Lessons Learned from Corporate Scaleups on the Scaleup Valley podcast

On the Scaleup Valley podcast, we work to expose the inner workings of scaling up presented by companies that are in the process of doing so. We do this to give our clients and community not only a basis of understanding but also all of the necessary tools to achieve this within their own sectors, verticals, and markets. 

Of course, we understand that different stages of growth call for different strategies and techniques, which is why we segment our podcast to present key learnings from all sides. 

Today, we’d like to go back and look at all of the lessons learned from Corporate Scaleups who have visited us on the Scaleup Valley podcast. We do this with the hopes of providing workable insights that will help more scaling corporates achieve stunning growth. 

Let’s get started with a Corporate Scaleup’s first priority: prioritizing your company’s goals.

Making priorities clear and easy to remember – Marc Ferré Hausmann, Managing Director at Bayer Service Center Barcelona 

When it comes to scaling a large corporate company, it’s important to clearly establish the main priorities of the business in order to keep everyone moving in the same direction. 

This is something that Marc Ferré Hausmann, Managing Director at Bayer Service Center Barcelona, spoke about when he joined us on the Scaleup Valley podcast to discuss what it takes to grow a Corporate Scaleup. 

“I think that regardless of the environment, priorities have to be very easy to understand for everyone because we need to use them every day in our work. We should be able to remember them easily, and they have to be aligned to the companion vision. Ours are safety, delivering on goals, and projects.”

As a leader, it’s important for these goals to be established and shared with all team members. If your team members can’t clearly state the company’s priorities, then you already know what you need to prioritize. 

Listen to the full episode here. 

The pillars of scaling a giant – Pedro Mesquita, MD at Fujifilm

Scaling up looks very different from the corporate perspective, and this is something that needs to be treated with its own set of rules and processes. For example, the ways in which a corporate can encourage innovation within their established model of business.

Pedro Mesquita, MD at Fujifilm, shared the pillars of revenue that they use at Fujifilm when building on their successes including a useful way to reframe innovation within a Corporate Scaleup. 

“When scaling a giant, there are two pillars for this process: organic and acquisition. In order to grow quickly, we need to show that we are investing our profits well, and we have to control both aspects. Innovation is also very important for us. But innovation is not only technology. Team management is also innovation, including how you motivate team members. This is the most challenging to control when it comes to company culture.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

Do you feel that you’re innovative when it comes to team management? If not, you may want to consider how you can further align when it comes to leadership. 

Leadership as two-way communication – Rob Sperring, Vice President at Würth Elektronik Group

At the corporate level, the role of the leadership team needs to be strong enough to trickle down across each area of the business. This is challenging – but it’s crucial to creating a positive company culture and, ultimately, aligned teams. 

When Rob Sperring, Vice President at Würth Elektronik Group, joined the Scaleup Valley podcast, he shared that the people with the best information always win. Meaning that as a leader it’s your duty to give everyone the information they need to feel involved in the company goings-on through conversation. 

“You need to react very quickly. You need to recognize where you are very, very quickly. You need to understand that things are changing and you need, first off, to prepare yourself. Communication is also very important. You have to have everybody on board at all times. They have to be a part of the decision taking process, and everybody has to be on board with the new strategy. The people with the best information win. And leadership is always two-way communication; you want people to talk to you naturally as a leader.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

Treating your team as individuals – Annemie Ress, Founder at PurpleBeach 

Part of providing team members with good information is making them feel as though they are not only valuable assets to the team who deserve that sort of intel – but also that they are individuals who bring something special to their role in the company. 

This is something that Annemie Ress, Founder at PurpleBeach, really believes makes the difference, particularly in a Corporate-Scaleup. To her, it’s all about being a CEO that knows how to connect instantly on a human-level that makes your team members and customers feel unique. 

“I’ve seen amazing examples of CEOs just jumping into the mix and connecting on a very human level with other customers and start-ups. I think there’s no such a thing as a war or peace leader. I think you have to find your leadership style and be sincere with yourself. Be authentic and adapt to the situation. Connect with your people on a very human level. In the future, the greatest leaders will be the ones who treat their teams and customers as individuals, the ones who are going to establish a connection with people.  Everyone will thrive if you think outside the box and start creating tomorrow.”  

Looking into the future, particularly given the weight of the pandemic on our shoulders, she also shared some insight into how Corporates can stay at the top of the pack. 

“The situation will change so I think there’s going to be a dialogue to see how this relation is going to develop. I think Corporates will have to adapt and change to be able to understand the true potential of the start-ups and think of them as a useful technology.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

Cultivating World Class Leadership – Marcelo Lu, President at BASF Canada

Now we’d like to take a moment to look at some of the key Scaleup Valley pillars for growing your company, starting with world class leadership. 

To us, world class leadership is all about alignment. But what is it that gives leaders a leg up when it comes to aligning with their team members?

According to Marcelo Lu, President at BASF Canada, it’s all about finding the right people, particularly in the middle of a crisis. 

“World class leadership means taking the time to bring the right people onto your team. One thing that we have to keep in mind while doing interviews is thinking how the candidate is going to manage during war time. So what I try to do in interviews and when looking at profiles is think about how this person is going to react during exceptional circumstances.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

How has your team been faring through the pandemic? If you find that people are struggling, you may just need a little bit of our next Scaleup Valley pillar for growth. 

Using radical focus to find problems to solve – Philip Clifton, Divisional Managing Director at IMI Hydronic Engineering

We’re talking about radical focus. Here at Scaleup Valley, we find that teams that can leverage the art of radical focus have a much higher chance of follow through. 

But the power comes from knowing where to put it.

Philip Clifton, Divisional Managing Director at IMI Hydronic Engineering, shared his thoughts on the challenges of keeping this radical focus when working in a large corporate environment. 

“Radical focus, for me, has to be on finding good customer problems to solve. It’s easy to get distracted as a corporate because you’re working on a great product that really won’t solve any customer problem. You have to always keep the focus on what doesn’t allow the customer to sleep at night.”  

Listen to the full episode here. 

If you have radical focus covered but are still struggling with the struggles of War Time, the Scaleup Valley podcast has got you covered. 

Keeping your vision during War Time – David Hartmann, Senior Vice President of Growth Ventures at Covestro

While uncertainty is one of the main components of a crisis, it’s crucial for leaders to maintain their vision for the company – even if it needs to be reinvented multiple times along the way. It’s better to have vision that can be amended that allows you to react to the changing circumstances than to not plan ahead for fear of the uncertainty. 

This is something that David Hartmann, Senior Vice President of Growth Ventures at Covestro, takes into account when thinking of his own leadership abilities through a crisis. 

“When you look at wartime leaders in history, the successful ones tend to have been much more capable of communicating where they want to go. Not just past the crisis, but in the longer term. And that’s something we’ve spent a lot of time doing.”

It’s easy to say that establishing vision is important – but how are leaders putting this into practice through the pandemic? Hartmann also shared his thoughts on his own actions.  

“What we need to do is think about our vision for the future, but it’s got to be simple. It’s got to be powerful. It’s got to be something that people are passionate about. I’m very happy because one of the things that motivates me, personally, is the whole drive towards circular economy and sustainability. Authenticity and vulnerability are always good things. But there’s a difference between vulnerability and panic. That fear does not translate into me panicking and losing my head and losing the company’s direction.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

The practice of over-communication – Rahul Kapai, Founder & Chief Agilist at KpiFinity and Agile Delivery Consultant of Technology + Innovation Lab at Enbridge

Something that has come up a lot in our Corporate Scaleup episodes of the podcast is the topic of communication, particularly from leaders within the company. 

But this is something that cannot be underestimated, over-practiced, or overlooked. 

Rahul Kapai, Founder & Chief Agilest at KpiFinity, expressed his goal to over-communicate as a founder without fearing of giving too much information when he joined us on the podcast. 

“Who is a leader? It’s a person who puts the interest of others over themselves. Someone who is selfless and thinks about others. Leadership is not about a title. Every person is a leader so the responsibility of the senior leaders is to empower everyone.  You need to start sacrificing yourself and think about other people first. Always show respect about other ideas and other people and empathize with them. A firefighter has never been criticised for using too much water. Over Communication doesn’t hurt, it just makes things better.” 

Listen to the full episode here. 

Diversity’s role in the creation of company culture – Ruth Poon, Country Manager Director Australia at Wurth Electronics

Part of the reason why our modes of communication are so important is that it helps to create our company culture – which is ultimately what enables a company to thrive. 

Ruth Poon, Country Manager Director Australia at Wurth Electronics, was very open about the fact that you know your company culture is working if you are able to have frank, open conversations with your team members. 

“Transparency and communication needs to be ingrained in the culture of the company. Redefining priorities has always been a key part of our company. We work together as a group and have an open conversation about what needs to be done. We have a frank conversation and think about how we are going to get through tough times. You just make it happen if the culture is the appropriate one.”

And if this isn’t something that you feel you have the ability to do at your company, you need to look inward as a leader. If you don’t feel like you can have frank conversations, then there may be information you’re lacking from your team members, too. 

Luckily, Poon gave her two cents on how to improve company culture: diverse perspectives and opinions. 

Diversity is superb to help evolve the company because there’s a wide range of opinions and views of the world. Employees are one of the most valuable assets of the company. They create the culture, they advance it. Creating a diverse world-class team is really essential.”

Listen to the full episode here. 

The Corporate/Scaleup Relationship – Peter Peek, MD/Head of Sales Netherlands at IMI Hydronic Engineering

Really, when it comes down to it, growth strategies can be boiled down to pretty simple terms. Like Peter Peek’s two prerequisites for growth. 

Growing is all about people, and people need a purpose. So you need to have a very clear goal to go for. Then people can be motivated, empowered and committed to add value to that goal. Also, it’s important to be really close with the customer. Keep contact with your market to know their needs. Those are the two prerequisites for growth.” 

One last piece of advice that we want to leave with you, comes from Peek’s words on the need for Corporates to work alongside Scaleups to create symbiotic relationships, in which both sides benefit. 

You don’t want to invent the wheel again, again and again. I believe in sharing and multiplying because if you work together you can go past and forward. It’s not clever to maintain distrust. If we really want to make our customers happy, we need to engage in collaborations to solve their problems. I struggle to delegate but it has to be done. Delegation is about trust. And you need to trust the people that you empower. And sometimes they find better solutions that the ones I thought of. It makes you more agile and it helps you while working with startups.”

As a Corporate Scaleup, are you embracing and innovating through your relationships with Scaleups? 

Learn how you can better your company through these partnerships by listening to all of the Corporate Scaleup episodes of the podcast, including this one featuring Peter Peek.