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A self-proclaimed nerd falls in love with technology, cybersecurity, and Delinea

As part of the Delinea Leaders interview series, we interviewed Phil Calvin, Chief Product Officer. Phil leads the product, engineering, and team that developed the Delinea software. An industry veteran, including nearly a decade at Salesforce.

Phil shares his management philosophy and product philosophy, as well as the ups and downs of his own technology journey and the importance of doing what you love

Q: When did you discover your love of technology?

I’ve been developing software since I was 10 years old. Here’s how nerdy I am: A computer magazine called Compute has published the source code for a Commodore 64 font editor, and I’d like to try it out. But since I was 10, my mom only bought me a baby version, the Commodore Vic 20. So I wanted to learn how to write a font editor for Vic 20 and it works.

I submitted it to a magazine for publication, but they sent me a rejection letter because I forgot about the ability to save fonts, one of the main features of font editors. Ok, I forgot a feature but I’m only 10 years old! That was the beginning of my geek career.

Q: What is it about your current job that makes your heart beat faster?

I like to tackle very difficult problems, evaluate people and teams, and deliver everything with a focus on customer and product quality. It is very difficult but very rewarding.

I’ve been a cow all my life. I’ve hacked into each system, played with all the different network stacks and applications, and learned everything possible.

Throughout my career, I have been involved in processes and procedures that make work safer. I’m always interested in bloody topics like communications and licensing and software industry and product management.

I have a deep understanding of the problems experienced by Delinea customers, as I have personally experienced them. I understand the question whether the customer is trying to secure the network or Active Directory deployment, or if they already have Amazon VPC installed and want to know how to manage it.

Q: What are the key features you create in your product line and Delinea products, which are quality products that make customers fall in love with them?

The most important thing we do as the Product team is to build good software. It doesn’t matter what we do if our software doesn’t work. Performance is a very broad concept for me. It’s not just about software bugs. This is the security of our software. It is user experience.

For people to like us, we must be easy to understand and use. Every customer is dealing with an explosive environment swarming with millions of products. It is difficult for customers to understand what to do. I’ve been browsing RSA and I’m amazed at the number of messages we send to our customers.
This is really crazy. So our aim is to make people’s lives easier, yes, to fall in love with our technology.

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Our products should be used by IT professionals who are not security experts.

Q: How do you build muscles for quality and perfection?

It’s easy to say that quality is the number one priority. Business is another matter.

In some workplaces, you know, there isn’t a group of people who build things well. You have to build quality into your DNA from the beginning. You can only allow shortcuts if they don’t affect quality.

As a key mechanism, I use a framework called “V2MOM” from my time at Salesforce. Meaning: Vision, Values, Paths, Challenges and Measures. Everything we do is scrutinized and measured through a lens that reflects how we want people to act in their decisions.

We have several V2MOMs. Beyond quality, we have combined our Thycotic and Centrify products under a single Delinea roof, and we are investing in the future with new platforms and improving our existing products. This is the order of importance we consider, not a list. You are not going from top to bottom.

Q: How can two businesses successfully marry?

Since we are two companies, we started with nine different product groups, each with its own machine, size and way of working. The danger here is that the customer experience is disconnected. For a company in hypergrowth mode, this is not scalable.

A phrase we use at Salesforce is “don’t submit your org chart”, so it doesn’t matter if different internal groups do different things, since it’s from one company, everything should be fine.

Therefore, we need to involve many successful teams in the development process. Instead of being organized by product, we now have four pillars: Platform, Storage, License and Fly. We have established strong working relationships between support, engineering and products. Thanks to the rich set of dashboards, we can keep track of how our SLAs are progressing. We can now create a platform that works as an integrated and functional Delinea for the future.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone who hopes to be a leader like you someday?

I believe that the most important thing to be a good leader is to care about your employees. If you’re passionate, you can help teach and guide them, whatever your leadership style. This is a big difference.

The second thing is to know more than you know, because the higher you rank in an organization, the less your life will be in organ painting. So, you can’t worry about your product, business or business. You need a curiosity that goes beyond immediate boundaries. The bottom line is to do what you love. I really like software development. I like the technical part of the job. I love the people in it. I love the challenge. If you like it, you will do your best.

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