I sat down with Ben Henderson, A Cloud Guru’s new VP of Product, to talk about his road to the cloud, and what he has planned for the future of the world’s largest online cloud training platform.
After training over 1,500,000 students and acquiring another online cloud training provider, A Cloud Guru needed a leader to focus on maturing the future of its growing product. Ben was brought in to lead the strategic direction of the entire A Cloud Guru platform, including both the individual learning experience as well as its business offering.
His teams will build features that provide a rich, cloud agnostic customer experience. These features will support the learning and consumption of the entire A Cloud Guru content library, which ranges from beginner to advanced levels, and covers all of the major public cloud providers (such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft Azure) as well as supportive services like containers, serverless, and DevOps.
Ben joins A Cloud Guru from global software company Help Scout. He brings with him an extensive entrepreneurial background.
VP of Product
What Ben does: “My focus has always been on building high performing product teams. I am here to set up people with the right practices and processes and then get out of their way.”
What initially drew you to A Cloud Guru?
I’ve always found learning in technology really challenging. My experience at college studying computer science showed me that technology is moving faster than formal institutions can teach.
When I first started talking to Sam Kroonenburg (CEO and co-founder) and John McKim (SVP of Product & Engineering), they spoke to that experience and the understanding that the cloud changes even more regularly than a lot of the rest of web technologies. So that is what initially attracted me. I’ve used online learning throughout my career. And the opportunity to add some value in that area is really exciting.
I’ve also always been a fan of brands that have a really strong personality. Seeing the brand and the content made me realize that A Cloud Guru was a little bit different. And I liked that.
What is your vision for the product?
ACG has always been known for the quality of its content. I’m really excited about the future of a product that not only delivers amazing content, but also gives students the power to put those skills into practice right within the app in a way that no other tool on the market does. Adding new features and tools that power the learning experience is going to be a real focus to us.
We will also continue to evolve our own product with new tools that are available in the cloud. What’s cool about our platform is that it’s a product that is built in the cloud for the cloud. As the technology continues to advance, we will utilize new tools to provide an even more intelligent and personalized learning experience so that students can learn faster.
What types of people are you looking for to build out your teams?
What we’re looking for is what I call creative, strategic thinkers. Product managers and leaders who are customer centric, focused on product strategy, and can work with the teams to identify what the future holds. We have a really great core product, but we’re in that inevitable phase where the opportunities are endless, and it’s going to require really smart people to figure out what our customers want.
ACG has always been a product that was ruthlessly focused on what’s best for its customers. I want people that will continue to embody our values. Particularly around being thoughtful but decisive, but also making it fun. It’s easy for tech products to get very serious very quickly. We’re looking for people who will add an element of quirkiness, creativity or fun to the product that will continue that legacy.
On a more personal level, I’m very much in the servant master school of management. I’m here to set up people with the right practices and processes and then get out of their way. There are people that work well in that environment. The ones that are keen to work in an autonomous way, and to have a lot of ownership over a large, strategic part of the product.
Moving forward, how do you plan to bring our mission to teach the world to cloud to life?
I’d love for people to say that we fundamentally shaped the way people learn online. Anyone can watch a YouTube video about cloud technology. I’m most proud that we’re creating a product that goes above and beyond that to add a layer of education and assistance to people to identify what they should be learning, and how they should learn it. That’s something that ACG has always had at its heart.
The second thing is we created a product that changed people’s lives either their careers or their organizations. We’re already doing this but we have a long way to go before we consider that done.