Todd Riesterer, Chief People Officer at LogicMonitor, has devoted his career to helping leading-edge technology companies scale their business by curating high performance growth cultures.
He has led large global human resources teams for iconic software companies such as VMware, McAfee, Business Objects, and Cadence Design Systems, while more recently taking the Chief People Officer helm at emerging, hyper-growth companies like Kony.
He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His roots are in Wisconsin proudly wearing the “Cheesehead” banner. He and his wife of many years have three children and a daughter-in-law.
They enjoy boating, being rabid fans of their favorite teams, and participating in all of the fine music and culture Austin has to offer.
Connect with Todd on LinkedIn.
Intro: [00:00:01] Broadcasting live from Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for Learning Insights, featuring learning professionals improving performance to drive business results.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:15] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of Learning Insights Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, TrainingPros. Without them, we could not be sharing these stories. Today on Learning Insights, we have Todd Riesterer with LogicMonitor. Welcome, Todd.
Todd Riesterer: [00:00:32] Thank you. Glad to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] Well, before we get too far into things, tell us about LogicMonitor. How are you serving folks?
Todd Riesterer: [00:00:40] So, we are high-growth, hypergrowth actually, cloud-based IT infrastructure monitoring company with an observability platform. So, that’s the official language, but putting it into HR persons’ terms, we help IT teams get awesome visibility and insight into their infrastructure, so they can tell other systems are working and how they can improve them.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:05] So, now, talk about your role as Chief People Officer.
Todd Riesterer: [00:01:11] Yes. So, I lead all of our global people operations around the globe. And we’ve got a couple of different categories. We’ve got the acquisition, talent acquisition machine, where we are bringing in some of the best and brightest. And we’ve got the areas where we are retaining folks, and engaging them, enabling to do their best work from a learning, and development, and comp, and benefits and rewards. And then, we’ve got workplace experience and diversity initiatives to kind of round out all the areas that help us make the people successful in their careers.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:47] So, now, in this kind of a pandemic climate, how has that impacted your role?
Todd Riesterer: [00:01:53] I mean, it’s pretty crazy. They don’t teach this in college and, certainly, something I haven’t experienced in the many years I’ve been doing this. And probably the craziest part was, I think, like almost all companies, technology companies, we kind of made a decision to send everybody to work from home around the globe in nine different countries and offices around the world with about a five-day notice. And so, how do people do their jobs? How do you keep a culture going? Here we are, nine months later, and still kind of going at it. I mean, it just turned the world on end.
Todd Riesterer: [00:02:29] And so, everything, we kind of figured about how do you engage with your teams and how people engage and do their work had to change overnight. And it has just been fascinating. What a cool thing to see how adaptable and how much perseverance our teams have really to say … use the word agile in product development, I would say our team has proven to be very agile during these times.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:54] And resilient. I mean, a lot of these folks are juggling a lot of things when you say, all of a sudden, now, your home is also your workplace. That’s tough for a lot of people.
Todd Riesterer: [00:03:07] Yeah. And for many years now in the HR community, there’s this word of bringing your whole person to work. And I like to use the word personal-professional harmony. I think it better explains versus work-life balance, which is kind of a traditional term. And it just brought it to the forefront immediately. And the level of empathy, and understanding, and kind of having it forced upon every person in the company, when you see into the senior leaders and the places they work, and you see kids and dogs in the background through every person in the organization, I think that’s been one of the real challenges for people is how you keep a personal-professional harmony alive and well. But to have companies really take a major step forward, understanding and supporting it, it’s certainly here in LM, it’s been something that everyone is proud about and excited about.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:57] Now, you mentioned culture early on. And culture is one of those things. If you’re not intentional and mindful about it, it’s going to form anyway, so you might as well put some effort into it. What are some of the things that LM does in order to kind of have the culture that you’re proud of?
Todd Riesterer: [00:04:15] So, I agree with what you said. I believe wholeheartedly that I would say kind of name and claim it. You’ve got to be purposeful if you want to put your stamp on it because, otherwise, it’ll be very ad hoc and continually evolve and change. It can feel very different in different parts of the organization in the world. And I’ve done this now at a couple of companies. When I joined, I sit down with a great number of people who have been great performers and have been around for a while, and I asked the simple question, why did you come and why did you stay?
Todd Riesterer: [00:04:51] And with that, as well as interviewing the executives, what we want in a company, we put together a kind of three-slide culture story with the headline about who our people are, our values underpinning to it all, and then the different pillars that people highlighted about the few reasons why the best and brightest have come and and chosen to stay. So, we’ve got a really good story that kind of knits everything that we do together around building this, very purposeful about our culture.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:23] So, what are some of the highlights of that story?
Todd Riesterer: [00:05:26] Sure. So, the lead story is that we call our employees LMers. And the definition is a group of brilliant innovators fiercely advancing the future by IT. And that was just the theme that stood out more than anything else as I talked to some of the people who are, again, proven performers, have been around, “Why’d you come?” They’re about innovation, and leading-edge products, and changing an industry. And that’s what we’re doing. So, that’s the headline.
Todd Riesterer: [00:05:54] Our three values that kind of underpin it all are one team, better every day, and customer-obsessed. And I think they’re really cool. I’ve seen most companies, many I’ve been involved, have five, six, seven, eight values. These three serve the purpose and can be really powerful. Everybody remembers them. We weave them into everything we do.
Todd Riesterer: [00:06:14] And then, the five specific pillars that people would call out about what they really like about our culture, and what keeps them here and keeps them on the right path are the people, being around other very smart, passionate people. I believe an iron sharpens iron. And so, that’s a really big reason people stay is they like the tribe they go to work with. Purpose, the purpose we’re up to, again, changing the IT industry. Our product, I alluded that earlier, just truly kind of tip of the spear from a technology perspective. Learning and growth is the fourth one. When you hire best and brightest people who are up to big things in life, we’re on our toes in HR to have to be making sure we’re offering learning opportunities. And then, the last one is shared success. So, we are a pre-IPO company, and we continually are advancing the rewards and recognition to every employee. LMers got stock. So, that’s also a big draw for people. So, that’s the story. In every program we roll out and keep falls into one of these categories.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:18] So, now, you talked about kind of getting better every day. And I’m a big believer in this kind of compounding of little gains over time. How do you measure that though? Because it can be so small and incremental but it’s difficult to measure.
Todd Riesterer: [00:07:34] Yeah. Well, I truly believe in we believe that if you want to, you can only expect what you inspect. So, measurements and data are everything. And I also agree with you that the small wins are the way you kind of build big victories. So, what we’ve done is I take that on two fronts. One is on each individual LMers front, we’re measuring near-term, short-term successes and progress. And then, the company’s front. And obviously, the company will be a result of each LMer every day getting better and accomplishing more.
Todd Riesterer: [00:08:10] So, one of the things we did is we tore out of the annual performance appraisal. It just really doesn’t serve any good. If the company only had to show up once a year and worry about what our results are like, maybe that would be okay. But guess what? We report to boards of directors every quarter and, really, every month, we are measuring things. So, it only makes sense that employees and LMers would be measuring their progress.
Todd Riesterer: [00:08:34] So, we have what we call LMRPs, LMer Readiness Plans. And they are a tool and a forum for every LMer. It’s kind of their contract with their manager about what their goals are, both on a professional basis, doing their job, how they’re doing it better, and a development basis. So, LMRPs are the kind of scorecard of managers. And each LMer, weekly one-on-ones, they’re tracking how they’re doing against the performance goals they’ve got and the development goals. And they both can put comments in there. And it’s kind of taking the Agile, as they talked about earlier, process down to each individual LMer level.
Todd Riesterer: [00:09:13] By the time you get to the end of the year, you’ve got a whole year’s worth of of progress kind of tracked throughout the year. You can add goals, you can delete them, you can close them off. So, it’s really a powerful way to track a day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out progress. And we do the same thing with the company. We’ve got a company scorecard. We report up to the full company once a month on how we’re doing against the key metrics. And then, certainly, every quarter, there’s a more formal report out. So, I think the two really do work well hand in hand, and as you said, help the small wins stack up to big victories over the long run.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:51] Now, how are you guys handling kind of diversity and inclusion? Everybody kind of gives lip service, at least, to diversity and that’s what we strive for. Is there anything in place that is kind of specifically geared towards attracting a more diverse workforce?
Todd Riesterer: [00:10:10] Yeah, it’s obviously kind of a big buzz for a lot of companies. We take great pride in that. We’ve had a culture that’s really built on creating a diverse place that’s respectful of everyone’s beliefs and who they are. But this year, it was a good impetus for us to really look at what we’re doing. And once again, become more purposeful, become more strategic, and get aligned on how we’re really ensuring that our workplace is a place that moves the needle and is a place that we’ve got very diverse thinking. I absolutely believe and we’ve always believed here that successful companies don’t just major in diversity, and equality and inclusion because it’s the right thing, which it is, and also because it is what drives business results.
Todd Riesterer: [00:11:07] And what we did when we got more purposeful, we kind of decided we’re going to go at this in two ways. One is empowering our LMers to kind of move the needle. So, we’ve got learning opportunities, ongoing education, unconscious bias training, we’re bringing outside speakers, we have community groups, many community groups that people can participate in with their peers, race issues, to have a dialogue, people of color is one, Women at LM is another, and Pride is the third. Those are three of our big ones, including LM Care Philanthropy group. So, there’s about three or four that we have about 30%, about a third of our LMers are actively involved in. And so, that’s the first branch is empowering our LMers to learn, participate and impact change.
Todd Riesterer: [00:11:55] Then, the second one is what can we, as a company, do to create opportunity for underrepresented groups who are battling equality? So, what we’ve done there is on the recruiting front, in addition to, of course, trying to become a workplace that is very comfortable, and respectful, and inclusive that people of all different underrepresented groups want to work at, we also decided that technology as a whole needs a significant number of increased people coming into the workforce from these underrepresented groups.
Todd Riesterer: [00:12:30] So, we’ve partnered with Code College, an awesome organization based in Austin, that introduces high school students actually from underrepresented groups, really specifically people of color, as well as women, into technology careers very early. And Internxt is an intern program that Vista, our owners, have introduced. And we have a significant number of interns that we brought on through them and we convert to full-time. So, both empowering LMers to make a difference in their communities and their day-in day-lives and the company itself creating opportunities.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:05] Well, kudos to you, because a lot of hypergrowth companies just don’t kind of make the time to invest in those underrepresented groups like that. And hats off because that’s important, and you’re role-modeling that behavior for other up and coming hypergrowth companies that is possible and it’s worth doing.
Todd Riesterer: [00:13:30] Yeah, well, thank you for that. And again, I do think we’re values-based company. Vista, certainly, our owners, are extremely big in in creating opportunities, and our executive team is. And I would just say, again, that we 100% believe it is what helps drive value in an organization. So, we do it because it’s the right thing and because a diverse workforce is a key enabler to business success.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:58] So, now, any advice for the young people out there, maybe your potential employees, like what should they be doing to get on your radar, to get kind of plugged into your world, and kind of join your team?
Todd Riesterer: [00:14:11] Yes. So, certainly, obviously, be looking for our website and other places that we post jobs. And if we don’t have a job posted, people can apply and make contact with their talent acquisition team. We are always out proactively trying to make conversations and build networks of of talented people from all levels of experience and walks of life. So, I would say that’s number one. And be keeping up to date on our industry and our website. We just had a big product release. Understand what this infrastructure monitoring space looks like and how it’s evolving. It’s a fast-moving, one of the most exciting places in technology to be working right now. So, stay up to date on that.
Todd Riesterer: [00:14:59] And then, the two things that we kind of use as a moniker on here about what we look for is skill and will. Skill and will. It’s got a nice ring to it and it happens to work. So, I’d encourage everybody to think about what skills are you building, what are you adding to your repertoire that you can offer to a company around learning about technology, learning about whatever your area of focus is. If it’s HR, or if it’s engineering, or marketing, keep adding to your skills, take classes, go to seminars. And then, will, display in your personal life and, certainly, in your professional life going above and beyond and the desire to be passionately making yourself better. If you keep doing those things and reach out to us, I’m sure there’s a fit because we are scaling and growing our workforce by about a third every year.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:51] So, now, how has this kind of work-from-home environment and this remote environment impacted the way that you onboard somebody, and then kind of immerse them in your culture?
Todd Riesterer: [00:16:05] Yeah, it’s a great question because as you might imagine, we can all guess, it’s a real challenge. And I think we’ve known for years or centuries that people learn best and gain energy and commitment when they are physically in communication stronger, when we’re face to face with each other and with each other physically. So, can you remove that? On the spur of the moment back in March, feels like way back when, you kind of have to rethink all of that. So, certainly, using tools and technology as everybody else. Zoom and Slack has been really key for us. And we run different courses. Day-long sessions aren’t going to make it. You can’t expect somebody to be on Zoom for a day. So, you put the learnings into more bite-sized pieces and kind of scatter them up through the first couple of weeks.
Todd Riesterer: [00:17:06] And you have to intersperse. And we’ve gotten very creative with online kind of games and events to have people socialize with each other and get to know each other more. And it really has been, again, I’d say, a much more purposeful kind of bite-size pieces of different events, and learning, and training curriculum, and much more conversational like we’re doing here versus everybody showing up the first two days on the job, and in a big classroom, and going through one PowerPoint slide after another. So, in some ways, it’s a better way to really kind of get somebody indoctrinated. But I tell you, we still are missing the human-to-human contact and the energy that comes from that.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:49] Now, have you figured out a way to kind of replicate some of the look-over-your-shoulder or be-a-fly-on-the-wall-in-a-room while something else is happening, and then going back and debriefing, and creating those kind of serendipitous learning opportunities?
Todd Riesterer: [00:18:07] Yeah, it’s a real challenge for sure. And again, I’d say we go back and use the tools and technology that exist. And we do use Zoom conference calls, and some teams kind of stay on them for extended periods of time as they’re going through to kind of shadows, as I think you’re alluding to, somebody else. We use phone technology when we’ve got people making customer calls and new people coming in who are doing business development or sales to be able to kind of patch in with more experienced folks who are leading the charge.
Todd Riesterer: [00:18:43] And then, we’re better at doing kind of perception debriefs. So, normally, you kind of have a learning session, and people go on, and maybe you would have them fill out a survey, how helpful was that? Once again, we have to kind of schedule a half hour or more and talk through after a learning session or somebody shadowing and purposely ask them, “What did you learn? What were the key things that you observed? And how are you going to bring that back and make yourself better?”
Todd Riesterer: [00:19:14] So, again, I just say – and this is I think a positive – is being more planful in really thinking through how best people learn and how we can try to replicate that versus the easier route, in some ways, is just showing up and, “Hey, go sit by Sally, go sit by Jim, and watch what they’re doing,” and hope there’s some osmosis that goes on.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:36] Right. You have to be more intentional and you have to just keep having conversations. I mean, I think this is actually creating more conversations because you have to. You have to do it on purpose. You can’t just run into them and think, “Oh, I’ll get to it later.” Like you have to schedule it and make it happen.
Todd Riesterer: [00:19:56] Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think we went through an evolution there too. Everybody went home, kind of turned on a dime. And so, then, we quickly figured out we need to schedule a whole bunch of this dialogue, and everybody is showing up to everything. And then, losing track of time here, a little bit a month or six weeks, I’m like, “Okay, there’s definitely Zoom overload at this point.” And so, then, we kind of had to settle in and figure out which sessions tend to work best for the times and how much time can people really spend on Zoom versus being off camera and doing their work.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:33] Right, yeah. I think we’re all kind of learning together in this. Now, for you, what’s the most rewarding part of the job?
Todd Riesterer: [00:20:44] Ultimately, I get really excited about two things. Certainly, I won’t try to age myself here, but I’m in the second half of my career. And when I’ve gotten to kind of this position, it becomes much less about what how to advance my career and what’s the next big mountain to climb. Personally, what gets me really excited, and it’s a lot of fun, is really pretty simple, and that’s company success and other employees’ success. I love showing up every day and being part of a bigger cause, and everybody does, and having a company that knows how to kind of measure customer satisfaction as customer obsession is very real here. And customers continuing to buy more, which they do every day. Do they like what we put out? And are we creating new products? Like a big rollout we just had yesterday of our logs. And what are customers saying about that? And are we meeting our financial metrics? So, watching that in and a company our size be able to pinpoint, “Yeah, myself and my team, we played a part in that. Big or small, we played a part in that.”
Todd Riesterer: [00:21:59] And then, the other piece is I’ve been fortunate to feel good about the success I’ve had in my career and accomplish a lot of my goals. I really enjoy helping other people. And that’s what keeps me energized in HR. I mean, in some ways, I’m kind of doing the same thing as I did the first days I started in HR in the beginning of my career, but to see new people that you meet at every company and in every department, and create career paths, and learning opportunities, and promotions, and recognition for people, it’s really fulfilling to have a part in being an HR professional. And kind of my own team’s career success and advancement, as well as those in other parts of the business.
Lee Kantor: [00:22:44] Now, as the chief people officer, I’m sure you’ve impacted lots of people in your career. Can you share a story maybe that you were working with somebody, maybe mentoring somebody, and you were able to help them get to the next level?
Todd Riesterer: [00:22:59] Yeah. I, certainly, wouldn’t put names out there, but for much of my career, I spent and was living in Silicon Valley and working in larger companies that were kind of becoming even larger than that. In about six years ago, I took a turn and started working at some pre-IPO more emerging companies. I like to stay where the clay is still soft on culture. And if they don’t show up every day, you matter. And so, the pivot for me, at that point, amongst many pivot’s going from big company, all these resources, a bunch of very seasoned, experienced people around the globe to going to an earlier stage company where there’s a lot more junior folks coming in who, every day, were kind of learning, it forced me to pivot too and have to kind of go back to my roots in the early days.
Todd Riesterer: [00:23:51] And there’s a couple of folks … and I would just use the term again, I really looked for skill and will the potential, the ability, the problem-solving ability, and the skills of knowing their craft, and then the desire to do better things and constantly learn. And there’s been a couple of folks now that have worked for me at a couple of different companies and tried to give them opportunities beyond maybe what their experience level would have dictated they were able to do. Have kind of gone out of my way to bridge geographical divides with folks. And if somebody somebody’s sitting in Europe, give them global jobs, somebody in India that was on the team I led that we gave a global job to, and that kind of worked on projects or had responsibility outside of of her own country.
Todd Riesterer: [00:24:45] And it’s just really, really exciting to see, and it’s kind of giving me a resurgence in life to go back to a team that is more in the early stages of their career, where every day is a learning opportunity, and to try to figure out. It’s probably one of the biggest parts of my job is how can I help them stretch and gain experiences beyond what their experience would maybe dictate versus, again, the bigger companies where you got a whole bunch of people who are my experience level and beyond.
Lee Kantor: [00:25:14] Well, I think it’s important to take a moment to appreciate that because the impact you’re having on those individuals impact their family and it could impact their community. I mean, it’s a big deal. And I think that we don’t spend enough time just taking moments and appreciating that kind of work because the ripples that happen from that that you may not even be aware of.
Todd Riesterer: [00:25:38] Yeah, and I think it’s a great point. And I would just say I feel so blessed because I had those mentors early in my career. I can still name them and still have relationships with them. Obviously, not giving last names, but Joe, Jonathan, Scott and Matt, four folks, some in HR, some in other lines of business that I worked with. The second job out of college that I ended up working with multiple times in my career as I would kind of follow them. And for whatever reason, they took an interest in helping me learn, and stretch, and grow. And they did that in many, many ways. Into this day, I’m personal kind of friends with them, and some other ways we’ve gotten to know each other. So, it’s just huge. I can’t imagine without those four individuals having taking chances on me how different my life would be. So, it’s kind of only fair, isn’t I?
Lee Kantor: [00:26:29] Absolutely.
Todd Riesterer: [00:26:29] You get to experience it yourself.
Lee Kantor: [00:26:32] Yeah. I think that’s important that we should be thinking of others, and serving, and helping the next group up. I mean, that’s part of our responsibility as part of this hive of humanity that we’re part of. Now, for you, what can we be doing to help you? What does LogicMonitor need more of now? Do you need more talent? I know you’re growing rapidly, so you’re probably always on the lookout for great folks. Do you need more clients? You’re all over the place. So, what can we be doing to help you?
Todd Riesterer: [00:27:05] Yeah. Obviously, you’ve hit on two big ones. And more talent is the area that I’m obviously focused on. So, we’ve got a very high bar. We have every individual coming into our business has to pass kind of a problem solving and competency assessment that’s done to keep the high bar. And so, we can’t get enough talent coming in. There’s a lot of people that aren’t able to pass; and therefore, wouldn’t be employed with us. So, really kind of high-achieving people with high intellect, and problem-solving ability, and competency. So, we can never have enough of them. As I said, we’re growing our population by a third every year. So, that’s really near and dear to my heart.
Todd Riesterer: [00:27:54] And customers, of course. We always have customers. The cool thing is we sell to any company of any size in any industry. Always need more. But without getting into details, our business has also been phenomenal and the interest in our products are phenomenal as well too. So, we are really pleased with the number we have there.
Todd Riesterer: [00:28:15] And I think the third area, then, back to talent, which is what you’re about, is how do we help people grow and progress? And I think when you get high achievers, there’s insatiable appetite so many times for people to want to make themselves better. So, continuing to have leading-edge ways that people can grow their personal and professional skills is really important. Days of kind of showing up in classrooms as the primary way of learning, I think, are long gone and not the most effective way to do it. So, how do we keep growing the smart, intelligent, highly productive and passionate people once we get them on board?
Lee Kantor: [00:28:57] Well, if somebody wanted to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on your team, or just get to know LogicMonitor. What’s the website and the coordinates?
Todd Riesterer: [00:29:07] So, I strongly suggest you could find us on LinkedIn and/or our company’s website, and it’s simply www.logicmonitor.com. And there’s a careers page there that you can find out a whole bunch about our culture and what we’re doing, as well as read the areas of our business, press releases, and some of the other information we have there. And then, there’s the contact information based in those pages as well about how to get in touch with us.
Lee Kantor: [00:29:36] Well, Todd, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Todd Riesterer: [00:29:41] Well, thank you very much. Same with you.
Lee Kantor: [00:29:43] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you next time on Learning Insights. And remember, this work would not be possible without the support of our sponsor, TrainingPros. Please support them, so we can continue to share these important stories.
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