All businesses have to weather shocks, be they recessions, pandemics, or even trends like the Great Resignation. A key to succeeding through these shocks is culture, a lesson learned and lived by Emil Sayegh, President and CEO of Ntirety. We recently had him on the BragWorthy Culture podcast to discuss how to position and deploy culture to win.
Unlike recessions or pandemics, mergers can be planned for, though they can be just as stressful and filled with challenges. Emil presided over the merger of Hostway and Hosting.com into Ntirety some years ago.
Emil was already running Hostway prior to the merger and saw a lot of synergies between the two companies. They were both focused on enterprise customers that were:
- 15 years or older
- Between $300M and $3B in revenue
- With multiple applications
- Being pushed into the public cloud
Hostway had Azure expertise, while Hosting.com had AWS expertise.
Between the two companies, they were able to cover every possible infrastructure and add a layer of management that would include security, patching, alerting, etc.
The combined company had 14 data centers and would go into these businesses and help them manage some of their assets on-premises, while moving some of them to the data centers.
Because the new company felt that it was bringing all possible IT solutions to enterprise IT — managing a company’s cloud solution and/or IT infrastructure — the name made sense.
Emil was told that the merger of two companies of this size would take many months and more likely 24 months to complete. Emil and his team managed to do it in nine months. How? A focus on culture, Emil says.
By sitting down with both management teams 90 days before the merger was finalized, Emil was able to make sure that both sides saw eye-to-eye on how to integrate services, introduce new tools, and welcome new faces — all while remaining focused on customers. In these discussions, they saw that the synergy between the two companies wasn’t just functional, it was culture-based as well.
Rather than just asserting that cultural similarity to employees from both companies, Emil flew to the different Hosting.com locations around the world to introduce himself and to assure team members that the culture they loved wouldn’t change and would be part of the new company. Emil credits those early trips not only with making sure the merger went smoothly (and quickly) but setting up the paths of leadership for the future combined company.
The Ntirety Culture
Ntirety promises to personally know each client’s infrastructure, applications, and team from end-to-end, to deliver comprehensive and transformative solutions designed with each client’s business goals in mind. It delivers this service using the best people in the industry.
How do you get the best people in the industry? Turns out that a recession and the Great Resignation can help a lot.
Emil sees culture as a competitive advantage. When other companies are micromanaging or wondering if their employees are giving their all, companies with great cultures know that their employees — who are totally bought into the mission — are 150% committed.
This means that with current cybersecurity job postings, many mid-level businesses cannot compete with the pay, benefits, and culture that a company like Ntirety brings to the table, which allows it to scoop some A‑players.
The best people in the industry also have to start from the bottom, and even there Ntirety has its nets out. It offers summer internships to undergraduate students to allow both sides to “try before they buy,” allowing Ntirety to offer the most promising students jobs right after graduation. Emil sees this as a homegrown “farm program.”
The Great Resignation allowed Ntirety to focus on its own team members as targets for promotion. Emil shared one case with us in particular, a VP of sales who had started as frontline as possible but moved to sales executive, then manager, then director, and now the VP position.
Emil notes that an important aspect of being ready for promotion is developing those around you, so at least one person can fill your role. By making yourself indispensable in your current role, you make it difficult for people to promote you. Be prepared for the role you’re looking for and, in so doing, prepare someone else to take on the role you’re fulfilling now.
One step removed from direct recruitment is creating content, and that’s something Ntirety seeks to do a lot. By writing about and discussing the important issues in cybersecurity, it attracts readers who care, who are also likely to be working in that industry, and it’s one short step from reading thought leadership in a field to wanting to work for one of those thought leaders.
Staying the Course
As Ntirety continues to navigate the future, Emil has three principles that he keeps at the forefront of his mind:
- Not making promises you can’t keep
On the last one — unkept promises — Emil saw the negative snowball effect on morale that taking away fancy benefits can have. Instead of offering fluffy benefits like constantly catered-in meals, companies should focus on benefits that are sustainable and desirable, even during hard times.
Something Emil experienced in his own life was people believing in him and speaking that belief into him, even when he didn’t see qualities in himself that others clearly saw. That encouragement pushed him along a career trajectory to becoming a CEO and being known as someone who could turn around situations, which is how he came to be at Hostway in the first place.
That’s something he now encourages in his leadership team: having the courage to mentor team members who don’t lack talent but lack confidence. By offering counsel and wisdom, these team members can develop to their fullest potential. Proactively offering mentorship takes its own sort of courage, of course, but Emil sees that as part of a winning culture.
If mentorship doesn’t get extended, the logical consequence will be that these talented individuals will continue to make mistakes that inadvertently sabotage their careers. Then no one, including themselves, can benefit from the talent that might have been allowed to shine.
Emil walks the walk with this expectation by having a lot of one-on-ones with team members who ask him for them. He believes that until you talk to and get to know your up-and-coming team members, you’re not going to know who’s going to take the ball and run with it.
Check Out the Full Episode
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