Every leader has defining moments in their career.
There are many that Craig Hayman could choose from his 30 years in software. Being part of an executive team that took a small start-up from zero to $100m in just five years; writing a then-revolutionary paper on open source software while at IBM in the mid-90s; spending a year as president of Ebay Enterprise or most recently becoming a FTSE 100 CEO when his firm AVEVA was elevated to the index in 2019.
But looking back, Hayman says he can pinpoint it to one moment. When he made the pivot from “manager to person”.
“It was 1996. I ended up running a 150 person engineering R&D team at IBM. My style was very much ‘this is my team, give it to me and I’ll deal with it’.
“I'd been there for two years and was so frustrated. There were things that I’d be seeing as obvious things we should be doing, but no one else wanted to do it. They were just too busy protecting their own ideas - at least that’s how I interpreted it.
“It was really driving me crazy. I was talking to my wife about it and she said to me: 'When you’re on a call with a customer you’re always willing to engage with them. You deal with all sorts of objections to get them on board and you don’t control them at all. Why don’t you try that inside the company?'. I thought it was outrageous, why would you spend so much time doing that? It’s too inefficient.
“Eventually I decided that I’d try it, and my God, did my career take off at that point. I ended up leading and growing projects into products, products into families, then into global initiatives.
“We came up with a structure that enabled others to see their own success in different projects - that was so rewarding.”
Image credit: Courtesy of AVEVA.