John Pora recently joined Aria as VP, Professional Services. In his role, he hopes to be a strategic partner with sales and a coach and mentor to his team to help them grow. Functionally this means he’ll be putting his 18 years of experience to good use: leading the global effort to accelerate deployment while providing customers with best practices and prescriptive approaches that they can leverage along the way.
I sat down with him to get some of his initial thoughts on Aria culture, his role and any big plans on the horizon:
Parker Trewin (PT): You’ve been at Aria for just over 2 months now, what’s impressed you so far?
John Pora (JP): Beyond the product, definitely the people and culture. It is such a fantastic atmosphere – a truly flat organization in the sense of management hierarchy. Everyone is committed to getting the job done, regardless of their role, completely entrepreneurial. Our customer list is also really impressive. The logos are some of the biggest and best in the business, and that list keeps growing. Also, did I mention the snacks? The snacks are great!
PT: What’s defines professional services success?
JP: This is a really a tough question to answer. From a customer perspective, thrilling customers who are realizing outstanding business value by using the system as they continually adopt the product and expand their footprint is a great success metric. From a functional perspective, I want a team that is seen as a trusted advisor, accelerating speed to value, accumulating and distributing knowledge as well as managing to the metrics. To me, services in a SaaS software company is about leading the translation of product functionality into business benefit and then using that knowledge we have accumulated to make our product better.
PT: What’s your current pet project?
JP: I have a few pet projects — both personally and professionally. Nothing as exciting as rebuilding an old car unfortunately! I am helping a good friend and mentor edit his book on the Seven Principles of Professional Services. This is something that we have rolled out at previous companies and it really is a great guide on how to survive in the professional services business. One of my favorites, and something we talk about a lot here, is “Always Know What Done Looks Like”. If we don’t have a clear understanding of the project objectives and success criteria, how can we (customer and Aria) ever declare a victory.
PT: Ok, here’s the biggie, what keeps you up at night?
JP: A 45lb German shorthaired pointer named Dakota.
Seriously, two things that I think a lot about in regards to the professional services team:
1) Making sure that our people, process and principles are aligned to ensure we are delivering repeatable quality outcomes to our customers.
2) Scaling the organization to meet our continued speedy growth. It is a constant juggling act to make sure you are bringing in great candidates at the right time without putting the business at risk by having too much bench time. Pretty boring I know, but these are the things I think about!
PT: What gets you into work each morning?
JP: BART − and the snacks! The idea of changing the face of Aria professional services keeps me motivated. I love building professional services firms and being able to watch the team members grow and mature every day. It is hard not to be excited when you see the list of current customers and prospects that we have! The future really is bright!