Samiksha Khanna recently joined Mattermost in May as their Head of Operations. Mattermost is an early stage company headquartered in Palo Alto that is growing the team around the world – with a heavy focus in KW and Toronto. They develop open source, enterprise-grade messaging solutions for leading organizations across high tech, manufacturing, financial services, public sector, aerospace and healthcare.
Can you tell us about Mattermost and what differentiates your enterprise messaging platform from the competition?
Mattermost started in mid-2015, it came from a need we had when our subscription expired from another messaging software. We had to pay to access our own data and hated being locked in, so we decided to build our own. We are named Mattermost to emphasize the importance of keeping control of an organization’s communication.
We believe that 1) internal messaging–across PCs and phones, with file sharing, archiving and search–is a vital layer of IT in a “post-email” world, 2) the platform for internal messaging needs to be open, and 3) that we wanted Mattermost to be the leading project to serve as the open layer for internal communications.
Why did you choose to join the team?
I had worked at a start-up before and really saw the benefits of starting in early and building an amazing company from scratch. I was really impressed by the customers Mattermost had already acquired through their reputation in the open source community. We have a wide array of Government and Fortune 500 companies using Mattermost.
What has your experience been like since you joined Mattermost?
I get up every morning and fasten my seatbelt getting ready for the amazing ride! There is a strong feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day since you are literally doing 50 different things and every small change makes a big impact. The team is great, we all really enjoy working together and even though we’re all distributed and work remotely I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
Operations roles can have very different meanings depending on the organization. How would you define your Head of Operations role? And why was this a critical role at this stage of the company’s growth?
One of the best descriptions I read was the Operations role is there to help make the CEO’s vision a reality. The CEO only has so many hours in a day to not only develop the vision and strategy of the company, but also to ensure it’s executed on at every level. That’s where the Head of Operations role becomes critical. I’m essentially an extension of the CEO and focused on the operational details necessary for success today and in the future.
What are some of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of what you do?
As I mentioned earlier, being in a start-up you’re working on 50 different projects and the challenge is knowing what projects take priority over one another knowing that the priority list will change every few days. It’s challenging but it’s also the part I love, everyday is new and there’s nothing boring and repetitive!
What are the key learnings you’ve had in terms of how a company can successfully scale?
Since I’m in Operations I’m a little biased here. I’m a big believer in setting a strong foundation for growth. The last thing a company needs when it starts ramping up people and customer growth is for the momentum to be interrupted because tools and processes are broken. A solid operational foundation avoids the wasted time making a strong band aid and fixes the issue so we can turn the focus back to supporting our customers and community.
What motivates you and keeps you excited about helping early stage companies grow?
It’s the impact you can make in a short period of time. We’re a small team and growing and every small improvement makes a big difference. I also love that I have the autonomy to find a problem, fix the problem and then move onto the next challenge. A year from now I’m going to look back and feel so encouraged by everything we’ve accomplished.