Driven by a belief that people must be happy in their work, Craig Brown is leading his team to be innovative in the tech industry.
What’s your story?
I started working in tech in the 90s, working with some of the largest corporations in Australia and developed a keen understanding of what motivates people across a range of contexts. In 2010 I grew an SaaS business to 240 people globally which was acquired by Oracle for AUD$1.6B. Mission, autonomy and purpose was at the key of this success and became a catalyst to start Everest Engineering – a software agency with a core mission to create a great place to work.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love working in the technology industry because it is constantly evolving and new opportunities are constantly emerging. Innovation is the essence of technology.
Given the relationship between innovation and the tech industry, it’s not surprising the tech industry likes innovating on itself as well. Methods, processes and practices are constantly being challenged, reworked and remixed to help technology teams do things better, more efficiently and with more impact.
Remote working tools, techniques and methods are naturally a part of this, and responding and innovating to the chances is critical.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary? When Ranganathan, the Co-Founder of Everest and I started the business, we wanted to work in a business that valued respect for people. We talked at great length about what we think great is, and had four places where we wanted to make an impact: we wanted to create a great place to work. We wanted to be a great partner to work with for our customers. We wanted to be a sustainable company, and we wanted to share back to the community. Our business model has become a positive ecosystem.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
Learning is the core skill we have to refine. What we seek to learn varies between people.
We all have different goals and starting points, so respect is important. I go beyond respect and am enthusiastic for the people I work with. I want to see everyone be successful and achieve their personal goals.
It’s important to want to do a great job. The pursuit of excellence gives you skills to be able to make a bigger impact on the world.
It’s important to support others to make them successful. That is the fastest way to build high-performing teams.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Paying attention to what motivates people is so important. People want to grow and learn in their job and apply that knowledge in the way it makes sense to them, and see that their work has an impact on the world.
This is critical in an industry where it’s important to hire talented, innovative, forward-thinking people. Great management is the key to success in truly high-performing organisations. Great managers shape environments that enable their teams to do their best work.
Relationships are also the platform for business success. Not transactions.
Who inspires you?
The people I work with, including our clients. When we worked with our client Dinode, two Indian team members flew to Melbourne and the Australia Dinode team flew down from NSW. Together, they rented a large apartment and spent two weeks living and working together. Then the Australian team flew to India, rented a houseboat in Kerala to work together.
We believe truly impactful work is done when people really care about one another, and want to work together, and are inspired by working together, working towards a mission and shared story of success.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t have too many regrets about my career. I really like the strategic decisions I have made.
When I have been ready for a job change, I have looked for great people to work with and learn from. I like to fall in love with the work; there is something about finding the value in the work we do, no matter what it is that is motivating. When I find my motivation flagging, I go back to the purpose and the people to re-energise myself.
How do you unwind?
In normal times I enjoy time with family and friends. Having a meal together, or doing something fun. During pandemic lockdown options have been more limited. Melbourne has had over 200 days of lockdown by mid August and we still have a few months to go. So streaming tv shows, reading books and walking around my bedroom. Fortunately I have this business to spend my time on as well.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I think reminding ourselves that sustainability and resilience are really important virtues. We started this business being aware of that, but the pandemic made us appreciate it.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Dan Pink’s book Drive. It talks about mastery, autonomy and purpose. People want to grow and learn in their job, and leaders must encourage them.
Remote working has disrupted workflows around the world. People have realised they don’t want to work in boxed cubicles anymore, and travel long commutes to work.
And they no longer need to, providing they are excited about their work and feel supported by the structures that have been put in place to ensure they can reach KPIs, develop great products, and work within a positive environment enabling them to feel passionate about their roles.
Shameless plug for your business:
We’re less than three years old and are already one of the most fast-growing, promising technology businesses operating in Australia and India. We have great employees, with customers who have great experiences. We’re going to grow to be one of the world’s most promising technology companies very soon. Come work with us as either a team member or a client.
How can people connect with you?
Social Media Links?
This interview is part of the CallumConnects series.