These 3 Companies Just Made Big Hires. Meet the Newest Leaders on Their Teams.

Leaders at Mersive, Red Canary and Evolve share what plans they have for the future.
Written by Colin Hanner
September 28, 2021Updated: September 28, 2021

What do a former chef-turned-engineer, a former chief marketing officer at Google Cloud, and a former head of product at Amazon have in common? 

They’re all new leaders at some of Colorado’s fastest-growing tech companies. 

As summer begins to wind down, a wave of new hires who departed their previous roles at the beginning of the “Great Resignation” in mid-2021 appear to be finding new jobs that align with their professional and personal ambitions. These three new leaders — who have accepted leadership positions at Mersive, Red Canary and Evolve — are no exception.  

Yet the road ahead isn’t a straightforward one. Dealing with change is a common theme at all three companies. These leaders shared with Built In Colorado how they’re accommodating it in a steadfast and calculated way to help prepare their respective businesses for the future. 

 

Tom Stephens
Sr. Director of Engineering // Mersive

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What position are you stepping into? What's your professional background? 

I’m stepping into a role as the head of engineering at Mersive. My background is a bit crazy: I’ve done a bit of everything, from training to be a chef, to some time in theater and visual art, to stumbling my way into engineering. I spent my career in engineering trying to challenge myself as much as possible, working on everything from mobile dev, robotics, embedded systems and plenty of web. 

Though after about a decade slinging code, I found myself really drawn to leadership. I love the chaotic, non-deterministic nature of working with people. I was brought in because of my passion for people and helping them work together. With my own background being a bit unusual, I have a keen recognition that people have to kind of find their own path. Each person is a bit different and being successful in leadership is somehow figuring out how to allow each person to be at their best while somehow aligning that towards company goals. These things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, and figuring out how to make them part of the same path (at least for a while) is, to me, the heart of the leadership problem.
 

I’ve found the people who are in the weeds are typically the best resource for finding out what needs to be improved. So that’s where I’m starting.”


Beyond onboarding and getting up to speed on the internal workings of your new team, what’s your first order of business in your new role?

My first order of business is really to understand the challenges the teams are having. I think it’s Richard Branson who is kind of famously credited for saying that you take care of your employees first and then they will take care of your customers. That’s the general approach here. 

The pandemic is still all around us, and though we’re doing well as a largely remote team now, it was a unique challenge for us all to learn how to do it initially. We’re coming off of some major innovation initiatives that prepared us for the new hybrid workplace, but our team is a bit worn out. How can we reinvigorate everyone? How can we make sure we’re cleaning up tech debt, giving engineers a chance to breathe, and ensuring our customers are getting the best product we can make? It’s a tough balance to strike, but taking care of people first is how we get there. I’m spending a lot of time now trying to hear from everyone, understand what they do and learn about the challenges they’re facing. I’ve found the people who are in the weeds are typically the best resource for finding out what needs to be improved. So that’s where I’m starting.

 

Rick Caccia
Chief Marketing Officer // Red Canary

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What position are you stepping into? What’s your professional background? 

I was born and raised in Silicon Valley and my career has been primarily in VC-backed enterprise tech. Red Canary is my eighth VC-backed company in almost 30 years, and I love working at fast-growing companies and watching them become major players in their markets. I started my career in systems integration, and then moved to product management, eventually running marketing. I’ve been through an IPO and multiple acquisitions, and I came to Red Canary from Google Cloud, where I was the CMO for the security business unit.

I was brought on to help the company extend its marketing capabilities as we grow the business and become a multi-product, public company. 
 

I was brought on to help the company extend its marketing capabilities as we grow the business and become a multi-product, public company.”


Beyond onboarding and getting up to speed on the internal workings of your new team, what’s your first order of business in your new role?

Red Canary is growing very quickly and was facing the usual challenges during such growth. My first order of business after joining was to smooth out some of the bumps in how marketing operates here. For example, we went from a single-product company to a multiple-product company, and that required updates to our product pitch. We didn’t have an analyst relations program and so we needed to formalize one. 

The project I am most excited about is customer marketing, since having happy customers is a great way to stand out from the security crowd. For example, in the ransomware attack that hit the world over the Fourth of July, none of our customers suffered any significant effects. Telling the story — in a gentle way — of how Red Canary helps protect companies is more valuable than a large billboard or crazy airport ad.

 

Balaji Nageswaran
Chief Product Development Officer // Evolve

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What position are you stepping into? What’s your professional background? 

I will be leading and supporting the growth of our engineering, product and experience design teams as Evolve’s chief product development officer. For the past 25 years, I’ve worked with teams in the U.S., Europe and Asia to develop software products across many different industries. In the most recent decade, I spent seven years at Amazon in Seattle, learning to launch several products and businesses from the ground up, which meant getting those first 100 customers and then scaling those businesses to reach millions of customers globally. 

My main responsibility is to deliver results for the company by focusing on four main levers: people, product, process and partnerships.
 

Part of my role is to create a safe environment where teams feel empowered to make the right decisions, achieve our goals, and deliver business results.”


How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your new role?

I have three guiding principles. The first is trust and accountability. Part of my role is to create a safe environment where teams feel empowered to make the right decisions, achieve our ambitious goals, and deliver business results. 

The next is transparency and openness. I believe in giving continuous feedback to my teams by creating a safe environment and also getting feedback from them so I can also evolve. 

And the final principle is to hire and develop the best. My job is to create leaders and help my teammates grow professionally, regardless of whether someone is an individual contributor or in a leadership role.

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