A longtime software executive, Mike Williams was named CEO of Mitratech in 2019. His appointment has enabled the company to take advantage of his leadership experience and expertise in assisting business to “leverage software to improve their own services and offerings.”
Before Mitratech, Mike Williams was the CEO of uShip, a “global end-to-end digital logistics tech company for consumers, businesses, and eCommerce merchants, with a presence in 18 countries.” Same as Mitratech, uShip also has its headquarters in Austin Texas.
Even before uShip and Mitratech, Mike Williams has also helped grow the revenue of Accruent, from $60 million to $180 million. He was involved in several acquisitions. Likewise, he has also worked as CEO of Nextance, which is an “early leader in Contract Lifecycle Management.” His passion for understanding markets and fulfilling customer needs makes him invaluable to Mitratech.
About his appointment as Mitratech CEO, Mike Williams says, “I’m thrilled to join the talented team at Mitratech as CEO and president.” Board member J-B Brian also says of Mike, “We feel incredibly fortunate to have found in Mike someone who can both keep up the strong momentum of the Mitratech business and add his unique perspective on finding solutions that put customers at the center.”
Mike Williams and Mitratech continue to “seek out and maximize opportunities to raise productivity, control expense, and mitigate risk.” Today, the company serves 1,200 organizations of various sizes around the world, representing nearly 40% of the Fortune 500, and boasting over 500,000 users in more than 160 countries.
We still work hard, but we know we’re working on what is most important. Mike Williams, CEO of Mitratech
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Mike Williams: Mitratech stands out for a few reasons. One aspect of Mitratech that makes us truly unique is our ability to support organizations across a full spectrum of legal, risk and compliance needs regardless of the company’s size. We work with companies ranging in size from the largest, most well-known global enterprises to 1-person specialized law firms — and everything in between.
A company can work with Mitratech in any number of ways. They can start by adopting technology to streamline their Legal and Spend Management Operations, add Policy Management for ensuring employee alignment and then enable advanced Risk and Compliance initiatives. Or they can do all of that, in the reverse order.
Mitratech also benefits from impressive longevity in the world of Legal, Risk and Compliance technology. We have executives at companies that have been working with Mitratech products for over 25 years This demonstrates the type of collaboration and partnership that we prioritize with our customers.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Mike Williams: I place a lot of emphasis on alignment, prioritization and teamwork. In most cases, it is going to feel like there is more work to do than hours in the day or week. Our leadership team is constantly communicating the most important priorities for a given time period — and then ensuring that teams are staying focused and disciplined in their execution of these priorities. We still work hard, but we know we’re working on what is most important. We also take the opportunity to celebrate our wins — successful projects, with customers and individual efforts.
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?
Mike Williams: A good company is one that performs well most of the time.
A great company is one that consistently meets its objectives with high predictability. A great company is one that can be relied on confidently by its customers, partners and employees. The employees at a great company are self-motivated and its customers work hard to help it be successful.
Jerome Knyszewski: What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?
Mike Williams: There is no silver bullet, but I’ve generally found that existing customers will often have the best advice for strategies and approaches that a business should take in order to find its way back to a growth trajectory. A company’s existing customers are as reliant on the company being successful as anyone else — and when asked, they often provide invaluable introductions and insights.
There is no silver bullet, but I’ve generally found that existing customers will often have the best advice for strategies and approaches that a business should take in order to find its way back to a growth trajectory.
Jerome Knyszewski: Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you have used in leading Mitratech to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Mike Williams: In the earliest days of Covid and work-from-home, we put in place a 3-part framework to drive priorities and actions:
- Maintain Business Continuity
— Action: We focused on health and remote productivity
— Outcome: our teams exceeded original expectations on many areas of product delivery and other categories
- Secure Revenue
— Action: Stay very, very close to your customers. Understand their business and how it’s being impacted.
— Outcome: we minimized any negative surprises and ended up maximizing positive surprises
- Control Expenses
— Action: Look for opportunities to reduce costs in particular, discretionary items.
— Outcome: We reduced our run rate expense by a considerable amount, enabling us to accelerate delivery of key product features
In order to ensure alignment and adoption, we hosted a Company all hands meeting once every two weeks. We also put in place a daily 15-minute call with the customer-facing teams to ensure that we were sharing real-time insights across the company.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Mike Williams: Setting priorities. My sense is that too many teams and too many companies fall into mediocrity by trying to do too much at one time. Focus on what really matters and achieve 100% completion. Then, move on to the next priority… and the next.
The most successful customer relationships are those where they view themselves as true partners with the brand or vendor. Mike Williams, Mitratech
Jerome Knyszewski: Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?
Companies must provide and support multiple avenues for how a customer can gain access to resources and support. Some customers will be fine with either researching a knowledge base for self-service answers while others will prefer entering a ticket into an online system and awaiting a response. If some rely on phone access, ensure that access is readliy available.
Companies must establish and maintain a consistent method of communication. Whether it’s as simple as a periodic update to share tips and tricks or a rigorous schedule of thought leadership programming, companies must communicate in an active, appropriate manner for their customer base.
The most successful customer relationships are those where they view themselves as true partners with the brand or vendor. This doesn’t happen overnight or by accident. Partnerships are formed when both parties understand how success is measured and work to generate mutual value.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are your thoughts about how a company should be engaged on Social Media? For example, the advisory firm EisnerAmper conducted 6 yearly surveys of United States corporate boards, and directors reported that one of their most pressing concerns was reputational risk as a result of social media. Do you share this concern? We’d love to hear your thoughts about this.
Mike Williams: I think that social media can be an effective way for customers and prospects to learn about a company and brand. We leverage social media as part of an overall communications strategy and monitor any potential concerns actively.
When comparing social media to Cybersecurity as noted in the EisnerAmper survey, we tend to spend more time and investment on ensuring that we’re minimizing Cybersecurity threats.
I think the biggest challenge for a founder is falling too quickly for an early success or win and viewing that as true validation of a broader market opportunity.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Mike Williams: First, I’m very supportive of entrepreneurs that take on the challenge of solving problems in new and unique ways. We need these entrepreneurs to continue innovating and disrupting.
I think the biggest challenge for a founder is falling too quickly for an early success or win and viewing that as true validation of a broader market opportunity. I coach entrepreneurs to not only build on their early successes, but also to apply a measure of skepticism. A founder’s product might line up perfectly well against a very unique problem that an enterprise is facing — and is not replicable at scale across that market. One way to guard against this is to either:
- a) gain introductions from your early customer to their peers in the industry; and/or
- b) quickly look for reasons why peer companies would NOT have a similar need for the solution.
Paying customers are the best validation for any product. Strike when it’s hot to gain multiple validations — and be cautious if adoption is not replicated.
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Mike Williams: Hire and promote for potential. We find that the highest performers are those that exhibit a potential for delivering at a level beyond their current role. When given an opportunity, they stretch and develop skills well beyond anything that could be measured with timing increments. Take a chance.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Mike Williams: LinkedIn
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!