Diversity and inclusion in the workforce won’t happen because you wish it – you must take action, says #MoveTheDial Founder & CEO, Jodi Kovitz.
“Many women talk about critical turning points where someone, in a really small moment in their career, gave them an opportunity for step changes,” Kovitz told DX Journal. “If you go to a meeting with your executive team, ask if you can bring a young woman with you so she can learn. Give her a chance to contribute or make an introduction. Then get out of the way and empower her to rise to her own potential.”
#MoveTheDial was started in January 2017 when Kovitz ran the organization off the side of her desk as CEO of AceTech (now PeerScale). In January she moved into a full-time role at #MoveTheDial and has landed corporate backing from founding partners such as CIBC, TD, Osler, TWG and WealthSimple.
The mission is clear: Increase the participation and leadership of all women in tech.
“[A commitment] cannot live in an annual report, or in a strategic plan in a drawer,” Kovitz said. “It takes an active commitment at the strategic top of the house. They have to go out of their way to make it happen.”
As part of #MoveTheDial’s mission, Kovitz has been studying relationships and patterns of companies where inclusiveness is more common and where more opportunity exists for women. One of the commonalities is women being invited to a meeting, event, presentation or coffee meeting that was outside of her normal daily routine.
“Some women talk about being given a moment they didn’t think they deserved, but it was a career opportunity for step change,” Kovitz said.
Indeed, studies have shown women are more likely than men to suffer a “confidence gap”, as The Atlantic explored, where some women underestimate their abilities and performance. Kovitz has found a practical way to address this in the workplace: leadership teams and colleagues can step up by inviting women to step forward more.
Where the dial is today
No matter whose numbers you look at, it’s clear there is a lot of work ahead.
Statista used various tech companies’ diversity reports to plot gender representation within the overall workforce, and within tech jobs:
At a board level, 70 percent of startups have no women on their boards of directors.
In Canada, recent media coverage called Canada’s lack of female CEOs among top TSX companies “embarrassing.”
#MoveTheDial shared the following snapshot:
While there still is a lot of work to do to, Kovitz does believe progress is taking shape around inclusion and awareness has improved. Some examples:
- TribalScale’s TakeOver conference pushed for 50 percent of speakers being women, and Kovitz says the company credits its involvement with #MoveTheDial as inspiration to ensure there was an inclusive hiring process among its executive ranks. In January of this year Kirstine Stewart joined the company as President.
- Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, has been regularly promoting #MoveTheDial on social media.
- theBoardlist, which launched in 2015, has helped place more than 100 women on private and public company boards.
- Women and Color, an online community of subject matter experts, launched to make experts available for tech conferences and events.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (famously) built a cabinet that is the first gender-balanced cabinet in history.
- Toronto Mayor John Tory has made a pledge he will not speak on panels or at events that fail to be inclusive of genders and backgrounds.
- In the U.S. there is a new $100-million fund expressly for women founders of color.
- There is a growing conversation and awareness around female entrepreneurship, and there is a growing number of women starting businesses. Women-led firms consistently outperform global indexes and having a woman on a board is associated with increased performance.
- In the U.S., Paul Gryglewicz, senior partner at Global Governance Advisors, told BNN Bloomberg that companies like BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and State Street are using their shareholder votes to push for more women in director positions.
Moving the dial at startups VS large enterprise
While there are exceptions to every rule, Kovitz believes larger enterprises are further ahead when it comes to creating a culture of inclusiveness and diversity.
“When you’re scaling as fast as so many tech companies have to, it requires a high degree of intentionality,” she said. Kovitz said speed of growth, urgent need for talent and investor pressure are among some of the reasons startups and scaleups don’t take the time to pause and conduct a talent search that is inclusive.
Kovitz said she has found herself having to stop and deliberately design an inclusive search and hiring process now that she is running her own company, because speed of growth can quickly become consuming if you don’t curb it.
Many large enterprises have also moved the dial further along by setting up initiatives such as inclusion teams, throwing more funding at inclusiveness and setting out to build cultures of belonging.
“They’re using targets to drive toward meaningful change,” Kovitz said.
She notes Microsoft, Google and Cisco are pushing forward to move the dial. Microsoft, for example, is using its platform to push for tangible change in the number of women in STEM industries (here’s a March 7 blog post on the subject).
Kovitz’s hope is that one day we won’t need to talk about the gender of a leader because inclusiveness will be more commonplace.
“Hiring a diverse talent pool should be as important as revenue,” Kovitz said. “If you don’t do it from the outset, it’s very tricky to backfill it later. You can’t hire someone that looks like you just because it’s comfortable,” she said. “It takes more time to go broader.”
- You can find more #MoveTheDial stories on the company’s website here.
- You can also see Kovitz speak July 12 in Toronto at OpenText’s Women in Technology Summit.
- Sign up to attend the #MoveTheDial Nov. 7 at the company’s inaugural global summit.
Chris is a partner at Digital Journal Inc. (parent company of DX Journal) who has spent the last 15 years working in publishing, digital media, broadcasting, advertising, social media & marketing, data and analytics.
#ScaleStrategy Q&A: Managing the Growth Bandwidth
Tech veteran Dean Hopkins on what it takes to scaleup — and down — in both startups and enterprise organizations
#ScaleStrategy is produced by DX Journal and OneEleven. This editorial series delivers insights, advice, and practical recommendations to innovative and disruptive entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Read the first part of the interview with Dean Hopkins here.
While working at McKinsey in the 1990s, tech veteran Dean Hopkins first stepped into the world of the internet.
“This was 1993. No internet existed as we know it,” says Hopkins, now the Chief Growth Officer at OneEleven, recalling how he discovered the work of Marc Andreessen. “At that point in time, he was demonstrating his early browser concept and talking about how the future of the internet was going to be huge. I caught the bug and decided I would leave McKinsey and start my first company called Cyberplex.”
After a bit of a bumpy start, Cyberplex scaled quickly. “Cyberplex tripled every year and grew to 500 people with $50 million in revenue and $975 million market cap,” he says.
Then 2001 hit. “That was the peak of the cycle followed by a trough. It was the biggest learning experience of my career. I had to descale the company to survive,” he says. Over seven quarters, Hopkins took the team from 500 to 50 and brought the company back to profitability. He then transitioned Cyberplex to new leadership and moved on to his next challenge.
For the next 12 years, Hopkins worked as a management consultant with his own boutique firm that was focused on driving global transformation initiatives for companies such as Thomson Reuters and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.
With both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial expertise, Hopkins is now applying his global growth skills to transform OneEleven’s unique scaleup model into a worldwide Scale-as-a-Service model.
We recently spoke to Hopkins about tough lessons he learned at Cyberplex, how enterprise growth is different than startup growth, and how he’s applying these lessons to expanding the OneEleven model globally.
DX Journal: When you think back to your time when Cyberplex hit its inflection point, what did you learn about scaling?
Dean Hopkins: Culture and people were the two things that allowed us to handle both the steep trajectory both up and down. Those things got us through the crazy knee in the curve and probably more importantly, helped us when we needed to descale.
Attracting amazing people that became my partners in growth was the reason we were able to scale. I couldn’t have done it alone.
Secondly, we built a culture that was accustomed to scaling and had an appetite for growth. Our culture was about resilience, and scaling, and picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. We made it okay to make mistakes, then march on.
DX Journal: Why people and culture? Why isn’t it all of the other things?
Hopkins: It’s a great question. In a culture where the decision-making takes a long, protracted time, where risk-taking isn’t there, and where people have to analyze things to death before they can make a decision, scaling is impossible. People would crumble under the weight of scale because the number of things coming at them.
To scale, it’s important to trust that people are all working toward the same goals and are empowered to make decisions.
That’s where culture comes in. It becomes a culture that can tolerate the bandwidth of needs that come with growth. If I didn’t have both of those things — good people ready to make decisions and a culture where I allow them to do it — I would have failed to scale.
The other things like technology, offices, infrastructure, are secondary when you distill it down. Companies that are successful across different geographies, industries, offices, become that way through empowering their people and building a culture that tolerates growth.
DX Journal: When you moved out of Cyberplex and into Thomson Reuters and you were managing a large-scale transformation. How did you manage scale within an environment as big and complex as Thomson Reuters?
Hopkins: The first thing I noticed was pace slowed down dramatically. What used to take me a week or a month now took 6 to 8 or 12 months. Large organizations only have the capacity for so much change. Once I did get the ship to turn in a new direction, I moved a lot of people, revenue, cost, and dollars. I had to be patient enough to let it take hold. The experience was much more of a marathon where I had to think multiple chess moves ahead and let the game play out.
DX Journal: How do you know when to modify your approach or give up when dealing with transformation in a large organization?
Hopkins: I didn’t do a great job of it at the beginning. I pushed an entrepreneurial agenda at an entrepreneurial pace, and very quickly ran headlong into blockers. I had to adapt and use an experimentation model. I tried different levels of throttle until I got to a point where the organization was willing to accept it. I learned to read the frustration on peoples’ faces saying “okay, no more, Dean. I can’t take any more of this” and built relationships with people where they were able to tell me that.
I was able to adapt and adjust my own style to better reflect the environment. Then over 12 years, I gradually increased the tolerance for risk-taking and for change within the organization. I would work with specific people to help them increase their ability to drive change. What was first gear early on, became second and third gear closer to the end of my tenure. Ultimately, the organization became much more comfortable with making change at a higher rate.
DX Journal: What’s a scale lesson you learned the hard way?
Hopkins: I learned to hire slowly and fire quickly based on fit. One rotten apple really can spoil the bunch. As part of this, I learned to listen very closely to my people. The people on my team knew about someone that didn’t fit long before I did. By listening, and taking quick action, I saw the immediate positive impact on culture.
Finally, I learned the value of getting out of the way. By fully trusting people, providing them good direction and support when needed, it activates them to reach their full potential. All of these were learned through many failed attempts, and I have the scar tissue to prove it.
DX Journal: What signals do you use to know you’re on the right path when you start to scale something and you’re trying to measure if it’s working?
Hopkins: One of the reasons we were able to survive at Cyberplex — both the growth and the decline — is that we had very good leading indicators of the business. We had invested heavily to try and understand what our funnel looked like, what our planned capacity was, and we had the metrics dialed in. Every month and every quarter, we constantly refined our ratios so we had a really good sense of what was coming. When things started falling off the cliff, we trusted our instruments and started acting accordingly.
Read more about Dean Hopkin’s plans for expanding OneEleven globally.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
#ScaleStrategy Q&A: OneEleven’s Chief Growth Officer on Building a Global Scaleup Knowledge Base
Dean Hopkins’ is aiming to build and deploy a Scale-as-a-Service model worldwide
#ScaleStrategy is produced by DX Journal and OneEleven. This editorial series delivers insights, advice, and practical recommendations to innovative and disruptive entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. Read the second part of the interview with Dean Hopkins here.
“We’re being ambitious. We want to show scaling companies that we can scale, too,” said OneEleven’s Chief Growth Officer, Dean Hopkins, when the Toronto-based scaleup hub announced its plans to expand to Ottawa, Vancouver, London and Berlin in late 2018 and into 2019.
It’s an opportune time to expand globally as a scaleup hub.
According to CB Insights, total annual venture capital global funding “increased nearly 50% in 2017, as over $164B was invested across 11,042 deals. Deal activity was up by 11%, with both deal and dollar figures representing annual highs.”
As for 2018 so far, KPMG’s Venture Pulse Report says “for the fourth consecutive quarter, VC invested has exceeded $45 billion, and in the most recent quarter, just barely fallen shy of $50 billion once more.”
Hopkins is excited to walk the scaleup talk once again.
A tech scene veteran, Hopkins was the CEO & Co-founder of Cyberplex for more than a decade where he grew the organization from a startup to a public company with nearly $1 billion in market capitalization. During his career at Cyberplex, he also successfully managed the company through a major downsizing as the tech bubble collapsed and transitioned it to new leadership where the company enjoyed another round of growth.
Prior to joining OneEleven as Chief Growth Officer, Hopkins ran a boutique management consulting firm he founded in 2006 to drive transformation initiatives on a global basis for clients such as Thomson Reuters and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board.
We caught up with Hopkins to talk about scaling lessons, OneEleven’s growth plans and developing the world’s leading source of scaleup knowledge.
DX Journal: You have extensive experience scaling from both an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial perspective. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned?
Dean Hopkins: First off, it’s all about people. Attracting amazing people that became my partners in growth was the reason we were able to scale. I couldn’t have done it alone. ‘Hire great people and get out of their way’ became my mantra — even to this day.
The second ingredient to scale was culture. We had built a culture that was accustomed to scaling and had an appetite for growth. Our culture was about resilience, and scaling, and picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. We made it okay to make mistakes, then march on.
DX Journal: What have you learned about scaling at OneEleven?
Hopkins: Early on after I joined OneEleven, I sat in on a community lunch with about 300 people from all the member companies. At this lunch, new members are brought up in front of the crowd to say a little about their company. Then 300 people welcome them with cheers — a lot of love goes their way. After that, others come up to talk about their big wins, like raising money, landing a big customer or completing a big launch. And again, 300 people applaud and celebrate them. Well, I remember sitting there thinking, ‘where was this when I was building Cyberplex?’ I was in a hovel by myself toiling away with no community other than people that I would lean on as advisors. I never had the kind of kudos, support, warmth, love, resources that these companies have at OneEleven, and that’s when things clicked for me. This is what community is. A lot of people talk about community, but to actually see it viscerally done, made me realize I needed to recreate it in other geographies.
What we’re trying to do is get a group of companies — all individually pursuing their dreams, but collectively working together — to make sure that each other are successful.
DX Journal: You’re focused taking this OneEleven scaleup initiative global. How do you assess where you need to be?
Hopkins: A big aha moment for me around OneEleven was getting the Startup Genome report. I looked at our success in Toronto and yet our city was number 14 or 15 on their list. I said, ‘wait a minute, OneEleven is working incredibly well in the 15th best market?! What if we took OneEleven and built it out to some of the top 10 markets? That’s what led to the business plan we’re currently executing.
From there, I overlaid our partner Oxford Properties into the mix. As a large global real estate firm, this gave me the first 4 markets to go after — London, Berlin, Boston, Vancouver. We’re studying each market, mapping the ecosystem, understanding who the players are, comparing it to Toronto, figuring out what the differences and similarities are and then plotting our entry. Over the next year, we’ll be in each of those markets.
The approach to entering each of these markets will be subtly different depending on character of the market. We’ve invested a lot in meeting the community, understanding who does what to whom and how we can add value. By the time we launch in those markets, we’ll already have a reputation built up because we’ll have spent some money to support the local ecosystem. We’ll have brought some value to some of the companies there by helping them maybe come to Canada or come to one of our other markets. I view it as kind of putting some karma in the bank before we even launch in each.
DX Journal: When OneEleven enters a geography, what’s the benefit to companies and communities located there?
Hopkins: From our perspective, there are 3 key benefits to having OneEleven in your city.
The first is that we’re building the global knowledge base of scale. Each community we add is bringing a new rich set of perspectives on how to scaleup businesses. We then make that available to everybody in the peer community.
The second benefit is for the companies in each geography is an easier path into other markets through our growing global ecosystem. If a company in Toronto wants to go to London, they can access continental Europe because we have assets and relationships in Berlin.
Lastly, we are building what we call Scale-as-a-Service. This is a set of capabilities — much like you’d find on Amazon but only dedicated to scaling — that help people with the common challenges of scaling. This only gets richer and more pressure-tested the more markets we serve. We’ll have the best set of Scale-as-a-Service capabilities of anybody out there because we’re activating across companies in multiple markets.
DX Journal: Speaking of a scaleup knowledge base, as a company grows are there one or two things that really become important?
Hopkins: Entrepreneurs 100% need to think about getting away from the technical, engineering-focused orientation of their early stages. They should focus their time disproportionately on building their channel to market, building their go-to market, building their customer base, building their way in which revenue is going to come to them. Build protected paths to market that are defendable, because that’s really where the source of competitive advantage is. An entrepreneur could have the best product in the world, but if he or she can’t get it to market the company is dead. The companies that figure out how to build proprietary go-to market or protected go-to market are the ones that end up winning.
The second thing is not to underestimate the complexity of the people equation. Most founders who have reached the scaleup phase realize they need to think about organizational design, career paths for employees and what the organization will look like in 3 years. If they don’t, they will have a churn problem, which is very expensive and disruptive for the business.
The third thing is preparing for the next big round of funding. Generally speaking, people underestimate the amount of relationship building and preparation work needed. It probably takes a year or so to get ready properly. We’re trying to help companies diagnose where they are, how much runway they need and prepare them adequately for the big round, which is another league up from what they’re normally used to.
DX Journal: What books have you read that helped you get through your scaleup journey?
I’m also a big believer in a book called The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s all about finding personal motivation and that gets you through some very challenging times when you’re leading a company. There’s a book called The Speed of Trust by Steven Covey, which is all about how to engineer trust in your organization, which is essential at this level. Lastly, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore. A seminal work on how you market and build a go-to market strategy.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
OneEleven announces George Eichholzer as CTO
Scaleup hub OneEleven is building on its recent expansion plans with the announcement of a new CTO. George Eichholzer has worked previously as VP Engineering at Top Hat and has held senior positions at NexJ Systems and Oracle.
Eichholzer is an important part of OneEleven’s plans to expand worldwide in the coming months, and brings his high-level skills across a variety of sectors to the developing senior leadership team at the heart of the hub’s expansive growth.
As CTO, Eichholzer will oversee the development of new tech services and products as OneEleven supports the needs of its many growing member companies. He will also oversee the hub’s systems worldwide as OneEleven continues to expand.
“I am very fortunate to have participated in every wave of technology since computers initially showed up and eventually became ubiquitous in our daily lives,” says Eichholzer. “I am very excited to leverage what I have learned growing technology companies to make OneEleven the top scaleup community in the world.”
“As we expand into new markets and develop service offerings that address the technology requirements for rapidly scaling companies, the need for adding a seasoned technology leader to our team becomes apparent and critical to our success,” explains Dean Hopkins, Chief Growth Officer at OneEleven. “That’s why I’m so pleased to welcome George as OneEleven’s first Chief Technology Officer. With his strong background in scaling technology across various industries, particularly within startups, George will be instrumental in the future success of our scaleup hub.”
OneEleven has announced a big expansion to their Toronto office in order to offer their scaling services to more high-growth tech companies. The hub focusses on providing support to organizations during the crucial transition between the Seed Stage to Series A funding.
As well as expanding in Toronto, OneEleven is opening a space Ottawa in July and is looking to expand into Vancouver, London, Berlin, Boston, and beyond. Companies interested in joining the OneEleven community of scaleups can apply here.
OneEleven is also co-producer with DX Journal around #ScaleStrategy, an editorial series designed to help entrepreneurs and intrapraneurs scale.
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