Building the team

Joel Koppelman is in a constant race at Primavera Systems Inc.

As co-founder and CEO of the
software company, it’s a continuous sprint to keep up with
ever-changing technology, and
he also has to convince his customers that the technology he’s
creating is more beneficial to
them than what they currently

To do these things successfully, he has to depend on people to help him, especially as
his company grows.

“Finding the right people and
coordinating them and synchronizing their efforts and
making sure they’re all pulling
in the same direction as
opposed to different directions
— that’s the management challenge,” says Koppelman, whose
company posted 2007 revenue
of $176 million.

Smart Business spoke with
Koppelman about how to keep
your employees working as part
of one unified plan.

Hire the right people. You have to
do serious recruiting. Go looking for people who have experience, talent, energy, experience,
and you have to scan a lot of
people. Then you have to put
them through a really intense
interview process with the
kinds of people they’re going to
work with and for.

We switched from doing oneon-one interviews, where you
come in and speak with one
person, and two hours later,
you speak with another person.
It’s a lot of regurgitation, and
you don’t get to find out if the
answers are consistent. You
don’t get to go into enough
depth, so we’ve switched to a
mode that’s a panel interview.

Someone comes in, you’re sitting with four or five people,
and they’re all prepared. It’s
much more interesting, much
more conversational, much
more about problem-solving
skills and what makes you tick.
At the end of a two-hour session, everybody’s in a mode
where they can say, ‘This person is great, or this person
we’re going to pass on.’

You need somebody who has
a little bit of experience with it
to get it set up and in motion. In
the interviewing processes, the
people who come to the interviews have to be really prepared. They have to think about
what is this job, what are the
requirements of this job, who is
this person going to interact
with, where do they fit into the
hierarchy, and what are the
attributes and skills that are
going to make them successful
in that job. Good HR professionals know how to get that done.
Rely heavily on their expertise.