Inocybe CEO Mathieu Lemay on his growth as CEO of a growing company

Mathieu Lemay says he has grown a lot in 12 years as a CEO. (Inocybe)

Mathieu Lemay sees marked changes in himself over the 12 years he has been CEO of open networking solutions provider Inocybe.

For one thing, it has become “more about managing profit and loss than managing the technology,” Lemay said.

And strategic alignments are front and center, he said. “How do we execute the plan is the priority.”

Lemay is demonstrating what goes into the maturing of a CEO, one whose startup is now an established enterprise. As the CEO of a new company, “I managed all facets of operations, from human resources to R&D design,” Lemay said.

He was also more easygoing, whereas now he has grown into “a solid CEO making the hard decisions.”

Another key learning? “Being able to say no was an important step because when you are a young company you are just trying to get revenue so you say yes to everyone,” Lemay said.

There are also learnings that go along with hiring and managing people. “I was too nice and too loose then, probably not too strict,” Lemay said. “You struggle with how do you inspire people to get the most from themselves without managing them too much.”

It’s “more about the level of mentorship,” Lemay said.

The company is now using a program in which employees “are the owners of their destinies, as long as we make them aware of where we are going,” Lemay said.

As for his executive team, “they fill all the gaps in my personality,” Lemay said.

Overall, when it comes to staff, it takes evolving and letting go. “Now you have the right people in the right place,” Lemay said. “People who do a better job than you.”

Lemay is also a strong believer in corporate values that combine the human touch and products, with the company having three guiding principles:

  • Collaborative innovation. We believe that innovation and project success is achieved through collaboration.
  • Details matter. Building a network, expanding the code base of an open source community project and aligning with our customers requires not only vision but also an understanding of the little things.
  • We embrace change as a reality, not something to manage. It is who we are as a company. That means we are always flexible, forward-looking and our people are our greatest asset.

Another lesson along the way has been about financing. “Getting the right investors is extremely important and a lesson I’ve learned over the years,” Lemay said. “Choose your investors carefully. Make sure they are fully aligned with you.”

Twelve years as CEO of Inocybe “has been a roller-coaster ride,” Lemay said. “For every success, there was a failure and for every failure there was something to learn.”

His CEO journey “has been about learning to know my strengths and weaknesses,” Lemay said.

Fast Five with Mathieu Lemay

What keeps you up at night?

The responsibility of continuing to grow the company and make it an awesome place to work at.

What is the key to new revenue growth?

Leveraging the right partnerships and alliances. We need to stand on the shoulders of giants and help them be successful.

When did you know you wanted to be a CEO?

Last year is when I realized this is what I really wanted to do in life.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 lowest and 10 highest), how much of a priority do you place on the following things at your company: people, process and technology?

  • People—9
  • Process—7
  • Technology—6

What do you wish you had known 5 years ago that you know now?

Agility is important, but one must not always go after the next shiny thing.