Back to Blog

GeekWire: Changepoint’s Matt Scheuing on the mythology of the CEO

    

Working Geek is a regular feature on GeekWire that profiles technology and business leaders, offering tips, tricks and insights into how busy professionals get work done. Lisa Stiffler caught up with our CEO, Matt Scheuing, for this Working Geek feature.

GeekWire-logo-transparent

What do companies working on project and business management, navigation technology, tax preparation, documentation automation software, on-demand transportation, telecom services, and speech recognition have in common?

Nothing, really. Except that Matt Scheuing has held leadership roles at all of them over the course of his career, most recently becoming CEO of Seattle-based Changepoint in 2016.

And how does one repeatedly jump sectors, hopping straight into CEO and president positions? Scheuing half-jokingly credits “the motivational power of sheer, abject terror.”

Kidding aside, “I love learning about businesses and going into a new vertical is such a great mental challenge,” he said. “It’s a crash course that you put yourself on. You’re learning things fresh and you’re motivated to learn as quickly as possible, and you approach it from a different perspective.”

In some ways, Scheuing spent his childhood training for just such a career path. Scheuing is a German-native, and his dad worked for a multi-national company. The family relocated about every four or five years, living in countries including Mexico, Canada, Italy, Belgium, and the U.S. He recalled moving to Mexico City in elementary school and feeling that he had about six months to adapt and become fluent in Spanish, or risk schoolyard harassment.

When he landed at Changepoint four years ago, it was trying to meld into a unified business after acquisitions had united three different companies.

“It’s really hard to pull those cultures and teams and visions and outlooks together,” he said. Some integration had taken place, but more work was needed. He hit pause and rewind in their trajectory in order to reset Changepoint’s vision as an enabling partner to other businesses. It’s difficult to slow down that momentum, but it was an important step to take, he said.

“About a year ago we largely left behind the ‘perspiration’ work of bringing things together and moved on to ‘inspiration,'” Scheuing said. “We’re doubling down on innovation and I’m excited about what’s ahead.”

Last week the company of about 200 employees internationally announced the release of a suite of updated software for project management and analytics.

With his chain of leadership roles, Scheuing has firsthand insights into the job of CEO.

“A lot of the mythology of the CEO is overblown — that you are all-controlling and all-knowing and quick and decisive,” he said. “It makes it look almost cartoonish. The modern CEO role is just as much a servant and enabler as a leader.”

It’s not control and command, said Scheuing. “You are building culture and teams, and building an environment where people can be successful.”

Continue reading for his answers to GeekWire's questionnaire.