• People in tech
  • 18 Apr 2024

“Empower your team to try new ideas; they are the experts in their field.“ an interview with Max Weltz, CEO Wehype

Essential Strategies for Tech Leadership - CEO Spotlight

“Empower your team to try new ideas; they are the experts in their field.“ an interview with Max Weltz, CEO Wehype

The interview with Max Weltz, CEO Wehype

Meet Max Weltz, the dynamic product manager with a passion for innovation. With a decade of experience spanning B2B telecom, CRM/ERP, and B2C gaming, Max brings a unique blend of technical prowess and industry insight to the table. 

In an interview with Max, CEO Wehype (currently working on his own data platform project for PC and console games) and a great supporter of his team, we discovered his main insights when it comes to encouraging the team to create a clever product development strategy. He demonstrates how to communicate effectively with people, what to say to them, and how to help them be productive and excel in their roles. Follow this article to explore more about team dynamics, AI intelligence in software development, and intriguing perspectives from a CEO.

  1. Can you tell us a bit about your journey in the tech industry and what led you to your current role?

Max: I started my career in the telecom B2B industry as a tech sales specialist. It rapidly led me to a product ownership role on the company’s management software platform. I eventually got the chance to apply my tech sales skills in the gaming industry, and since then I have been owning tech and game products at gaming companies of various sizes.

  1. In your opinion, what leadership qualities do you think are most critical to driving innovation within a digital-first organization?

Max: As a leader, your team might not be used to being allowed to innovate. They might have been instead given tickets from on-high time and time again or had to deal with all sorts of micro-management practices. The first step towards innovation is to empower your team to try new ideas or new ways to implement old ideas. 

Remind your team that they are the experts in their field and that the organization trusts they are the ones best placed to deliver value. And hopefully, that is actually true. Without trust, innovation and success will not happen.

  1. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your role, and how have you addressed them?

Max: Early on, in the competitive telecom B2B market, I observed that our customers (large telecom operators) came to us with a rather firm vision for what they expected from our product, a vision  that came from presentations they had from our competition. That’s when I first realized you are selling a service as much as a vision, and that ultimately your service might be easily replaced, but not your vision. An organization that can’t articulate a clear vision is doomed to fail, both internally and externally. Tech can be replaced. An understanding of your customers that allows you and them to fulfil their needs, less so. Getting an organization to realize they do not have a vision, or not one they can leverage, is a tall order and will usually require a lot of massaging of the stakeholders to get them to come to that realization. But once you get there, it will unlock the next level for your organization.

  1. What core values guide your decision-making process as a tech leader?

Max: Empathy. Empathy for the customer and their needs and pain points. Empathy for the team that is delivering value time and time again. Empathy for the stakeholders who need to be kept informed, educated, and listened to. It is a delicate balancing act.

  1. Looking at the tech landscape today, what trends do you believe are most important for tech leaders to pay attention to?

Max: On the purely technical side, AI is the obvious one. Whether it is as a tool to assist you and your team to help deliver better services to customers, or as the core of your services, AI will make the difference. Right now it is early and a lot of ideas are floated around, but the amount of energy poured into it every day pretty much guarantees that we will get some winners out of the pack. As a tool, AI has the potential to address real problems, if not in their entirety, but at least enough to free up time and energy for your team to tackle more essential and complex problems.

On the leadership side, work-life balance is taking a more and more important place in the discourse, for instance when it comes to remote, hybrid, or in-office work or the four-day work week. It is, in my eyes, counterproductive to stick to old models and cut yourself off from a lot of the talents who are out there, and not to treat that talent the best you can. Some organizations fail to realize they are turning their backs on win-win situations by not addressing these topics with a modern outlook.

  1. How do you balance quick wins with long-term innovation in product development?

Max:  Carefully, of course! It is unlikely your organization was signed a blank check to just go and innovate, so you will need to keep delivering value over time and not just take shots at the moon. This is best done by finding a balance between high-visibility high-value work, innovating in the direct continuity or adjacency of your product, and fundamental innovation that takes many attempts to bear fruit but may one day leapfrog the competition. The hard part is to continuously justify the efforts around the latter by what you deliver in the former in the short to medium term.

  1. What key factors do you consider when planning to scale your tech team to match company growth?

Max: A key consideration to have in mind is to start bringing different profiles into the team. Do not just add more developers of a similar profile of your existing team. Bring frontend developers, data analysts, UX experts, QA specialists, juniors, seniors, etc. Look for activities closely connected to the core of your team, bring people in for whom it is core, and free up the time for everyone to focus on their core strengths. And if it doesn’t connect to the core at all or is a one-off effort, it might be a good opportunity to look at outsourcing it.

  1. How do you design products & features that meet what your customers are looking for and also drive your company’s goals forward?

Max: That’s the easy part! Know your customers. And know your company’s vision. Find your customers, listen to them, ask them questions, and find out their needs, pain points, and motivations. Find where they intersect with your company’s vision and where you have minimal competition, and start building a top-notch experience around the unique vision you articulate.