Blog

Commvault’s Bob Hammer Demonstrates How Vision and Risk are Inextricably Linked to Successful Leadership

Commvault is a powerhouse in all things data. But it wasn’t always that way. Chairman, President and CEO of Commvault, Bob Hammer, took a formerly small data protection company and completely transformed its business model. While members of the company’s board questioned why Bob would take such a risk, Bob saw no future in the company’s current business plan. “We either execute the new game plan or we die,” Bob stated. “There was no alternative or plan B. The company was worth about three cents a share had a market cap of about $30 million. I cut the company back to about 70 employees when I got in there. And we executed our plan.”

The result was a company that is ranked number one in this field in Gartner’s magic quadrant. The market cap is now over $3 billion and the price per share has increased from three cents to over $70 a share with approximately 2,500 employees. As part of this month’s Executive Circle Leadership Series, Bob shared some of the insights that he has gained as an industry leader and risk taker.

Execute or die

During the discussion, Bob focused on the need for companies to define and execute a sustainable, long-term strategy. In the technology sector, this certainly requires good analytics. But Bob believes that many decisions need to be made based on intuition. “At the end of the day, if you’re not thinking three to five years ahead of the market, you can’t react fast enough,” declared Bob. “You have to make decisions based on your gut and where you think things are going, in order to create a long-term vision and have the courage to act on it.”

Bob sees the right mindset as constantly taking bold risks and then making adjustments along the way. He feels that a successful leader is continually seeks out long-term differentiated value and then releases of areas of a business that have commoditized. Then, keep making changes to expand the business, sustain it and grow it profitably. “I always have to have a vision of where we’re going,” Bob stated. “It has to be clear in your head and you got to be able to communicate it to the company. Then, the assumptions that go into that vision need to be tested all the time. That’s a daily drill. Every 90 days I go back and make sure all the elements of the strategy fit together. We do that as a team, because testing the assumptions behind decisions and make sure they’re correct in a fast-moving world is really important.”

Bob also firmly believes in building a strong corporate culture. “I just believe in its fundamentals in terms of how you drive innovation and the fact that it doesn’t happen by accident,” said Bob. He cited the need for structured programs and processes that are put into place to ensure sustainability of a strong culture, especially on a global basis. This culture must be driven down to every level of the organization, including the hiring and onboarding process. “Our culture is focused on innovation, on execution for high-impact results, on collaboration, integrity, respect, and for having a passion for what you’re doing,” Bob explained. “You have to establish the highest ethical standards. That requires a constant education of the employee base to enforce those standards, because these different cultures may have different ideas of what is ethical and what’s not.”

“The other thing that I think is really important is you always put your company hat on first and keep your ego out of it,” Bob said. “You need to do the right things for the company, its employees, its customers and shareholders. And that has to be a pervasive part of the culture of the company. And it certainly needs to be a dedicated part of the culture of the leadership. At the end of the day in this marketplace, we all have to be comfortable in dealing with and managing constant disruptive change.”

Just like Commvault, any organization seeking long-term success must continuously go through times of substantial change. Click here to learn about the various training solutions that The John Maxwell Company offers to help leaders during those transformative times. And, stay tuned for the next edition of our Executive Circle series with President & Chief Culture Officer at cabi Clothing, Kimberly Inskeep, coming later this summer.