Ben Kessler, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of 66degrees, shares his perspective on the state of our business, fostering business and personal, and incorporating diversity and inclusion while helping our teams thrive at 66degrees.
As an executive for one of North America’s largest pure-play Google Cloud services firms, what role do you have in the organization?
As COO & CFO, I support the organization by overseeing our Google Solutions, Google Workspace, Delivery Management, Talent Development, Finance, and Accounting teams. I am very grateful for the leaders overseeing each of these functions, who I have the opportunity to work with each day to drive this organization forward.
From a leadership perspective, how do we foster a culture where our employees thrive, and our clients succeed?
Last August, the Operations team worked through an exercise exploring our team’s “Why.” I’d like to share the outcome of this exercise, which I believe explains how we shape 66degrees’ culture to allow employees, clients, and partners to thrive.
Our Why – Foster an impactful culture that drives growth
How We Will Get There – Serve others, Transform ourselves, and Enjoy the Ride!
Financial security is critical in the technology industry, as it helps companies to mitigate risks and ensure long-term sustainability; how is 66degrees remaining financially secure?
We have been able to remain financially secure over the history of 66degrees because of many reasons, three of which I will share here: our partnership with Google Cloud, our best-in-class Sales, Delivery, and Ops teams, and our focus on key performance indicators to accelerate data-driven decisions about our future.
Our partnership with Google Cloud has helped us grow at 66degrees and will allow us to continue to grow in the future. In Q1 2023, Google Cloud grew 28%, which is a positive sign about the opportunity we have ahead of us in 2023.
To capture the opportunity in the market, we have assembled a highly experienced Go to Market team, a seasoned group of engineers and skilled operators who have grown Professional Services businesses in the past. The team we have assembled is a great indicator of our current and future health.
Lastly, we spend a significant amount of time reviewing key performance indicators across all aspects of our business that indicate the health of 66degrees. This commitment to evaluating business health objectively and making data-driven decisions allows us to adapt and build a healthy organization.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career with 66degrees? How would you advise them to achieve success?
Learn as much as you can about your role, observe how others in similar roles are successful, and try to align what you are doing with your passion. Being successful in a growing business takes hard work, and if your passion is fueling that hard work, you will enjoy what you are doing and realize significant professional growth.
How is the leadership of 66degrees supporting our initiative to remain an equitable organization?
The Executive Leadership team and our Talent Development leadership are committed to making 66degrees a diverse and equitable organization. We are committed to doing this through sharing information transparently, as we shared in Matt’s and Molly’s April DEI presentation, transparency on incentives and how people are paid, as we shared in the January All Hands meeting, and an openness to feedback, as we have shown through Dory submissions and responses. Sharing information transparently and being open to feedback allows us to share our path forward and pivot when hearing your feedback.
What are we looking for in candidates that will enrich our organizational culture when recruiting talent?
The Talent Development team is committed to finding diverse talent that enables our organization to grow and drive client success. In order to do this, we are looking for individuals from all backgrounds who understand what it takes to succeed in their role and possess the technical aptitude and intellectual horsepower to execute their job successfully.
How do 66degrees drive you as a professional, and how has it become your passion?
66degrees drives me as a professional because it allows me to serve others, namely our employees and clients, and it presents a new challenge nearly every day. My passion is to help people grow in their positions, and in their careers, by walking alongside them as we encounter new, challenging opportunities presented by the market and business. It brings me great joy to see how many of our leaders have grown at 66degrees by encountering and successfully overcoming challenges. Few other places present such an opportunity.
Aside from your passions at 66degrees, who do you enjoy spending time with outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Kirsten, and my four children. I also enjoy a hot cup of coffee, nonfiction books, and watching the Milwaukee Bucks or Chicago Cubs.
Being a leader requires composure, especially when facing challenging situations; what helps keep you poised?
I have found that I stay grounded through daily personal reflection, daily time with my wife and four children, and in-person interactions with the leaders of the functions I oversee. These activities help me show up to work each day excited to serve our employees and clients.