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How Kinaxis added instant bench strength to its leadership team

Stratford Managers have learned the hard way from success and failure

From left to right: Chad Holliday
From left to right: Chad Holliday

Kinaxis is one of those companies that demonstrates the resilience of Ottawa’s tech sector. This provider of cloud-based supply change management solutions has gone through many iterations over its 33-year history, but its greatest watershed moment came three years ago.

Two things happened – Kinaxis went public and it earned a place in the Magic Quadrant for business intelligence and analytics platforms from influential market research firm Gartner. Megan Paterson, VP of Human Resources, remembers well what happened next.

“Prospects actually started calling us,” she said. “Considering our history had always been fighting the giants, like SAP and Oracle, this was a big change.”

But this newfound market visibility came with some growing pains.

Gearing up for a new phase of growth

Kinaxis had a history of promoting from within. Even current President and CEO John Sicard began with the company 24 years ago as a software developer.  While that strategy had made for a strong and cohesive team, it revealed a few blind spots as Kinaxis’s business expanded to a dozen countries and annual revenues shot past $100 million.

“We realized we hadn’t invested enough in our leaders, and that our leaders who had made us successful to this point needed some extra tools, training and advice to keep us successful in the future,” Paterson said.

Paterson and Sicard decided to lever some outside expertise. But they didn’t want to engage with career consultants. Instead, they sought to pair Kinaxis’s leaders with mentors and coaches who could speak from personal experience – individuals who wear the scars of building and leading successful businesses of their own.

That led them to Stratford Managers.

The voice of experience

Stratford’s consultants have lived as entrepreneurs, executives and CEOs of both small and multinational enterprises and know what it takes to scale an organization.

Two years, ago, Kinaxis began working with Stratford on some human resources initiatives. This engagement has expanded to include more comprehensive engagements that have paired Sicard, Paterson and Kinaxis’s leaders for R&D, marketing and customer experience with various Stratford coaches. One-on-one coaching combines with 360 Reviews to track performance and set goals.

“We want to be your trusted business advisor and the sum of these one on ones can become so much more,” said Mike D’Amico, Stratford’s VP & Practice Lead, HR. “We can lean in and roll up our sleeves because we have all succeeded and failed in these roles. Our philosophy is to add value, not billable hours, and we look at everything we do with a client organization as a collective to see where we can add even more value.”

For Chad Holliday, Stratford’s VP, Product Consulting, it’s all about helping leaders look at problems through a fresh lens.

“It’s lonely at the top,” he said. “Not every leader or executive is willing to recognize where and how they can be better, but once they open up, they realize how they can benefit. Even just having a sounding board to bounce ideas off can be extremely valuable.”

Tactical and strategic advice

Paterson has found great value in how Stratford helps her team develop action plans with clear and easily implemented solutions.

“I’ve seen dramatic changes in our team since Stratford became involved,” Paterson said. “It has upped the calibre of leadership. I really appreciate the mix of tactical and strategic advice and counselling. No matter who I am looking for, I can always pair my executive with an ideal Stratford coach.”

To learn how you can add instant bench strength to your business with Stratford Managers, visit