Kastle Systems International, a provider of managed security solutions and services ranked No. 5 on the SDM Top Systems Integrators Report, recently announced that industry outsider Haniel Lynn would be the company’s new CEO as Piyush Sodha steps down to serve as co-chairman and co-owner.
Lynn has more than 25 years of global operating and executive management experience growing and scaling enterprises from startup to $1 billion. He most recently served as group president of CEB, now Gartner’s Best Practices & Decision Support business, and was a member of the company’s executive team. He has previously held roles at GE Information Services, McKinsey & Company and LYTE, a technology startup.
Four days into his new role, Lynn took the time to speak with SDM about his first impressions of the industry, the new role technology is serving and the values he holds dear.
SDM: What drew you to Kastle?
Lynn: I don’t know that there are more timely and important issues for our community and for society at large than security and safety. We’re going through a lot of changes in the development of technology and in the way that markets’ needs and expectations are changing and shifting; in how customers are thinking about how they buy and in what they’re looking to buy; and I think all of that change is just a really great opportunity. Kastle is a great company. I was really drawn to the record of innovation in products the company has put out over time, and I really love the way the company talks about and focuses on the customer, and makes sure we are serving the customer well. I’ve been here for all of four days, but now that I’m here I can see how this all is embedded into the way the company operates and works and focuses its attention. I was also drawn to the culture and the emphasis around people inside the company. For me, this shows that if you get the right people, right culture and right system in place, you can just do really amazing things.
SDM: Kastle has a history of innovation. What do you see as Kastle’s role in the security market going forward?
Lynn: I was drawn to this history of innovation, and the strength in innovation is going to be a continually strong card that we will play. I believe that the market is really facing this explosion in technology — be it cloud or analytics or mobile Internet. All of these different things are coming together, and it’s creating a different level of service for our clients that maybe wasn’t there before. With technology coming together, I think managed services is really reaching its prime — it’s becoming too difficult for a property owner or manager to be able to really deploy and manage all of this on their own. I think it’s awesome to be able to join a company that was a pioneer in the access control/managed services market, and to be able to build that kind of a platform and to think about how we’re going to extend support to our clients in the broader market overall.
SDM: What strengths do you feel you bring to Kastle, and how do you think they will help to guide the company forward?
Lynn: I came from outside of the industry, from CEB, now Gartner’s Best Practices & Decision Support business. I was there for 16 years, and I was the president over the business that served all of the functional executives across the executive suite — so the CIO, head of sales, head of marketing, head of customer service, HR officers, etc. In that role I was exposed to the most progressive leaders, and the best practices that help a company function, and I hope to be able to bring that perspective to help scale and grow Kastle as we take on the next set of challenges. But within that, I spent most of my time at CEB in the sales and marketing world serving these kinds of executives, and I have a real passion for the market work that we do. I have a really good sense of how you turn market need into something that can be delivered and packaged and sold in a way that resonates with the prospective buyers.
SDM: What is the next phase of expansion and growth for Kastle? Can you give any hints of the direction you expect the company to take?
Lynn: I believe we have lots of room to expand. The market only grows more interesting as we work with mobile and other technologies to create these other experiences and [an even] stronger affinity for our services. I’m a growth and market guy, and it’s the reason I’m here, so I’d love to really understand the opportunities for us to accelerate our growth, continue to build our geographies and think about new product capabilities and different end markets we can get into. There is something really powerful in growth I think, and if you play that out it really creates other opportunities for investment and opportunities to serve our clients differently. All of this creates opportunities for growth in our staff professionally and personally. Those are some of the things we will be working through in my first days at the company. One thing that I have emphasized since I’ve been here is to make sure that we’re attracting, engaging, developing and retaining the best and the greatest talent, because without that, we won’t be able to achieve any of our goals or objectives.
SDM: Is there anything else you would like people to know as you start this new role?
Lynn: I’m thrilled to be here. This is a great time in the industry and I think Kastle is such a wonderful company, positioned really well, and I just feel privileged to have the opportunity to take this leadership role at this really interesting moment in time.