7 Questions with Eric Klein
Name: Eric Klein
Current title: COO
Current organisation: Cloudonix inc
Eric is a Mentor for technology-oriented startups and VoIP security and fraud specialist, and a sci-fi author. He oversees the day-to-day operations at Cloudonix so the developers can focus on turning caffeine into code.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Understanding the business challenges and working on how to help the company reach their goals. Next is coordinating the schedules to get everyone into the discussion at the same time.
2. How did you become a board member of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I joined the board as one of the founders of the company. As we spun off of our predecessor we formed the board of the new company along with our first investor. This was the first effort to implement the founder's vision for the company.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
We are not a very large management team. So I balance my time between multiple different roles. I move between tasks based on time of day and scheduled appointments. When not in meetings I handle legal, accounting, and marketing related activities. But calls for business development and sales can happen from 9 am until close to 11 pm depending on the time zone of the person I am meeting. These kinds of meetings happen 6 days a week.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Always get detailed information before dealing with lawyers or accountants. I have spent the past 9 months cleaning up issues related to our ESOP and income tax because the original lawyer had an incomplete vision of the requirement and used fairly boilerplate documents based on a US only company while we have multinational requirements.
5. What are some of the keys to doing governance well in a large enterprise?
The most important part of governance is properly documented policies and transparent application of them coupled with proper discussions across the management and board team. This way there are fewer miscommunications or failures when someone is sick.
6. How do you differentiate between the role of board member and the roles of CEO or executive team member of a large enterprise?
the board is there to supervise the company at a vision level. Think of it as the board is looking at the company in the 6 - 18 month vision, while the executive team is dealing with the daily to 6 month implementation of the vision. Those of us who sit in both roles need to "shift gears" when changing roles as dual vision can lead to the problem of not seeing the forest for the trees. It takes practice to switch view points, and to be honest you cannot split 100% as you always have both view points to contend with.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a board member of a large enterprise so far?
One of the biggest problems we had was the need to fire one of the founders and a management level employee as they were creating a hostile environment. The negotiations of the founder leaving and returning his shares to the company and how he was to separate were handled by our CEO. But once the separation agreement was resolved the mood of the company improved almost instantly.