April 1, 2012

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Growing Pains

A Company Founder Realizes It’s Time to Step Aside

Peri Kinder

April 1, 2012

Building a company is much like pushing a giant boulder up a mountain. As founder and CEO of HireVue, Mark Newman hired the people he thought could help push that boulder higher and, for a while, it worked. But there came a time when Newman realized he was going about it all wrong.

“It was time to bring on someone who was already at the top of the mountain who could throw down a rope to help pull the boulder up,” he says. “You know when it’s time. You can fight it or push against it but you know when you’re stuck. You can be proactive about it or reactive when everything hits the fan.”

Setting Ego Aside
Newman started HireVue in 2004 after graduating from Westminster College. His online interview platform revolutionized the hiring process around the globe, helping companies identify and hire top talent. In the fall of 2008, HireVue had three employees but has since grown to more than 60 workers.

In the spring of 2011, Newman knew it was time to bring on a new CEO, someone who could take HireVue to the next level. He met with his employees and started talking through the hiring process, putting together qualities and strengths that could help the company grow. He understood uncertainty comes with any leadership change so he had to make sure there was openness, calibration and discussion.

“[The employees] put their trust in me when they joined this company,” Newman says. “We’ve always been as transparent and open as we can. The employees have to go through their own process and I owed it to them to keep them involved.”

Newman held a nationwide search to find the right CEO for HireVue.
The evaluation process included determining each candidate’s level of experience with managing boards and investors, creating opportunities for business and recruiting people to help the HireVue team become stronger.

It was important to Newman to create an authentic organization and not hire a clone of himself. He needed someone to help augment his own talents, someone to balance and complement his skills.
He knew that founders have a passion for the company—and sometimes that passion can get in the way of hiring the right person.

“Your company is your child, and it’s like you’re trying to bring in foster parents or hiring a new parent to take care of this child,” Newman says. “But you don’t need more people like you. You need to let go of your ego that could sabotage the process.”

For Newman, emotions like jealousy or competitiveness could blow up the whole transition and create a destructive environment of undermining the new CEO. He realized in order for the company to take the next steps, he had to set his own emotions aside and enter the process with an open mind.

Finding the Right Fit
After searching for a new CEO nationwide, Newman finally found the perfect person right in his own backyard. David Bradford had previously served as senior vicepresident and general counsel of Novell and is well-known for accelerating growth and performance of game-changing organizations—most recently Fusion-io.

An experienced business leader with three decades of experience with information technology, Bradford was hired as HireVue’s CEO in November 2011 after several months of meetings and interviews. Newman says Bradford’s stellar reputation and passion fit right in with Newman’s desire to build a company that would remain an on-going, important part of the technology industry.

Upon taking the helm of HireVue, Bradford was impressed with the level of competency and structure defined by Newman during his time as CEO. “Mark Newman did a fantastic job building the company. He is a true entrepreneur, where you put your own cash and credit card at risk to fund something in its earliest stages,” Bradford says. “Mark hired an outstanding management team by reaching out to experts in the industry.”

Immediately, Bradford started visiting customers across the country, letting Newman get back to what he does best: product creation. As chief innovation officer at HireVue, Newman has gone back to reinventing a process he’s already transformed. “I’m still doing the things I’ve always done. [David] is doing the things I never did,” he says.

Bradford’s connections in the industry enable him to recruit talent to the company and drive sales, which is exactly what Newman was looking for.

“I think he wanted someone with a little gray hair, someone who’d been in the industry a long time,” Bradford says. “He wanted someone to help him in areas that weren’t exactly his strengths and he helps me in areas that I’m not strong. So we complement each other.”

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