading an entire nation through a civil war.

For fun, I am reading Barbarian Days by William Finnegan & Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts. Both of these books help me with my creative thinking. They also both make great lockdown reads because they transport you to new locales.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

“It’s all about people.”

What’s the secret of your success?

Work with and hire people who are better and smarter than you.

Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:

Erol Toker

Thank you, Alexander! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Alex Kvamme is the CEO of Pathlight, the only team management platform that brings data and people together to power team performance. Pathlight empowers large, customer-facing teams to achieve their goals by bringing performance intelligence, coaching, and communications tools together in one place, thereby increasing transparency and creating accountability at all levels.

pathlight logo

Pathlight is the source-of-truth for managing day-to-day team performance for fast-paced, customer-facing teams.

By combining team and individual performance metrics with powerful coaching and communication tools, Pathlight empowers managers and reps to focus on what matters: results.

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