Matt Belkin is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at eSUB Construction Software. Matt has a 20-year track record of building and scaling technology companies by maximizing their customer experience. In his role as Chief Operating Officer, Matt is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations to strengthen our market presence and drive strong revenue growth.
How did you become interested in working at eSUB?
I’ve been involved in data & analytics for over 25 years, focusing on industries that are ready for digital transformation. For example, at Adobe we helped creatives move from pen and paper to digital and express themselves in ways never before possible. At Omniture we helped Marketers make better decisions with real-time data. At Domo we empowered people to run their business from their phones. In each case, data and digital transformation dramatically improved work efficiency and how people do things.
Construction is one of the last areas to undergo digital transformation, and at over $1 trillion in value creation every year, it’s one of the most exciting. I find construction particularly fascinating because it employs millions of workers, many of whom are multi-generational families and the heart and soul of our country. This is an amazing opportunity to use my best practices and knowledge to help improve their businesses and their lives.
What are some of the most interesting aspects of your role?
My role as Chief Operating Officer is quite unique in that I focus on growth, operational efficiency, and scaling our team across the entire business. It touches every aspect of the organization. While I have direct ownership over some functional areas, I don’t think about it in those terms. I believe one of the greatest impacts a COO can make is empowering others to achieve their best. I often joke that the best days are when people don’t see me because my team members are the ones in the spotlight.
What was your journey to becoming Chief Operating Officer?
It’s funny, if we went back in time 25 years, and said, “You’re going be to a COO,” I would have laughed. What shaped the journey for me is my insatiable curiosity. If I’m part of an organization and you ask me to do something, I’ll never say “No”. To me, everything is a learning opportunity, no matter how trivial the task may be. Because of that mentality, I’ve been asked to do things that many other people would say, “No, that’s not my job. That’s out of my swim lane.” But for me, I’m like, “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.”
I’ve run nearly everything at some point. I led client services many times over, was the GM of several products, built large scale partner ecosystems, and built offices in Australia, Japan, and Europe. I’ve tackled emerging markets like Brazil and China, and led an M&A team through many acquisitions. I have built several sales and marketing teams. All of these things have been accomplished because I have this curiosity and sheer willingness to try anything. Because of all that, I fell into this role. When organizations need help scaling across the entire business, they need someone who has been in all the trenches in those areas.
I never expected to be a COO. I enjoy it because I have the ability to move in and out across the organization and work with leaders to help them achieve excellence. I cherish the position a lot, because it’s an opportunity to move across the organization in such a unique way.
What are your values or principles?
I know this sounds cliché, but you’re only as good as the people you work with. I believe you need to treat them as equals with a tremendous amount of respect. You also need to recognize their strengths, where you can help them grow, and where they can help me grow too.
I worked my way up from the bottom. I started as a temp worker right out of college, and couldn’t find a job. I applied to 23 different investment banks and got rejected by every single one. What I learned from that experience is that leaders often make decisions based on artificial hierarchy and biases and don’t invest the time to recognize the full potential of those around them. If you don’t take the time to understand people, their talents and passions, and treat them with deserved respect, innovation will decline, and it creates spiteful loyalty that’s not sustainable or fun.
I always try to prioritize my teammates’ needs over anything non-people related because that’s where you’re going to get the greatest return, which is most fulfilling. It doesn’t matter how good your product is or how good you are as a leader; you will always fail if you don’t take care of your people and show with your actions that you respect and appreciate them. I was on both sides; I was on the side where those investment firms would kick me down because I didn’t have an MBA. I came back and demonstrated I didn’t need that. I showed my passion, integrity, and dedication, and those that rejected me early on, they later fought against themselves to recruit me.
I never want people to feel like they’re not valued and appreciated. I want to find each person’s strengths and skills that they can bring to the table.
What are your keys to success and growth?
People come first, no matter what. Regardless of the position, I want to interview everyone on the team personally. You can learn much more about a person by talking and meeting with them than you can infer from an org chart or a resume.
In the business world we live in, everything is going to change: the customers, the competitors, the macroeconomic environment, and the product itself will change. However, the one constant that we have is this: the interpersonal relationship. We have a direct connection; when I understand what motivates you and the challenges you look for, and you understand what motivates me. When change happens, I can quickly recall the strengths and attributes of someone that has the skills corresponding to a new task or program. You never know the possibilities if you don’t know each person or have a connection.
One key to my success is always putting myself deep in the shoes of the customer. For example, before joining eSUB, I went through the sales process as a prospective customer. Sometimes this is called ‘ghost shopping’. I talked with the sales development representatives, did the same for industry peers, and reported back with my ideas on those experiences and what could be done better.
Today, as part of eSUB, I continue with this approach. I work directly with client services, and together we analyze data to create value for our customers. These customer stories and experiences are core to my DNA. If you don’t know what our customers are going through, how can you help improve their lives? It’s incredibly rewarding and one of my favorite aspects of building a company.