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Get to Know: Simen Teigre, CEO at Neat

Get to Know: Simen Teigre, CEO at Neat

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On the lighter side of things, we ask Simen Teigre, CEO at Neat, what makes him tick.

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

I’ve had too many memorable things happen in my career and life to pick just one, but I’m currently very excited and proud about Neat’s growth and development. We took Neat from an idea to publicly launching the company in just nine months and began shipping our first products just three months after that. Then, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic but that didn’t stop us. We’ve grown Neat significantly in the last two-plus years to add additional products, grow the team and expand across the world.

Simen Teigre, CEO, Neat

What first made you think of a career in technology?

My passion for technology started at a young age – I’ve never thought of another career path. I’ve always been fascinated by science and technology and was inspired by my dad and older brother who loved it. Initially, I wanted to work as an engineer in either software programming or hardcore engineering. I studied in Norway and did a combined engineering and business degree, and that’s when I discovered my passion for what technology can do for business, what it can do for society, and how you can build a business around technology.

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

I don’t like the word management. My job is to be a leader, not a manager. I think manager is an old-fashioned term. I don’t manage people, I try to lead and inspire them. I try to unleash them to be the best versions of themselves.

At our new hire trainings, I tell our employees: ‘We haven’t hired you to tell you what to do, we’ve hired you so you can help us figure out how to build a business.’

What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?

With the pandemic, I think a lot of people have realized that there are many technologies that they weren’t aware of that can help us all in a number of ways. One in particular is virtual communication technologies. Video has been around for a long time, but now that people were pushed to use it during the pandemic, they’ve discovered that video meetings are very effective for collaboration and productivity.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

I never really get stressed because I think it’s a choice I can make. There’s a politician in Norway who said something along the lines of: ‘There are very few things in life worth getting irritated about.’ I think that’s a great approach. I try to avoid getting stressed in the first place. If you worry about something you can control, that’s easy.

Take care of it and you shouldn’t have to worry anymore. If it’s outside of your control, there’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so stop worrying. Of course, that’s easier said than done sometimes.

People used to talk about work-life balance and now they talk about work-life harmony. What resonates with me is to manage my energy balance. It’s not about the hours, it’s not about the stress, it’s about having fun, it’s about having energy and getting energy. When I’m not working, I don’t work. I really disconnect when I’m off.

If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?

Nothing.  I feel very fortunate to have been given lots of opportunities. One thing I’ve learned in life is that when doors open, go through them. When you do, new opportunities come up. You need to look forward and I always try to do that.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

In general, the video industry is booming. With services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it was easy to start using video on your laptop. But I think after doing that for a while during the pandemic, people now realize that isn’t an ideal way to experience video. People get tired of sitting hunched over a laptop so they’re looking for a better video experience.

That’s driven growth in the importance of the device, and that’s Neat. Between new players like Neat and established companies, there is a lot of investment in this area. Innovation from companies like Neat also extends to growth in other areas, such as the channel, who recognize the opportunity for additional services and offerings around these video device deployments.

What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in North America?

One challenge is that CIOs need to think about the problems they’re trying to solve. What are the important ones and the not-so important ones? People are confused and not sure what they’re trying to do.

We see customers ask us for things that they asked for five years ago, 10 years ago. People are creatures of habit. They like to do things the way they’ve always done it. We inspire a lot of our customers by showing them a path that they haven’t thought about before. I think people need to ask: ‘What are we really trying to do and how can we find the right company or the right vendors or the right services to help us deliver that?’

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

My job role changes a lot because a year ago my company was a fourth of the size it is today. My role has changed in terms of how involved I can be in the details. I need to trust our Neaters and empower them to take the business to the next level. Our growth has been five times year over year so next year we’re going to be a lot bigger than we are now and my role will continue to evolve.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?

Focus on the job and responsibility you have and do your best in that role. Always be supportive of people around you. Always be helpful and have a focus on how you can make the team or the business successful. Never focus on the role that you want to go after. I’ve seen that create the wrong incentive, the wrong focus. I believe if you do a great job, show yourself as a team player, show yourself as someone who really cares about the mission of the team, you will naturally evolve into a leader or a more senior role. Opportunities will arise.

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