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EP 10:  Barry Mainz, Chief Operating Officer - Malwarebytes

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hey everyone, this is James Mackay. Welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends and Strategy podcast powered by the minds at SecureVision. Today we are joined by Barry Mainz. Welcome!


Barry Mainz  0:15  

Thank you. Thank you for having me.


James Mackey  0:17  

So before we jump into the topics that we want to talk about, it'd be great if you could tell us a little bit about yourself.


Barry Mainz  0:22  

Yeah, so James, we were talking earlier, I was born in San Francisco. So born and raised and a bunch of my earlier life here. I still live in the Bay area here in California, although I spent lots and lots of time traveling around the world having international teams. So I like to think of myself as a changed man, having spent so much time in multiple places, which has been great. 


I spent time earlier in my life as an athlete playing soccer, playing college soccer. I think that has had a big impact in terms of how I think about building high-performing teams, and what matters with the people you have in the teams and the talent. And can I remember having teams where we had some of the best players, but as a team, we didn't play very well. And we lost games. So" hey, what do you do with talent? And you know, how do you make sure that one plus one equals something greater than two? 


Most of my life's been in tech, although I did start in high-tech advertising. But most of my career has been in tech and sales, sales management, executive management, C level management. So I've got to see a lot of different perspectives and how things work. And, pursuant to the topics at hand here, I think everything's the team. It's about people. And primarily, if you're thinking about people building software, or SaaS applications, you don't have storefronts, you don't have machines that are building automating things, you're really relying so much on the talent. 


So for me, I think this topic we are talking about " hey, what are some of the tips and tricks, about how we manage our talent and get more” is key. So I'm excited to talk about that today with you.


James Mackey  2:05  

Yeah. So let's start to jump into it. I think the first topic that I know people are really thinking through right now is what is going to be the future of work. And what are some of the biggest changes that we're seeing across the workforce, in terms of what employers are looking for? How to attract and retain talent, how to operate in a remote-first world, and how companies can kind of strike the balance between remote and on-site in the office. 


So I think just to get started, I would love to hear from your perspective, what are the primary shifts that you've seen in the workplace over the past couple of years? And what challenges do you see, and what opportunities do you see at a high level?


Barry Mainz  2:47  

Yeah, such a great question. I think all of us as execs or even non-execs think about this a lot. Certainly, COVID or the pandemic taught us that you don't have to be at work every single day for every single minute. So being able to do remote sessions, whether you use some sort of zoom or kind of teams or what have you, is an effective way of getting stuff done. 


I think the other thing that we've learned is, that there is a gap when all you do is meet remotely or digitally in that Hey, how do you do game boarding or strategy off sites? Because a lot of that works much better face to face. And I think oftentimes, constructive confrontation is better-done face to face than on Zoom, especially if you don't have a relationship. For some reason, and there are a lot of psychological answers to this is that, hey, humans do a lot better, especially in building relationships face to face. And once you have those relationships, it's easier. 


We talked a little bit earlier before the podcast started about customers. And so I think gone are the days that you fly to New York for one customer visit from the east or west coast. But I do feel like gaining new customers or impactful relationships, face-to-face work. And there are still cultural differences that we have to be mindful of, say, parts of Japan or parts of Europe where, it's a critical relationship, face-to-face matters. And so we see that you know, you have to allow for that as we're starting to see things open up spending time. 


Also, you don't have to be all in the same location, like people are out of California, there have been many people who have moved to places. Maybe it's a little bit more affordable, either within the state or outside of the state to start their family, you know, get by a house and do that. And so, hey, they can actually work remotely and maybe come in once a week and that works out ok. So I think that's a completely different norm than we used to because I remember our teams, we'd say, hey, well, you got to be interviewed. I don't care where you live, but as long as you come in when you're supposed to. And we have a lot more flexibility with that. 


And then I'd say last but not least, I'm not sure we've completely sorted out what a hybrid workplace looks like yet. And I still think we're learning. I do feel like, again, over the next several quarters, we'll have a good bead on it, but it certainly won't be like we had before. So I'm excited to kind of see how we'll leverage kind of the new norm for that.


James Mackey  5:20  

I was speaking with somebody, one of my clients' sets, and people leadership actually based out of Napa. And one of the things that we were discussing was, as they're starting to return to this hybrid schedule, one thing that's a real challenge is that throughout the pandemic, they ended up hiring people that are not commutable to the office at all. 


So now she's trying to figure out how do we not create a weird dynamic where some people are returning to the office part-time, but others aren't? And how do you create an inclusive environment where everybody's involved? When not everybody's going to be able to return to that hybrid schedule? 


I'm wondering, because obviously, your team is distributed globally, and you have people in several locations. How do you go about tackling that potential challenge, right? If you're running an office? Is that something that your team is working on?


Barry Mainz  6:16  

That's a great question. And a lot of that has to do with scale. Like, we have an international team, we've always, always had that even prior to the pandemic. So we've had to have some sort of a model like this, whether one of the execs or somebody traveled to the other location, hey, they're popping up on Zoom. So you're having say, you're having your staff, weekly staff, hey, two people are not even into the same country or the same location. 


So I think for, smaller companies or companies that are located in one area, and then somebody moves out, you know, maybe a little bit of just, I mean, I, you know, I would be happy to talk to anybody about, hey, how it transitioned because I've worked at small companies where everyone's in one location, and now you're just forced to. So I think I would say, It's okay, if they're not in the office all the time, and making sure you accommodate at least some flexibility where maybe they fly in, you know, for if they have to fly or drive every other week for a day or two, or you show up at a staff some time to kind of get that, relationships built with the folks within the office or the team.


James Mackey  7:19  

Sure, sure. And basically what your team has decided is that you're going to keep everything fully remote for at least the foreseeable future. Or, I know, you said, you're still working through the hybrid.


Barry Mainz  7:33  

Yeah, we have the flexibility and so it depends on which country. We have an office in Estonia, we have nearly 200 people there, they've been back in the office for the longest amount of time, partly because most people are from somewhere else, and a little bit smaller homes or apartments. And so having two or three people in a small, you know, apartment, it's hard to have everyone talking at the same time. So they really wanted to go back to work. So that's kind of how they sort of sorted that out. And there's some hybrid there. But they've sorted a lot of that out.


Here in the Bay Area, we have an office in Santa Clara. And there's a lot of people who said, hey, well, you know, let's go back for meetings, we'll go back for maybe strategic customer meetings, we'll go back to the office because we have a nice conference room and stuff. But for the most part, we'll stay remote unless we have to. And so that's starting to work out and say for the last couple of months, we've been going back in the office and having our maybe a staff meeting or a strategy meeting, or like I said before a customer meeting. 


The one thing that has changed, though, is customer meetings are starting as I mentioned earlier, coming back to the office. So some customers want to come and say, Hey, I'm going to be coming to the Bay Area, can I stop by and meet with you, folks? So, we're seeing that coming back on were, boy for a couple of years, it was not very common. So people are flying back into the US, and they're having to invite, or meet maybe some other key suppliers or partners, and they want to meet, and so they come to the office and that's been really great. 


So I do think there'll be a hybrid, we're already doing it right now. We have an agile workspace. So theoretically if we went back to full capacity, people would not be six feet apart. So, any social distancing for everybody being back, it's just not going to happen. So we would have to wait till the city says, hey, there are no restrictions. And I think we're starting to see that. So I think we'll feel more comfortable coming back to the office as that happens.


James Mackey  9:29  

I'm sure. And I'm curious to get your thoughts on what you're seeing with retention trends over the past couple of years. I mean, everybody's talking about this great resignation. And before we hit record, we were kind of thinking through like, well, is that really applicable in tech? I feel like to some extent, people are always the turnover has always been high in tech. Right. So it's not like I think a lot of us in tech are like, well, this is you know, kind of par for the course. Right? Yeah. Your two years. It's like wow. 


So I'm kind of curious to get your thoughts on what trends you're seeing there and then also, can you talk about what your team is doing, if retention is a priority, what is your team doing to keep employees engaged and keep employees excited about the work ahead of them?


Barry Mainz  10:15  

Yeah. So first, we try to compete with flexibility. So we're starting to see some larger companies requiring people to come back to the office. We were not, we're using that as leverage to be creative. And so we can go to, outside of California, or outside of the areas where we would potentially have an office, you have an office in Tampa, Florida too, out of the area to be able to recruit, and that's been really successful. 


We tend to have much, much better retention rates, James, to your question, because there might be a lifestyle, and you know, the cost of living isn't such that they have to keep thinking about their career in terms of how they progress financially. So they can afford things as they move along in their life and get married and have kids and whatever. And so think about them. And it's less competitive like it's pretty competitive in certain areas. And I can just say, the Silicon Valley from a competitive on comp, and talent. So that actually helps us. Part of our strategy is, hey, can we go to areas where you get terrific talent? And maybe it's not so competitive, so the retention is better? Right? We're not having that. 


I think those are some of the strategies that we're employing. And the other thing that we think about is what our employees want. We've been really doing a lot of kind of pulse surveys to kind of say, Hey, what are you guys thinking about? What do you want in terms of flexibility? And we're trying to mirror our strategy and our talent strategy and our kind of back-to-work strategy with what our employees want. So that's been helpful. 


We've done things like, hey, come back to work and do strategy meetings, we've also done wellness days, which has been one where people feel like, you know, there's no balance between work and lifestyle because you're in your home, but let's give someone a wellness day, every, month, we give them, one day off when Friday off so that they can actually go and do something for themselves. And we find that that's been really, really well accepted with people.


James Mackey  12:12  

We actually do something very similar. We call them recharged days, We do one about once a month. It's actually done quite a good job. What I love about wellness days or recharge days, it's in my opinion, like a baked-in coolant to ensure people don't burn out to have like, you know, a one-month PTO policy or an unlimited policy, that we're in a culture where people actually feel comfortable taking a fair amount of time off. What ends up happening, though, is that you take the time off, you know, maybe two, three weeks, and then you don't take anything off for six months and six months with all the craziness in the world today is more than enough time to burn out, particularly in tech. 


So what we've done is we actually implemented all federal holidays off, and then one recharged day off, essentially a month. And so what we do is like Fourth of July, for instance, is on a Monday, then we'll close down the previous Friday. So it's essentially like one four-day weekend. And to be honest I wasn't sure how it was gonna work because as you know, that's a fair amount of time off because that's not even PTO we're talking about is like two days off a month, not even. We also have a four-week PTO policy. But I was actually very pleasantly surprised. Productivities have never been stronger. It really does help people just get recharged. Take some time off and come back with even more energy ready to tackle the week. 


Barry Mainz  13:42  

Your recharging days are Fridays typically?


James Mackey  13:46  

Yeah, Fridays or Mondays. So if a day of the holiday is on a Friday then Monday will be off generally. We just kind of tack it onto the weekends. But it's really proven itself to us. And quite honestly, I even tried to take advantage of it too. Like, I'll turn off my computer and stuff as well. And it's been a pretty good experience as well. So for me, too. So I think everybody has been pleasantly surprised by how well it works.


Barry Mainz  14:15  

Excellent. Okay. Yeah. No, us as well. employees tend to like it a lot.


James Mackey  14:20  

Yeah, for sure. So what are some of the other trends that you're seeing in terms of employee feedback? So it's about more flexibility, and time off. People the past couple of years have been struggling with burnout, I think hopefully, we are coming to the end of that. But is there any other type of feedback or preferences, or they're looking for certain types of benefits? Or they're looking for certain types of career tracks? Like what other shifts are you seeing right now? 


Barry Mainz  14:46  

Let's just start with the benefits. I mean, most employees that I interview or we're hearing from our employees that are interviewing are, they always ask about flexibility. Hey, can I work remotely? Hey, do I have a possibility if I move, if I'm here whatever to be, some sort of a hybrid model? And is that okay? 


So that is one thing that people check off. And hey, by the way, I was even asked, Is that going to change? Well, I can't really answer that. But you know, for the foreseeable future now. So that's one that, you know, probably never really got asked as much as, Hey, do I have a hybrid work? You know, I mean, maybe you used to get asked before, say, Hey, is it okay that I might work a few hours at home while I pick up my kids? Or do I do something? I mean, it's okay. Well, you can work one morning from home and then commute in at lunchtime or whatever. Right. 


I think the other thing people are asking for, that we didn't maybe have before is  "can I go work in a different country? One of your locations? What are the what's the flexibility there?  And we've had that, we have an office in Cork, sales office," hey, can I come to the US? And, the same holds true for some of the folks in the USA, you know, "what sort of flexibility do I have? And I don't know if that is just pent-up demand, because people haven't traveled for a while. So like, you know, Hey, I want to go do something different and explore. But that's something that you know, hadn't had as much. And I've got that a lot of people come to me, Hey, what do you think about this? Can I do that? So that was one, you know, that is easier in some areas than others, as you probably know, so that one has not come up as much before, but now a lot. 


Then I'd say the other thing, just people looking for ways to make an impact. Maybe there's more social responsibility on things. I think people have had time to think at home, watch a lot of TV or Netflix, or God knows what, and say, Hey, maybe I want to have a higher level of social conscience. So they asked a little bit about, Hey, how's the company getting back? Or what can I do when I'm at the company to help the local community or whatever? And we do a lot of that, in the local geographies too, getting back. So we have a lot of that maybe, you know, even two years ago, I didn't get as much. So that social consciousness, I think, has popped up a bit more. 


James Mackey  17:00  

Yeah, we are starting to see more and more people just, "hey, if I'm remote, can I travel? So we actually have a fair amount of team members. We had one of our team members that decided that she was going to go down to Panama and work from Panama for a month. Yeah, great. That's perfect. I mean, you know, as long as you have a strong internet connection, like go for it!


Barry Mainz  17:19  

Yeah. You don't care and if you don't neglect your zoom background, you wouldn't know. I mean, you could have the same background as you have here. Take a picture of it and James, I think you're in DC or you're in Panama, you couldn't tell.


James Mackey  17:31  

No, yeah, exactly. So I definitely think flexibility is key right now.  Right now for talent acquisition in terms of competing, given the talent gap and how hard it is to recruit specifically in tech.  What are some of the tactics that talent acquisition is implementing right now? I mean, is it really just about communicating flexibility to candidates on the job talk, communicating impact, and social impact?  Is there anything else that you're seeing on the talent acquisition side, to help attract great people to your organization?


Barry Mainz  18:12  

So we're a little fortunate in that, you know, the category of tech that we sit in is pretty high insecurity. So I think, you know, maybe if you never turn your television on, or go on your laptop and look at anything, I mean, it's all over the news. So people know that. So it's a little bit easier to talk about the value prop and why it's important and this kind of thing. So I think we have a benefit there because people get it. So you know, hey, I want to be there because that's where the action is. And so we have a nice little bogey benefit, which I like. So we play to that strength a lot. And so there's that piece.


I think a lot of people have heard about us. We have two parts of our business, we have a consumer business, and we sell, you know, to consumers, a downloadable product, and then we have a corporate business. And we've got 50 million users on the consumer side. So there are a lot of people who knew us or knew about us, or their family and friends know about us. 


So the other thing that I like is someone said, hey, you know, I was talking to my aunt, and she goes, Oh, I know, Malwarebytes I have it on my computer, and just makes people feel good about what they're doing. And that's always a challenge when you have either the small startup No, we're not that small. So, you know, 900 employees and quarter million dollars quarter, 20$, 50 million in revenue. So, you know, a quarter billion. But I do feel like that place is different. Because you want to work someplace where people know, oh, cool, I know you've got up so we play to that strength. And then maybe the last but not least we talked about before we talk a lot about the flexibility and some of the nice benefits we have in and around that the health and wellness days and you know, hybrid work from home and that kind of thing. 


James Mackey  19:55  

I mean, I think, obviously career track, Learning and Development is still important. And I think people are still focused on that. They're just also focused on the flexibility piece. But have you seen an evolution over the past couple of years, tied to career tracking, professional development, learning, and development? Have you seen any shifts occur in that part of the business?


Barry Mainz  20:21  

That's an interesting question. Yes.  Because if you would think about before the kind of the pandemic, L&D, sort of these remote sessions, where you are on a computer, " I gotta sit on my computer for an hour James are you kidding me? Now, we say we have these modules. Okay, I'll look at them on my computer. Right? It's been like a warning because people are used to it, their home, like a kind of being staring at you know, I can only work out so much I can only ride the peloton so much. I can only look at my own TV so much. Walk outside whatever. point it's not that I can, I can learn I can, you know, kind of enhance my career by going online. And do any of these, you know, L&D stuff. 


So that's changed. Because it was a little bit harder to get people to do it online, can I go to a classroom, please? Now that's changed. And that's been a good thing because we can leverage, you know, online, which is more efficient, cost-effective for us. Um, at the same time, too, I think it's a big benefit for the employee. So that's a big, big, big change than before.


James Mackey  21:23  

Yeah, sure. I mean, even more specifically than just ongoing L&D, onboarding, right? And I think a lot of companies, really scale companies, growth stage organizations. And a similar phase of growth to where your team is right now had to do essentially a complete overhaul. How was that transition going from probably, primarily in-office onboarding, to remote? What had to occur to make that transition successful?


Barry Mainz  21:51  

There's technology, there was, hey, how do you make things a little more interesting? Because I think that we all thought, I'd rather go in the corner and poke sharp needles in my eyes, than sit for nine hours on Zoom. Right. And I think, if you're talking about onboarding, you're sitting eight, nine hours on Zoom. Right. 


And so probably making things a little bit more,  trying to make it more interesting. I think it was forcing people they couldn't rely on. I mean, some people are funnier or more entertaining in person, whether versus zoom, I mean, it's odd.  So how do you leverage some of the things and skill sets that, you know, like, do that? Partly is small snippets, you know, you can't sit there and drone on for 45 minutes, maybe 10 or 12-minute chunks, and then make a transition?                   

So I think we had to get better at presenting and get better at, hey, how do you think about how the mind works? If you have small chunks of time, you stay focused, just in terms of how people think and how they process information. Let's leverage that or learn about that. And in addition to that, how has it affected you remotely and so I think we've had to think a lot more, you know, kind of creatively about how we provide and transfer information and learning.


James Mackey  23:00  

Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about onboarding lately, and I think a lot of leaders are obsessing about retention right now, right? And how can we get people to stay with this longer? And obviously, that's a very important question. But one thing that I'm starting to give more thought to is like, well, we can't always control these macro shifts in the market, where people are going to be shifting positions, more often now. And it's probably a trend that's going to continue. 


And so I'm starting to think about, you know, as leaders of companies, we should start thinking about how can we increase the quality and the speed of onboarding, so that we can ramp employees faster so that they can begin adding value quicker in an environment where they're probably not going to stay with us as long.

So that's been I think, alongside trying to tackle retention, I'm putting, a bigger focus right now on how can we just optimize onboarding and make that a strength where it stands out amongst other companies and when we can get it to a point where we can honestly say it's like a nine, nine and a half out of 10.


Then maybe even using that as an almost like a tonne acquisition tool to put on our careers page and discuss with candidates about, hey, look, this is our onboarding program. This is our training program. And making that kind of an asset that not only helps accelerate value but helps us attract talent. Because I think, in a remote world,  so many candidates right now or employees are experiencing poor onboarding experiences, right? I'd say the majority of companies are probably struggling with it right now. 

So I think companies that can invest in onboarding and L&D and create great experiences surrounding that do are going to have a competitive advantage in this market because why They're gonna get more value quickly from their employees. And then two, that isn't in and of itself an asset to attract and retain talent.


Barry Mainz  25:08  

I completely agree with you on that one. I think the one area where, you know, we're still struggling a bit with the microtransactions that happen during the day, and that you have to have face-to-face. I mean, you can use Slack but like, you know, going up to someone and saying, hey, you know, what, thinking about how do I do that again on here? Or, Hey, I gotta go do a look at this data. How do I log into this tool? And what do I do? Okay, see how to do it. Right? You never say, hey, you know, can you help me do this? And, you know, I just think it's a little bit more difficult. We don't have hallway conversations. 


And I think the other piece is the game boarding. Like, I'm going to go into, hey, you know, put something on the whiteboard and just sort of say, let's take a step back and look at stuff. Some of that doesn't have, there are tools, it just hasn't been as effective. Right.                       And some of the engineers that we talked to, they're like, God, I miss my whiteboard sessions. I need those back. So that's a little bit of an area we're working on, there are some tools you can use to go do that. But I still feel like we could, you know, have those meetings. And if you go take a look at what some people are doing on the strategy offsites or just meetings that they're game boarding on the whiteboard, hey, here's the do here. Why did we do this? How do we do this session, whatever? So I do feel like, you know, again, having the flexibility to have the meeting, get a session or a couple of hours at work to get that stuff done, people like that.


James Mackey  26:24  

Sure. I think studies are starting to come out linking in person as being more favorable for anything that requires creativity, right? If you're trying to bring it to create solutions to complex problems, getting a group of people in a room together seems to be ideal. And I think there's more and more, apparently, data coming out supporting that right now. We're gonna see a lot more of that over the next few years.


Barry Mainz  26:53  

I agree with you. I believe it.


James Mackey  26:56  

Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, this has been a tonne of fun. And we are coming up on time here. Before we jump off today if people want to follow you or view your content, or what you're doing, how can they find you online?


Barry Mainz  27:11  

LinkedIn is probably the best way. I post things up there all the time. And so LinkedIn is a good one. And if anyone has a question about anything, they can certainly just message me. I'm happy to answer them back. I do that all the time.


James Mackey  27:23  

Good stuff. Well, thanks again for coming on today. This has been a tonne of fun, and to everybody listening, thanks for tuning in, and we'll talk to you next time.

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