today we'd like to introduce to you our new Chief Executive Officer, Sergej Derzap.
In this interview, we've asked him the most exciting questions relating to Amasty's future, our mission, how the management style will change the order of how things work now (or it won't?), the changes of our strategy that are expecting us and our clients ahead.
So, let's start!
━ Just recently you’ve joined the Amasty team as the new Chief Executive Officer. For our partners and clients to get acquainted with you, could you please tell a bit more about yourself and your business background?
━ I started my career as a developer for a large international outsourcing company. I worked there for around 10 years making a carrier first as a developer then as a manager, eventually becoming the Resource Manager, and in parallel, the Operations Manager for one of our major customers. Looks like an interesting job with no reason to quit, right?
That's what I thought too until I got a proposal to join Juno - Uber's 'driver-friendly' competitor that is going to change the world - and build the TechSupport team from scratch. It was love at first sight and a compelling challenge to apply my knowledge on a highly competitive market, in a startup with cutting edge technologies. The four years that followed were insane. We put together a team I am proud of. I started EMBA education and was promoted to Site & Operations Manager. Looks like an interesting job with no reason to quit, right?
That's what I thought until at EMBA I got acquainted with Alex (Amasty CSO and Founder). We spent hours discussing possible improvements for Amasty, which was already a steady and successful company at that time. And when 6 months later he offered me to join the company as CEO and accept the challenge to put the theoretical improvements into practice, it was hard to resist. And here I am :)
━ What motivated you to change your habitual domain and chose to join Amasty?
━ The challenge. I have proper specialized education, I successfully managed developers and support managers, worked closely with Product Delivery and Marketing teams, was responsible for site budgeting, but felt that I could do so much more. So for me, the current position looks like an inevitable next challenge I'm eager to take.
━ What is it that attracts you in this opportunity the most?
━ I see great internal potential in Amasty and I believe all together we can build a brighter future for Amasty and the whole Magento community.
You may ask me what I mean by saying "internal potential" as it could be a good way to say something while saying nothing specific. I've spent several weeks meeting with every team and discussing their current goals and ways they are approaching them. I've been amazed by the sheer number of motivated professionals I met and what I learned from them.
Based on that, I can predict the possible effect of synergy from their work, and for me, it looks very persuasive. So let's leave this "internal potential" thing and put it even simpler - I believe in people that wake up every day and go to work to make someone's life better and I would like to be part of this story.
━ Being quite new to both Amasty and Magento, what would you say makes Amasty stand out among other vendors?
━ I would say customer care. It is not easy to develop great solutions but it’s even harder to maintain them at a high level. While there are thousands of similar companies on the market, everybody talks about Zappos, all thanks to its "Client First" policy and outstanding corporate culture.
I believe that it is important to develop high-quality products, but it's just as important to help your customers across all stages of their communication with your company - from product selection to issue management.
━ How would you define Amasty’s mission?
━ We contribute to the global development of e-commerce, automating and simplifying day-to-day activities for both online retailers and their customers.
If you ask me how I understand this, my answer is simple. Before doing anything we need to understand our clients, their goals, needs and pains. Our solutions should work seamlessly, helping our customers sell their goods. 'Seamless and easy' assessment from our clients sounds like the highest mark for me.
Everybody knows that it is hard to develop a complex and robust solution but far fewer people know that it is at least twice as hard to develop a seamless and easy solution that fits customer needs perfectly. For me, that is a challenge we've set for our company.
━ What unique value do you think you will bring to Amasty?
━ I believe in collaboration and continuous improvement. I believe that only by helping each other we can grow and become better. And here I mean not just our developers and support, marketing and design but also us as a company, and our partners and customers, of course.
I believe in Toyota's approach and that practice makes it perfect through continuous improvement and instant feedback. If you asked me what it means for me in my daily work, I would say that even on the most basic level, I am for effective and lean tools that help plan and synchronize on tactical goals. I am for collaboration and fast feedback loops, that is why every Tuesday at 10 am we have lean coffee with the CEO as an open forum where any employee can raise any question that matters for them. I am for continuous improvements that is why we are reviewing our internal processes to see how we can make them more effective and how to measure this effectiveness.
━ How would you describe your management style and objectives? How different are they from the ones Amasty had for the past 10 years?
━ It is hard to talk about something that you haven't experienced first-hand. But knowing Alex and Andrew, I would say that proper keyword is "effectiveness".
I am more in favor of such a keyword as "transparency". I believe it is very crucial for any business today to be transparent to its clients, partners, and employees alike. I will do my best to preserve and maintain all the best that Amasty has achieved during the past 10 years, and focus on further step-by-step improvements.
━ Now, let’s move on and talk about the future a bit. Are there already any immediate/most urgent actions you’re planning to take as the new CEO?
━ We've already launched a number of initiatives focusing on customer experience and aiming at making every interaction with Amasty more valuable for our clients.
As I have already mentioned, we are not expecting an instant breakthrough as we are focusing on the long run. Currently, we are finetuning the entire system to make sure it constantly improves and learns based on feedback loops.
━ Can you already tell what grand changes Amasty will see in the nearest 6 to 12 months?
━ To make our discussion about improvements more specific let's focus on something you'll experience first-hand. For sure we are talking about new products and refactoring of the existing ones. The plan is that by the end of the year every product release will be covered with MFTF to guarantee the stability of our solutions.
And this is not a single initiative in this direction - we are also strengthening our code standards and requirements for Unit testing. The first results of these initiatives we are planning to show you even during Q1 2020.
This, of course, is not the complete list of our plans, because that will take a while to talk about :) We are going to dive deeper into the details during our upcoming webinar on Feb 13. We will be glad to see all interested partners there and discuss their questions.
━ How would you describe your main objective on the position of the Chief Executive Officer?
━ I would say it's synchronization between every unit that makes the company act as a single living being.
━ How do you see Amasty’s evolution (or is re-volution?) in the course of the next 24 months?
━ I envision it as evolution. For sure it means more personalized user experience, more solutions that help our clients make their businesses more efficient.
I know that, once again, my answer sounds generic, and I would like to be more transparent here. Magento itself evolves pretty fast and for sure, we would like to follow it's pace. We are doing a lot today to make sure that Amasty adds extra value for our customers using Magento as an e-commerce solution for their business.
━ What is the greatest challenge you think you will deal with as the new CEO?
━ I believe the challenge is always the same, and couldn't phrase it better than Serenity Prayer did:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
━ And last, but most important - what will your appointment mean to Amasty partners and clients?
━ I hope it means tighter cooperation and faster feedback turnaround.
To be more specific, I wholeheartedly support two-way collaboration with our partners and clients. I truly believe that the feedback they share with us is the most precious information we as a company can hope to collect and use to build our products and services around.
In a few weeks, I am going to participate in the online webinar related to our development and support processes and practices, where our partners are welcome to ask their questions, and, most importantly, share their feedback. I would like to emphasize here that it is going to be the first webinar of such a format but not the single one for sure :)
That's it for today!
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