The Different Facets of Growth: Perspectives from SaaS Leaders

Growth encompasses everything we’re trying to do in both business and in our careers. It influences the decisions we make and the relationships we nurture. It influences what we learn and what we teach. Everyone wants to grow, and yet we each have different ways of achieving growth, and our own unique perspectives on it.

How unique? That’s what I wanted to find out.

So I spoke with four accomplished tech professionals about the different facets of professional growth. Learn how these leaders view growing a team, growing a business, and growing a career.

What has growth meant to you in your role?

Everything! I’ve always thought I need to at least 10X the value and salary I bring to a company. That motto has definitely accelerated my career and led to numerous company acquisitions. Most importantly, growth takes a village and it isn’t just one or two departments that contribute to it, so you get to be super cross-functional.

Partho Ghosh, Senior Director of Product, Growth, Hootsuite

 

Growth exposed me to so many problems (and solutions) that I feel I learned 20 years’ worth of experience in 5 years. it has made me a generalist capable of talking sales, product, hiring, data, and engineering on the same day without feeling stupid about it. This increased exposure has enabled me to cross-pollinate ideas and solutions between functions and problem spaces to come up with innovative solutions.

Sylvain Giuliani, Head of Growth & Operations, Census

 

Seeing how I can help more people achieve their goals as I find more ways to expand my and their scope and build spaces for them to thrive.

Ryan Sorensen, Engineering Manager, Trello

 

I think of growth from a holistic perspective to ensure that our growth is sustainable. I use the concept of a “triple bottom line” where I aim to balance:

  1. Revenue growth,
  2. cost efficiency, and
  3. team engagement.

It’s important that we grow, but that growth is not at any cost, and that our team is not burning out in the process.

David Apple, Chief Revenue Officer, Zingtree

How do you define growth on your team and at your company?

I lead the Product Growth department at Hootsuite, so our Northstar metrics are around Product Adoption and Stickiness. These two of course combine directly to both early (read:trial) and late churn. Our Activation and Acquisition teams also focus greatly on the conversion rate of trials and our free product, which ties our ARR growth.

Partho Ghosh, Senior Director of Product, Growth, Hootsuite

 

Growth is about building automatic systems that focus on improving the rate of growth of metrics to get the benefits of the compound effects. It doesn’t matter if it is a lead acquisition system, an activation system, etc.
Sylvain Giuliani, Head of Growth & Operations, Census

 

Becoming more powerful and courageous, handling more ambiguous problems, and bringing more solutions to life. Overall, at the company, we talk about scope and impact for folks in their role.

Ryan Sorensen, Engineering Manager, Trello

 

As the CRO, I’m focused on the lagging indicator of ARR growth. The leading indicators are the KPIs we obsess about in order to predict whether or not we will achieve our ARR goals.

David Apple, Chief Revenue Officer, Zingtree

How do you grow and scale a high-performing team?

It’s all about building a great testing and experimentation culture. Never shaming failures and always learning. For hiring, going out of your way to find people who are always curious and interested in learning.

Partho Ghosh, Senior Director of Product, Growth, Hootsuite

 

I’m a huge believer in “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Therefore, I aim to hire as many diverse skillsets as possible. This allows you to build systems that can take input (experiments, campaigns, ideas, etc.) to achieve more (increase conversion rate, revenue, retention, etc.). The more people you add to the mix, the more inputs you can feed into the system

Sylvain Giuliani, Head of Growth & Operations, Census

 

Find the shared value set of the folks on the team that aligns with that high performance — things like humility, transparency, bias-towards-action, collaboration, and goal orientation. Distill those down, make them explicit and reinforce them, and bring in new folks who want to thrive in that environment.

Ryan Sorensen, Engineering Manager, Trello

 

You have the patience to hire great people. Once you have them onboard you care for them, value them, trust them, help them grow, and give them a voice. If you do this well, everything else falls into place. If you fail to do this, your highest performers will leave.

David Apple, Chief Revenue Officer, Zingtree

What advice can you offer professionals in your field looking to grow in their careers?

Firstly, become test and experiment-oriented. Really fall in love with the problem because the solution you think will work (even if it has in your last experiences) probably won’t. Get used to not having all the answers and being resilient while you are experimenting.

Partho Ghosh, Senior Director of Product, Growth, Hootsuite

 

Growth people are super open-minded & curious people that love to solve problems. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone. They will give you new ideas, experiments and show you new ways to solve problems. Your “meeting rate” on cold outreach will be amazing, I promise.

Sylvain Giuliani, Head of Growth & Operations, Census

 

Be curious, helpful, and human. You’re more than your role, and you have special skills that you can use to help everyone you work with. Finding new arenas to express those skills grows your skills, and those relationships are the things that last.

Ryan Sorensen, Engineering Manager, Trello

 

Don’t pay too much attention to generic career advice!

David Apple, Chief Revenue Officer, Zingtree

Julia Beech
Julia Beech
Executive Network Coordinator

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