Sectigo CEO Bill Holtz has been able to create a lasting impression in every stop along his career path.
For instance, Holtz ran a $1 billion operation at Nortel in the 1990s and helped create an internal laboratory at the company to determine if they were making the right choices in R&D. Specifically, they were looking to prove if you could have a single network for voice, data and video. Clearly, that premonition worked out.
In the mid-2000s, Holtz was at Expedia as the travel site was growing in popularity. The challenge was to understand consumer habits and encounters. He spearheaded the creation of a tool that captured every single session that came into Expedia.
“So if you [signed] onto Expedia, we could replay the session and we could tell you here’s where you came in and we can see what you clicked on, how long you waited, etc. Now lots of businesses do that but in 2006 it was unheard of. It helped us recover over a hundred million dollars at the shopping cart stage.”
His latest venture at Sectigo, a company that offers enterprise identity and security solutions through TLS/SSL certificates, is an attempt to keep up with the world’s rapid connectivity. Whether it’s through mobility, Internet of Things, or other endpoints, enterprise is dealing with an “explosion” of digital identities. Holtz says there is an opportunity in providing these certificates, which are frequently needed but not all the same.
Chief Executive spoke with Holtz about C-Suite concerns on cybersecurity, how the company manages to recruit tech talent and more. Below are excerpts from this interview.
When you are talking with members of the C-Suite about security concerns, what are you hearing?
I fully understand the challenges they are going through. So when they talk to us, the conversation goes something like this: “Look, the threats are not stopping. We see our business under attack. If I look at the security world, it is changing so rapidly. People speak almost a different language when you talk about security. I can’t tell product A from product B and I can’t tell what I’m being sold. Like I can’t tell marketing from reality. Please help me out. And I want to focus on my core business.”
That’s how the conversations go something like that. And one of the things that we tried to do is we try to just be brutally honest in terms of here is where we play. I tell them, “We are in the digital identity business. We do full lifecycle management of that. We’ll install those identities for you in a very elegant and sexy way, without manual intervention, etc. And we think if you use identities and instead of a usual id password, you can protect [your data]. I can help you get to these new applicantions.”
That’s how our conversations tend to go. So we try not to stretch the truth because ultimately that comes back to bite you. But we are then able to say, on top of what we do, because we believe security’s really best done in layers, we’re able to say, “Look, here’s something you may want to look at for this. Here’s something you may want to look out for that. And by the way, these components of it here play really nice [with our technology].”
How do you recruit tech talent to the company?
If you look at Sectigo and the competition, we have gone out and we have hired the best from across the industry. We’ve done that to get the best talent, but we’ve also done that to avoid what we call tunnel vision. So we brought people from all walks of life and guess what? They have very, very different views on what the future should look like and how you get there. That kind of talent is hard to get. It’s very scarce. And part of my luck, I guess, is I have treated people well and I’ve had executives following me to more than one job. And when I was building out Sectigo and I made the phone calls, people came. People came from all walks of life to be part of what we were creating at Sectigo because my belief is look, companies don’t win. Companies win because they have great teams on the inside. That’s how they win, right. If you can’t build a great team, then you are highly disadvantaged.
We rebuilt the management team at Sectigo within 90 days. That was crucial to our success. I see people attempting to do that and for whatever reason, they can’t get it done in a short span of time. If it takes you a year or two to build a team, that’s a year or two that you could have been focusing on innovating. We were lucky and we were successful. We’ve got amazing talent and obviously that that’s showing in the results that we’re delivering.
What advice do you have to your fellow CEOs?
I would be presumptuous to think I could advise other CEOs. I would never do that. I’m still learning myself, but I can tell you what works for me. What works for me is make the tough decisions early and quickly. I see a lot of my peers may struggle with that for whatever reasons. And as I said, we built a brand-new management team in 90 days, right? So now I can focus on the business, the external piece. Make the tough decisions early and quickly. Understand that companies don’t win. Teams on the inside of those companies allow those companies to win. Sectigo isn’t winning. We’re winning because we got a great team on the inside that I think is the best in the industry. That is what’s allowing us to win.
The other thing I would say is think exponentially. Incremental thinking is not the way to succeed in business today. Think exponentially and always ask the question, why not? Why can’t we do that? The book, “Good to Great” is my guiding light. Get the right people on the bus. Get the wrong people off the bus. I’ve done that in every job. I’ve had to hire people. I have had to fire people. I’ve promoted people from the inside. If you build the best team, magic will happen along the way.
I grew up in south London, England, near the bridge. That area has produced some very good soccer players, right? And yet England has not won the World Cup since 1966. You know why? Largely because they have great individual players, but individual players don’t win games. Teams win games and they’ve haven’t been able to build a great team because you get the personalities that want to be on the news and the newspaper the next day. So, they play for themselves as opposed to playing for the team.