Meet the ExtraHopper: Chris Lehman

A Q&A with our new Senior VP of Worldwide Sales.

Chris Lehman, SVP of Worldwide Sales Chris Lehman, SVP of Worldwide Sales, ExtraHop Networks

Earlier this month, ExtraHop announced the appointment of industry veteran Chris Lehman as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales. Lehman is joining the company as it navigates a period of fast growth and entry into new markets including security, making the former FireEye sales leader a powerful addition to our global team. We sat down with Lehman to get a better understanding of his background, his unique talents, and his passion for ExtraHop.

Tell us how you got your start in technology industry?

I've been in technology for about 20 years. This is probably going to be more information than you need. My first job in tech sales was with a company called SyBase. I then got recruited over to a company called Documentum, which was a document management company that evolved into a platform sale. I see a lot of similarities between the way we sold at Documentum and the way we can sell at ExtraHop. The big differentiator for Documentum was benefit and value of a platform where you could do a lot of different things. At the same time, we would typically get a foothold on an account through a specific solution built on top of the platform. I learned a lot from that experience that I'm hoping to be able to apply here at ExtraHop.

After about 5 years at Documentum, they were acquired by EMC. I spent the next 8 or so years working there in the content management division, but I knew I wanted to move on to learn a SaaS business. I had the opportunity to work for Salesforce.com. I ran one of their enterprise businesses in the northeast United States. After that, I had a short-stop at a company called Monetate working as their head of global sales. I knew fairly quickly that it was not a good fit for me, candidly. I then got recruited to work for FireEye, which is where I really got to know the security space. I spent the last year-and-a-half running their North American sales and channel organization.

Ultimately, between selling the platform at Documentum and my work in the security space a FireEye, I'm really looking forward to bringing some of that experience to ExtraHop to help the company grow and evolve how we sell and the markets we sell in.

What attracted you to ExtraHop?

Three things...the technology, the market size and the people. I knew that my career aspiration was to run global sales, but I wasn't actively looking to leave FireEye. One day I got a call from a recruiter at ExtraHop and they convinced me to hear them out. Soon after, I was at the RSA Conference in the Bay Area and the recruiter suggested that I meet with (ExtraHop CEO) Arif Kareem while I was there. We had a very good conversation and the first thing that appealed to me about ExtraHop was the technology. It may sound cliche but while everyone says they have good tech, very few are truly differentiated. The more I learned about ExtraHop, the more I came to understand this was hugely differentiated and innovative technology. And it's been validated by third parties. The Gartner MQ ranking for "completeness of vision" in NPM is huge.

I look at the companies doing really well today and they usually fall into one of two categories. Either they are creating a brand new category that nobody thought of before, or they're companies that have come up with new and better ways to solve a problem in an existing marketplace. With ExtraHop, I saw a good mix of both. I saw a company with an opportunity to disrupt an existing market with a next-gen story around NPM. And I saw a company innovating and helping define new categories in ITOA and Security. And, like I said, the tech was validated. Whether it was the Gartner MQ or the InterOp and Citrix awards, those all go a long way.

In addition, ExtraHop is a company in a very big market. It's one thing to have great technology, but to really be successful you have to have great technology in a market where there's a lot of money being spent, otherwise it's a pretty low ceiling.

Secondly, I was really drawn by the stage of the company. When I thought about the best venue where my skills, experience and talents could be utilized, it wasn't at a small start-up. In a lot of ways, those companies are still just ideas and not yet viable, proven businesses. But a company like ExtraHop, at the $70-$100 million range, is a legitimate business and it also has the scale where you start to think about "How do I operationalize the business and streamline the way we go to market?" That's where my particular skills are and ExtraHop is right in that sweet spot. There's an opportunity here to go through a growth spurt, so to speak, if you can break through that $100 million wall. That's also the part where being at the company can be a lot of fun. And, candidly, people can make a lot of money during that phase.

Finally, the most important thing that made ExtraHop so attractive was the people. We spend a lot of time with our co-workers and everyone I might from ExtraHop seemed like a genuinely good person.

You're obviously bringing a wealth of experience to ExtraHop. What have you learned about leadership and team building that you're most excited to leverage at a company at this stage?

A good leader does a good job of articulating their vision for the business. So I'm most excited to bring my vision for the business and how it can grow. It's all part of helping ExtraHop fine-tune our vision for the marketplace. We need to help customers understand the problems we solve and the positive impact we can have on their business.

The other half of that is articulating a vision for the sales organization and how we go to market. My vision for how we scale, simply put, is that great technology companies and world-class sales organizations are built on three pillars: the people, our go-to-market model, and how we execute. There's a lot that goes into each one of those, but companies that grow in a meaningful way have all of those things working in alignment.

One of the pillars you mentioned is people. ExtraHop places a lot of emphasis on creating an environment where people can thrive. Can you elaborate on that, and the other two pillars?

When it comes to the people, it's about building and maintaining a culture where we do the right thing for our customers and the company, all while having a lot of fun doing it. It's also about training and enabling them to succeed. It's also about compensating and rewarding people the right way so we can retain and attract great talent. For the go-to-market pillar, it's about how we segment the market to create the right focus, whether it's geographically, vertically, or by company size. And also, how do we create territories inside of those segments so that there's a lot of opportunities for everyone to succeed and perform the way they want to. For the execution pillar, it's about creating a common way for us to sell when we go to market. If we have all of those things working in concert with a compelling market message, we can really get this engine humming. My focus these first few months is analyzing all the components of those pillars, so we can take all of the great stuff that ExtraHop is currently doing and do more of it.

ExtraHop places a lot of emphasis on maintaining a sense of humor day-to-day, so my last question is...what's the last thing that made you laugh?

Last night my 16-year old son-who is an awesome kid-was putting on his new sunglasses and I was reminded that sometimes he looks and acts a lot like Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. I hope that reference doesn't date me too much.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Get the latest from ExtraHop delivered straight to your inbox.