interview vp engineering

Anniversaries, Acquisitions, And Hiring: An Interview With Joe Kinsella

Rachel Round
Senior Manager, Marketing Communications
Published:
Aug. 20, 2019
6 minute read

From hiring a VP of Engineering to opening offices in Bangalore, Joe Kinsella talks about maintaining velocity at CloudHealth since becoming part of VMware.

In October it'll be one year since CloudHealth was acquired by VMware. As the acquisition anniversary approaches, we sat down with CloudHealth CTO and Founder Joe Kinsella to talk about what’s changed, what hasn’t, and why the timing is right for a CloudHealth head of engineering. 

When the acquisition was first announced, you said that the partnership would never have happened if you hadn’t been convinced it was the right decision for our customers. Looking back on the past 12 months, how do you believe that sentiment has played out?

When we first announced the acquisition, we had a range of feedback from customers that went from slightly positive to slightly negative. But in our 10 months as part of VMware, we’ve been able to demonstrate through execution that we have the same (if not better) focus and execution we had as an independent company. VMware has given us the opportunity to accelerate the execution of our vision in a way we didn’t before acquisition. We've added over 150 new hires to our business, actively manage over $10B of public cloud spend, and have over 5,500 customers. This rapid growth was absolutely enabled by being part of one of the top technology companies in our industry.

One of the most recent job listings on your team is for a Vice President of Engineering. Reading the description, it sounds like a big job. How is this role tied to the concepts of growth and scale, which continue to be two of CloudHealth’s biggest focus areas?  

At the time of the acquisition, we were almost exclusively a Boston-based product organization. Today our product organization includes centers in Boston, London, and Bangalore. This complexity requires a dynamic leader who can take a strong engineering organization and enable it to consistently deliver high performance while continuing to scale and grow. This leader will be able to drive operational excellence while still maintaining our innovation core. I won't pretend it's an easy job, but it's one that is critical to making CloudHealth the cloud management platform in the enterprise for the next decade and beyond.

Is it a net new role? If so, why now? What does the ideal candidate look like? 

This is a net new role for a global leader. An ideal candidate will have a strong background in SaaS, but will also have built and grown medium to large scale engineering organizations (200+ people). We need a strong organizational leader that is passionate about building, delivering, and  supporting great products for our customers, and doing so by creating an environment where great people thrive and grow.

In a recent interview with Built in Boston, CloudHealth head of product John Purcell said you single-handedly convinced him to take the job by sharing your vision and proving that you’d assembled a world-class team. We talk a lot about our swanky office, our workplace culture, and our leadership position in a redhot market, but more often than not, what really makes someone want to join is the vision. What does that vision look like?  

We have a pretty unique value proposition in the Boston market. We offer the opportunity to work at one of the top employers in the US in VMware, but to do so in a business unit that operates very much like a startup. If you were to visit our offices in downtown Boston, you would likely conclude we look and feel like a fast-growing tech company headed for an IPO. But the truth is we are already a public company that is performing well as a business and who are incredibly well-positioned to take advantage of major disruptions occurring in our industry. We want to be the management platform that powers business services for the next decade and beyond. We will do this by transforming how companies perform management, enabling them to move beyond the labor-intensive and error prone approaches of the past, to drive results through smart software automating based on business intentions.

OK, “meet the boss” time. Can you talk more about your leadership philosophy, and how it has evolved as you’ve scaled to meet the demands of a 20,000 person company? 

I have incredibly high expectations for VMware as a company, CloudHealth as a business unit, and the products we deliver to customers. That translates into high expectations of the people I work with every day. But I have found that when you hire well, provide a clear vision and direction, and empower your people, the results almost always exceed expectations. A successful leader is always adapting their role to the needs of their business, and I am certainly no exception here. A little over six years ago I was the sole person in the business doing everything from writing the product to developing investor pitch decks. My engineers are thankful now that I am no longer required to write code.

Is there anything else you want to share with our blog readers? 

While VMware is a well-known brand in the industry for bringing incredible innovations around virtualization to the market, it is not a well-known employer in Boston. I encourage our readers to take a little time to get to know us. In a world in which there is a growing backlash against Big Tech, VMware provides prospective candidates a strong and positive company culture combined with a strong product-centric innovation core.