Jeff Somers recently joined us as HouseCanary’s President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). We sat down with him to talk about his background and reflect on his first week with HouseCanary.
Can you start us off with something interesting about yourself outside of work?
I just completed my third Boston Marathon over the last three years. I got a personal record, which is great — I ran a 3:19. There’s an expression that pops up at Boston College, where all three of my kids are students, about understanding what you’re good at, understanding what brings you joy, and understanding what the world needs you to do. This is one of those opportunities where I can hit all three: I’m a reasonably good runner, it gives me joy to do it, and I get to help the American Red Cross with their mission of helping those in need. So I’m able to raise money for something I think is really important and valuable, and impactful in a lot of peoples’ lives.
So, what is your impression of HouseCanary now that you’ve been here a week?
My impression is enthusiastically positive. There’s a tremendous opportunity in front of HouseCanary, and we are well positioned as a business to go after it. The best part of coming here, though, has been meeting our people and recognizing the talent that we have here. There’s a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm and smarts across our company.
That’s what’s going to help us realize this vision that we have for our customers and for our partners. It’s going to be all about how we pull together as a team, and how collectively we make progress toward this grand vision and opportunity that we have.
Do you know everyone’s names yet?
[laughter] I don’t know everybody’s names yet, although I’m trying. I think another week or so and I should be able to recognize at least everybody in the San Francisco office. I’ve got plans to try to get out to the Boulder office in another ten or twelve days, and then we’ll have to see if I can quickly work my way out to San Antonio after that and see the entire universe of HouseCanary offices.
In your own words, what are your responsibilities going to be here as President and COO?
The job is day-to-day operating responsibility for the business. For me, what that means is making sure that we’ve got real clarity about what it is we’re trying to get done, helping to ensure that that leads to clear priorities about what we should be working on, and driving accountability for solid execution and outcomes.
It all comes back to doing something wonderful for customers, and the faster we can do that and the better we can do that, the better opportunity we have to make this really successful.
What teams or people will you work with most closely?
Day to day it will be a combination of Jeremy, of course, our CEO, and our Senior Management Team, although I plan to spend time with different teams around the company as needed. Wherever folks need some assistance getting some obstacles cleared out of their way, that’s where I’ll get involved to see if we can’t take care of that quickly.
What part of your background do you think is going to be most valuable at HouseCanary?
Stamina from running marathons can’t hurt!
I’ve been fortunate to have been part of some really wonderful companies, and my background lends itself well to the kinds of challenges we have here. When I think about where I’ve been and what’s made those companies successful, it has been all about building and supporting great teams of people doing great work. And that’s what we want to be here — that’s certainly what I hear from talking to folks, and the questions they’re asking. I think it’s all about, “how do you get there?” I’ve been fortunate to have been part of a lot of those kinds of teams, and building those kinds of teams in my past, and so I think it’s going to be very useful here.
We’re also in the midst of thinking about how we bring a clearer product strategy to life, and how that aligns to our customers. And a big part of my background is in product management.
Lastly, and most importantly, every company I’ve been with and that’s been very successful, has been successful for one reason: they really focus on the customer. They understand who that customer is and what they’re trying to do to help them. That’s who they wake up every day serving, and that’s who they’re willing to run through walls for. So we all have to understand who that customer is, and how it is we’re trying to help them so that we can be an important part of their lives.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the world about HouseCanary?
We’re a great company with a tremendous upside, and we’re looking for great people. If you’re interested in what we’re doing, please reach out. We’d love to talk to you, because we’re always trying to find great people who can add their talents to our mission.
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