Q&A with Vyopta CEO on the Company’s Response to COVID-19

Is remote working new to your team? Or business as usual? 

Remote working for the Vyopta team — who span North America, Europe and Asia — is business as usual. Prior to experiencing the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus outbreak, approximately 90% of Vyopta’s workforce was already working remote from home full-time or part-time. As a company who focuses on unified communications & collaboration intelligence, we had already equipped our teams with the ability to work remotely from anywhere.

How are you reassuring your team members?

As CEO of Vyopta, I am both the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Empathy Officer. Our team and their families’ come first since our team is the most valuable asset of our business. If they are not doing well, then they cannot perform well. Fortunately, the entire Vyopta team is doing well today while working safely from home.

While we do not know how long we will have to face the headwinds from this crisis, it’s my job to reassure the team that we will weather this together. I’m emphasizing the need for all team members to focus on what we can control. Otherwise, we will not effectively perform our duties to our families, the Vyopta team, and our local communities.

Our team, which includes our investors and board members, have reviewed the necessary adjustments to make as we entered this crisis, which included changes in go-to-market, product, customer services, and financial strategies and plans. We will continue to monitor, learn and respond to our business/market conditions. 

I have also scheduled a daily 30-minute standup meeting with my direct reports — and encourage that each department head more frequently communicate with their respective teams — to deal with critical situations based on news that impact Vyopta and our customers and partners. 

Finally, I continually strive — in good and challenging times as now — to ensure that the team trusts me, the leadership, and each other to overcome all critical situations together. Trust is accomplished with ethics and competence.

Ethics: Take care of the team, customers and partners – in good and bad times. Establish a partnership that supports truthful communication to share good and bad news.

Competence: Do not accept mediocrity and strive for excellence. Fix problems as they come up. As a team, learn and work to be great.

The leadership principles pioneered by Jack Welch at General Electric are no longer relevant. Forced ranking and competitive evaluation have been replaced with listening, empowerment, growth mindset, and a strong dose of curiosity.

How has this event changed the way you lead?

I more frequently share my confidence in the team to treat this crisis as an opportunity to forge a stronger Vyopta. 

I also recognize the crisis’s uncertainty and have begun to rely on information from more people such as my team, board, investors, peers, friends, subject matter experts, etc.

Have you experienced a change in tone during your team calls?

Yes, I’ve noticed that there is a greater sense of collaboration and transparency during team meetings. In this emotional, tense environment, I have found that promoting psychological safety so the team can openly discuss ideas, questions, and concerns without fear of repercussions is important. This allows the Vyopta teams to make sense of critical situations, and how to handle them, through healthy debate.

Have you learned new information about your team members’ lives and stressors? If so, how has it changed the way you lead them?

Many of our team members have young and school-age children and have added the role of home caregiving and schooling to their responsibilities. We are doing our best to support – as we have always – our team balancing their time to meet their family and Vyopta commitments with a flexible schedule. 

Have you experienced an uprising of empathy and compassion among your team? If so, how has it changed the way you work together?

Our team has responded remarkably well over the past month as the crisis worsened. We have rallied together to execute the business adjustments necessary, and I have observed an increase of camaraderie, empathy and appreciation. This is the fuel for progressing forward as a team.

What else are you doing to inspire the team at this time?

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel once said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” When handled well, a crisis can reveal new opportunities. If it is led well, then a leader can look beyond the short-term to make the best of those changes for the long-term.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vyopta is currently offering a free trial to help IT teams support massive expansion in remote work.

Alfredo Ramirez is a seasoned entrepreneur with direct experience in building early-stage software technology companies, which is why he proudly serves Vyopta as CEO and Co-Founder. A nod to his passion for pushing the button of innovation, Alfredo previously co-founded Vitalz (a venture backed enterprise software company acquired by Oracle) and Daman Consulting. He holds a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and writes about topics such as technology, employee engagement, and innovation from the CEO perspective.