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Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty (Part 13)

Posted on Monday, Dec 3rd 2007

SM: What is your philosophy of recruiting leadership? Is it domain expertise, leadership skills, both?

BH: Yes, yes and yes! It is all of those things. It is a cultural fit. It is an excitement. There are not many maintenance jobs given the speed that we are growing at. We are looking for people with personality for leadership, for contribution for teamwork, for someone not afraid of the distance and willing to work with the video and understand that leadership is the key, and of course clearly domain experience. It depends largely on the role. There are not a lot of people you can go to and hire away from the video conferencing industry.

SM: Is domain experience really that important?

BH: Functional experience is important. We need you to know about sales operations or product marketing. We have some new people who are learning and growing as well. It is a blend of the veteran, with the people who have tons of energy and are going crazy and want to build the next great enterprise.

We will use outside consultants to help us. We need a blend of everything. We do a lot of “best in class” and those types of solutions; the profiles of the outside world. We get that through consultants, audits, and through people we bring in. We have to bring in people from the outside because we are scaling and we need a lot of people and we need them everywhere.

SM: Is there anything you would like to add before we conclude?

BH: I think what people do not recognize about Polycom is that it is an amazing story. Not because of all of the growth, but it is an amazing geographically deployed group which is a proof point of the collaboration potential of video and voice. This ad hoc way of working in a globalized way does work.

For research and development, our Voice R&D group is based in San Jose. They work with Vancouver, who are the VoIP experts. They work with Hyderabad, Atlanta, and folks in Denmark just to get the job done – and our Wireless group is in Boulder, Colorado. We have a R&D group in Burlington, Massachusetts which does the research on the algorithms. That is a big network of people who have to work together. It is very geographically dispersed. You do not have those core competencies in one place, so if you want the best people they may sit in Atlanta or somewhere else. If you do not tap into them, you are not getting the best in class.

On the video side it is Austin, Andover, MA, Israel and everywhere we are getting the best and brightest in the world to make these breakthroughs work.

SM: You are not allowing yourselves to be constrained by geography.

BH: From day one that is what we have said. We will use our tools to solve the distace problem. Here we are as a proof point. We live and die by the video network and the voice network we have built out. This ad hoc network to connect anybody, anywhere and anytime. It is as easy as a click, or dialing a 4 digit extension. It works. Our scalability issues are not that; they are just the issues of growing management work flows. You have to scale people to run double what they did yesterday. It is really an amazing story in my mind.

SM: What you are successfully implementing and leveraging is what everyone is trying to accomplish with globalization.

BH: Without these tools, Polycom would not exist. We could not do what we do without this capability.

SM: I do strategy consulting, and I have been inside of clients where it is a geographically dispersed workforce and it absolutely does not work. The tools do not work, the culture has issues. No trust, tons of finger-pointing, communication breakdowns.

BH: It is so important. We are setting up a call for the follow-up to my recent India trip. How would we do that otherwise? What good is the trip if I can’t follow it up properly? The video conference lets us coordinate the follow-ups very nicely.

SM: It is fantastic. Thank you for your time today.

BH: Great communication is literally a click away. Very exciting, and it was a pleasure talking with you.

SM: After this conversation, Bob walked me around the Polycom building to show me all the different configurations of video conferencing, including telepresence. As I drove back, I was thinking how cool it would be for those Indian incubator funds we were discussing earlier to have Telepresence hubs in Silicon Valley to access the myriad of expertise that still do not exist in India! But wait, why only India? Why not Israel, China, Latin America? Why not everywhere?

The fact is, video conferencing remains in its early adoption phase. The benefits can be tremendous. But the world hasn’t embraced it yet.

This segment is part 13 in the series : Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty
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