Charlie Vogt photography Billy Surface

Genband CEO: ‘I Can Hug You Today and Fire You Tomorrow’

Charlie Vogt's demand for accountability and strong leadership propel the Frisco-based company's success.

Charlie Vogt is president and CEO of Genband, a fast-growing, privately held, Frisco-based telecom equipment supplier that was founded in 1999.

What’s been the key to Genband’s achievements?

It takes the right leader to bring in the right leaders and then build the right plan so the team can execute—and then hold the team members accountable. I’ve spent 25 years in this market and had a lot of success before I got to Genband. That’s allowed me to attract and retain some very talented people who believe in my vision.

What do you mean, hold them accountable?

I tease everybody, “I can hug you today and fire you tomorrow,” and there’s a lot of truth in that. People know that you’ve got to deliver if you’re going to work for Charlie Vogt, or we’ll find a new role for you. Over the last seven years, I’m the only one of the management team that’s still in the same position. When we did the Nortel [Carrier VoIP and Applications Solutions acquisition in 2010], a lot of people were surprised that only one Nortel executive remained who reported to me. I felt the team I had was more suitable in many of those roles than the Nortel people.

How has the Nortel deal gone for you?

We’re ahead of schedule on a very complex integration. We just had our first full quarter [as a combined company, and it] was a record quarter. We generated $182 million, and our bookings in the period were up 40 percent year-over-year. That was a pretty loud message from our customers that they endorsed [the deal].

You’ve grown 130 percent, compounded annually, over the last six years. Has does the company keep its edge?

Regardless of how big Genband gets, we’re still very small in terms of entrepreneurship, innovation, mindset, and simplicity. Genband has always been sales and marketing driven. We spend a lot of time in front of the customers—listening to them, [considering] how we’re going to solve their problems—versus being internally focused, thinking about the technologies that are likely to be needed.

What is your No. 1 current challenge?

Aside from the economy taking another wrong turn, my single biggest concern is whether we’re seeing all the opportunities that are out there. Forty percent of our revenue is coming from outside North America. The one thing [we can’t track] is how many deals did we not participate in, because we didn’t have the right sales coverage.

 So, you need more salespeople?

Our sales organization today is about 250 people, and we’re adding at least 30 to our sales team in 2011. Our goal is to continue to grow our sales and marketing reach over the next two to three years.

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