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Five-minute interview: Todd Carothers, CounterPath

This time around, our probing questions are posed to Todd Carothers, chief revenue officer at CounterPath

Tell us a bit about what you do for a living
I am the chief revenue officer at unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions provider CounterPath. I run the front end of the business covering the functions of customer success, marketing, product and sales. CounterPath is a leader in the UCC market and enables organisations to add video-conferencing, messaging and collaboration tools to their existing call server or VoIP service within one user-friendly application.

Why are you the right person for this job?
I have been in the telecommunications sector for the majority of my career, covering mobile and IP-based solutions. My background has been highly influenced growing up in the epicentre of innovation and technology in Silicon Valley, with a focus on bringing products to market. I have always worked for small to medium-sized companies, driving the top line while building a global footprint of products and solutions.

What gets you up in the morning?
My favourite time of the day is the morning. I love getting up early with a cup of coffee, reviewing my agenda for the day, and then focusing on getting results from every action along the way. While it may sound like a cliché, I really do enjoy my job and the people I work with. Our whole business is based around facilitating productive team communication and collaboration, so being able to meet face-to-face via video conference with every business unit in our organisation is important to me to keep things on track and moving forward. With our organisation dispersed across a variety of time zones, being up early gives me the opportunity to check in with our team in Europe during their afternoon, before catching up with the US East Coast at the start of their day, and finally our head office in Vancouver, all before noon.

Who helped you get to where you are today?
As strange as it sounds, it’s really who and what. Steve Jobs is the who, and the drive not to fail is the what. Growing up in the same neighbourhood as Apple, Steve Jobs had a large influence on me through the breadth of what he did in such a short amount of time. His ability to understand what customers want before they see it inspired me to start my career in product management. Additionally, some would say I am paranoid to fail. While I would not go that far, as we all have times in our lives when things don’t work out the way we want, for me I constantly try to think three steps ahead of my decisions and be flexible enough to course correct to ensure positive outcomes.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

The best business advice I received was from the co-founder of Scitor Corporation, Roger Meade. His advice was to challenge your critical business decisions against three criteria: Is it fair and reasonable? Does it make good business sense? Is it ethical? Those words gave me the autonomy to make decisions in my younger years at Scitor, which ultimately paid off for them.

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
Know the past, present and future of everything IT – the industry is ever-changing and you need to avoid mistakes as you implement what is required for today while future-proofing your decisions. All this while reducing costs and increasing productivity.

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning digital transformation?
It is, as organisations should be past “digital transformation” and be focusing on “unified digital transformation”. The key difference is mashing up UCC services into the workflow of various digital transformation programmes.

What do the next five years hold for the channel?
This is a very exciting time for the channel as UCC solutions will drive rapid growth while creating significant recurring revenue annuities through compelling cloud-based offerings. The Covid-19 pandemic has further accelerated this growth as organisations realise the work-from-home value proposition, and shifting the core selling attribute of productivity enhancement to must-have.

Tell us something most people do not know about you
Music has a strong presence in my life. From listening to playing. It drives my mood to creativeness. Of course, there is nothing better than playing with friends or family. I don’t get a chance to do that much anymore, but I still find myself playing my drum kit in the basement from time to time.

“My advice to anyone starting out in IT would be to know the past, present and future of everything IT – the industry is ever-changing and you need to avoid mistakes as you implement what is required for today while future-proofing your decisions”

Todd Carothers, CounterPath

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
My goal (and desire) is to retire doing philanthropy work. In particular, leverage technology into organisations and communities that are not using high-tech tools today. Technology makes a significant difference in accelerating success and prosperity and I believe it is not ubiquitous enough to help all global citizens today.

What is the best book you've ever read?
Non-fiction: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Fiction: The devil in the white city by Erik Larson.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?
Any in-flight movie on a tiny screen.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?
Anything punk in my playlist.

What temptation can you not resist?
A proper espresso. Caffeine is my fuel.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
My first car was a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am (think Smokey and the bandit). These days I don’t drive much, but when I get the chance, I take my wife’s Audi Q8 for a spin.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
Most politicians. Do I need to say more?

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
I was asked this same question during a job interview once – I said a dolphin. I did not get the job. I think they were looking for a panther, lion or tiger. But I would still stick with the dolphin. A fast, smart and very adaptable animal. What’s not to like?

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
I would have to say Bill Gates. He is fantastic.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?
The grizzly bear for the win! After napping all winter, it would be well-rested and ready for a fight. Plus, given a grizzly’s size, weight, claws and strength, even a silverback gorilla would not have a chance.


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