How’d You Get Here? with Colby Clegg: A Professional Journey

42 min video  /  38 minute read
 

Colby Clegg joins Arnell J. Ignacio to talk about his professional journey at Inductive Automation. In this discussion, they explore Colby’s experiences from the early days all the way to his current role as CEO. Colby also shares insight about what it is like to work at Inductive Automation, what makes IA such a unique place, his journey to becoming CEO, and much more. We also get a peak into Colby’s interests and what he envisions for the future.

“That culture of focusing on customers, of solving customer issues, deriving the fun from solving problems, I see it throughout the whole company.”

Bios:
Colby Clegg
Chief Executive Officer at Inductive Automation

Colby Clegg is the Chief Executive Officer of Inductive Automation. Colby has been with Inductive Automation since the company’s formation, and is one of the original creators of the Ignition software platform. After serving in a variety of leadership positions, including Co-Director of Software Engineering and VP of Technology, Colby was selected by Founder Steve Hechtman to become Inductive Automation’s CEO in 2022. As CEO, he oversees the company’s strategic vision and execution, ensuring that the goals set forth by the Board of Directors are achieved and maintained. Colby is dedicated to a long-term vision of establishing and maintaining Inductive Automation's role as a leader in the market, and Ignition as the platform of choice for all industrial software needs.

 

Transcription:

0:00:09
Arnell: Hello, and welcome to Inductive Conversations. My name is Arnell J. Ignacio. And in today's podcast, we're gonna be starting a brand new series called “How'd You Get Here?” In this podcast series, we're going to explore the journey of an IA employee from the very beginning, starting when they chose to work for Inductive Automation, all through to the point of where they are now. And what better way to start this podcast series than to interview our brand new CEO, Colby Clegg. Colby, thank you for joining us today.

0:00:38.
Colby: Of course. Great to be here.

0:00:40
Arnell: Before we begin, tell us a little bit about yourself.

0:00:44
Colby: Let's see, I met Steve in 2003 when I was attending UC Davis. And since that time I've been here helping to build and develop Inductive Automation and software. And just a few weeks ago, I was... I had the fortune to be able to take over this role as CEO. So, I'm excited to be here and talk about kind of the whole story if you want.

0:01:09
Arnell: Yeah. Excellent. Well, yeah, thank you and congratulations on this new role. But yeah, let's talk about this. So, I think it's what? More than about 20 years, 19, 20 years ago, you started on this journey, this adventure. Just a little background, both you and I were... We were at UC Davis and we were involved in some musical projects back in that time, but you were getting involved into this thing that you're working on today. And so can you give us more insight as to how that started and how did you first hear about that opportunity? 

0:01:48
Colby: Sure. Yeah. It's interesting, there are a number of people here at Inductive Automation that all come from that initial point at UC Davis. We're all friends and whatnot. So Arnell, and for the listeners, there's an Easter egg out there in the internet world of an EP that we recorded together at some point. But alright. So in the computer science circle at Davis, I was friends with Carl [Gould, Chief Technology Officer at Inductive Automation] and in that group, there was... I had another friend, and he was friends with somebody else, one Nathan Boeger who actually just came back to work here full time very recently after completing a career in the Navy. So okay. Nathan was a friend of a friend. Nathan grew up, his parents were family friends with Steve and Wendi. So towards the end of junior year, Nathan came up to me and he had kind of just been in my circle of friends and he said. "Hey, are you interested in a summer job? I work for a small company in Sacramento that does industrial automation and the owner, well they need a new website," right. That was the idea. And I had been doing a lot of website work and that kind of stuff in college to make money. And so I said, yeah, of course. So I went out to Sacramento and I was able to meet Steve and I worked on the website for a day, but then at the end of the day, we got to talking and basically he was like, we've been... He kind of told me what they did. I had no idea about how — anything about industrial automation, right? 

0:03:14 
Colby: But he told me about what they did as a systems integrator. And, he said, "I've been doing this since 1985," and this was 2003, again. And he goes, "I just see like so many ways that we could use, leverage open source software and technology that's available freely to do great things in an industry that is so costly. And so burdened by old, out of date software." So that was very exciting. He had an idea for a specific thing he wanted to do. And I said, "You know what? I like working on software a lot better than websites. So I'd be interested in working on that," and that's kind of how it started. So that was right before the summer after my junior year. And so I just kind of worked on it during the summer. And that was the start, I guess.

0:04:02 
Arnell: Excellent. And so is that something that you thought would continue past, once you graduated college, I mean? You have all these opportunities that you would probably have in front of you, and then you mentioned industrial software and the industrial space is kind of, I mean, definitely it's different from more of the consumer side, kind of like more of the Silicon Valley side.

0:04:23
Colby: Absolutely.

0:04:24
Arnell: What made you decide to continue on that path? 

0:04:27
Colby: Yeah, it is interesting. I'll admit upfront that happening into the industrial automation world to me has been one of the most fortuitous events of my life. Because I've been programming since I was 13, so computer science was always something I loved. I loved developing software, so, but I didn't have a very robust plan of what to do. I just knew I wanted to do that. And the time and place it was a very in-demand thing. I grew up outside of the Silicon Valley in the dot-com boom. I was in high school during... I went to college actually the year before the whole bubble burst. So that was interesting, but in my mind, yeah, I just thought, "Oh, I'll go work for Microsoft or Google after college."

0:05:08
Colby: I didn't really give it much more thought than that, kind of follow, like, get an internship and then try to get in. That was my rough plan through college. But once... Like I said, through college, I was doing kind of entrepreneurial type things. I had little businesses with some of my friends and doing that kind of stuff. So I always kinda liked that aspect, so when I met Steve and we started with this as a project basically, what can you build over the summer? Can we get this functionality done? And then it just snowballed in terms of, once we got something up and running, using it for a customer, we wanna do the next thing. The next thing I, right off the bat, like months in, I got Carl involved, so really from the beginning, we were both working on together. And so then it was just, you know, fun and there was just... I guess I just kind of got caught up and here we are, 19 years later. It just kept... It just kept going.

0:06:05 
Arnell: Yeah. Well, that's pretty cool, to have started something at that point and then to be where you are now. And so, I mean, you've gone a little bit into it, but describe your experience. Like what, is there anything memorable about that early experience? 'Cause this is the time before Inductive Automation was Inductive Automation. You're kind of like building this product. So, is there anything that pops out to you during that time? 

0:06:31
Colby: Yeah, yeah, that's right. And it wasn't exactly a product yet. I mean, it had a name and whatnot, but it was a tool for Cal-Metrics, the integration company, to serve the needs of the customers, to do what the customers wanted, get data, store it, make it visible and accessible to people. So, yeah, the early days, we were just trying to work on that functionality. Memorable, yeah. And so once we got to a certain point, a lot of customers don't wanna just buy software from an integrator 'cause it's a little bit risky. Integrators, you know, it's like a... It's a relationship. It comes, it goes whatever. So they... So we immediately, Steve said, "We have to have a separate company. We have to have a name if we're gonna sell this to other people." And so that's what we did. And we knew we had something to offer, but the most memorable part honestly, this is like a classic story, was trying to sell it. We make the website. We give it a name. We go out there to try to sell it to the public. And everyone initially just kinda laughed at us. Not the Cal-Metrics customers, but like... The first trade show we went to, they literally laughed at us. They said, "Why would we need another software package like this? You look around and there are probably a dozen different companies selling SCADA software, industrial software, right? "Why do we need another one?"

0:07:54
Colby: So that's pretty classic. And at that same trade show. So I had this experience, right? Somebody says, "We don't need this." Somebody else says, "I don't know." And then... But took my card. That person became one of our earliest and best customers. And we went on to have an over-10-year relationship with that individual who worked for a government laboratory. But, really great relationship until he retired. And so that's kind of... I love that. The dichotomy of at that same show being told you're not gonna make it. And then also establishing kind of a... Something that became kind of emblematic of how we do business with people.

0:08:32
Arnell: Yeah. No, that's excellent. And when you created this first instance of the software, at a certain point when you guys were developing it, at what point did you say this is something. Was there a moment where you watched it do something? Was there anything like that you said, "Okay. This is something amazing."

0:08:57
Colby: Really, truly. Steve had such a pent-up understanding of what he was trying to deliver to customers that right off the bat, we were able to do things for customers where they were just like, "Wow. This is incredible. This is great." But I think where it started to really like... When it got to a certain level of maturity, of course, with a software you could actually install it and it worked and whatnot. Then watching how it just grew organically was really something. Okay. So I have two stories that come to mind. One is... Okay. The first time... This is just kind of silly, but nonetheless. Like I said, Carl and I, the other people, we didn't... We came from the software world. We weren't in the industrial automation world. So early on, we went to one of our first customers to go visit them just to visit their production facility. It was over in Berkeley. Not that far away. And we walk in and we walk through and I believe it was a printing operation, yeah, like printing presses and stuff.

0:09:54
Colby: And we're walking through and we look up and there's a touch screen, right? And it's running our software. It's running what was called FactoryPMI at the time, the visualization software. And the guy reaches up and hits the button and the machine starts running. And Carl and I just looked at each other like, "Oh my gosh. This is real." It actually... This is amazing. It actually worked. So that's cool. But then in terms of kind of more to what you were asking I think, Steve had these certain... I'm sure a lot of people have heard these pain points and whatnot. There's things he really cared a lot about. One was that it should be able to... You should be able to install it quickly and easily. Two, that it should be unlimited, right? And what that meant was unlimited data, but it also meant, like, unlimited... Being able to launch clients and give access to people. And so I think one of the great stories that he likes to tell and I think it is a great story is that he was visiting a customer... At this time he was still doing PLC programming, all of that. He's at the customer doing some work...

0:10:56
Colby: The customer kind of expresses an issue... Saying, “Oh. I wish I could get this or whatever.” He goes, "You know what? Yeah. Okay." He heard it. And then the customer went off and was doing some work. By the time the customer came back, he had installed our software on a machine right there. He's like. "You know what? Don't worry. You don't have to buy this right now. You can run it in demo mode. Hit reset every two hours but I just threw this in there for you." He goes back like two weeks later and all of a sudden they had like five projects built and they were using it across like 20 or 30 people, right? And that was just... We were just blown away like people could take something and grow it and it would just grow, spread. And that's probably when it really hit us that there's something to this methodology.

0:11:39
Arnell: Yeah. That's amazing. And I think it still is up to its... To what it's doing now. You just give the software to anybody and within a short amount of time customers have multiple projects built out and it's doing amazing things. And as you've seen the community has developed some of the most amazing projects. Some of which we've never really imagined could be possible. But it's just great to see how this interplay between what you guys were doing and what the customers are doing, and then building that... The software along the way. And it's evolved quite tremendously since then.

0:12:10
Colby: Yeah.

0:12:11
Arnell: So leading into that, we're gonna talk about the journey from when you started up to now. So when I got into Inductive Automation, I believe you were the Co-Director of Software Engineering with Carl.

0:12:23
Colby: Yep.

0:12:24 
Arnell: Were you... Did you have any titles or roles before that? Before you became the co-director? 

0:12:30
Colby: Well, it's truly a story of a bootstrapped company coming outta the integration company that just grew organically, right? So it's like all along the way, we've had to develop the titles, develop the roles, shift them over time, kind of get our... Get in too deep and then figure out what we're doing and improve. So it's been a very organic process. So I don't know titles before that. We just... We got to the point where we needed to have directors in the company for the different divisions that were starting to form. Carl and I have always been just peers in terms of... The collaboration on the software, it's just been... That's part of... It's been wonderful, but we kind of represent kind of... We always just naturally had... I was on the data side, he's on the visualization side. And so, that's just kind of how it went. Yeah, co-directors, and then, all the way to now, today, where now I get to be CEO and he is now, become CTO. I still see that kind of collaboration there, you know? 

0:13:35
Arnell: Yeah. And looking back in those 19 years, did you ever imagine this happening? Did you ever imagine this progression? 

0:13:44
Colby: No, it's hard to say that, no, we were actually talking about that recently and it's... 'Cause people, they ask that often and trust me... By the way I have to say right out of the gates, I don't feel like we've... We're not... We're not there yet. It's just as exciting now, there's so much more to do. But in regards, going back to 2005, '06, '07, 'cause it's been long enough now. No, you build something, you know what you wanna do, you wanna... You set these milestones, you're trying to get it out there and get people using it. But it's really hard to kind of see... You know you wanna grow the company, you know you wanna be successful, but you don't totally know what that means at the time.

0:14:26
Arnell: Yeah. So you're... Yeah, you're just more focused on building this product and making the best that it can be. And yeah, it has been and it's becoming the de facto standard, where we're getting to a point where it is a lot of organizations are finding the value and the power of Ignition. So yeah, let's talk about the journey here at Inductive Automation. Could you, at a high level, walk us through what your journey looked like, when you first started all the way up to where you are now? 

0:14:55
Colby: Yeah, sure. It very much mirrors kind of the growth of the company and the different structures we've put in place over time. But initially, we were the only developers, Carl and I, and then we became the lead developers as we started to build a team. And then we became co-directors, it was the natural step as we... To add that management layer to the team. Over the years, we continued to add managers and whatnot, and then a few years ago we introduced a new corporate structure for the VP layer. So as we continued to grow, and we realized that having the CEO interact directly with 15 different directors wasn't feasible. So we added the VP layer and I took that role on, to help establish that, VP of Technology. And then leading up to this year, just recently when Steve asked me to step into the CEO role, so that he and Wendi could focus on the Executive Chairman of the Board role for themselves. So that's been the progression.

0:16:07
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And when you had that conversation, that you were to be elevated to a CEO, what was your initial thoughts? What were you feeling at the time? 

0:16:18
Colby: Oh, well, I mean, it was a surprise. I mean to a degree I've always been very involved in the business, right? Steve and I work really closely together, and we're always working on strategy and whatnot. So that aspect of it is fine. It doesn't... But this isn't... In typical Steve fashion, he gets an idea and then things can move pretty quickly. So it was a little bit... So that was kind of fun, but it was a whirlwind, but over the next... We took a few months to organize our plans, and so it's been... It's been interesting. Yeah. It's a lot of... It's very exciting, but yeah, it's been... It's been quite the whirlwind.

0:17:06
Arnell: I can imagine. I can imagine. And we've... We send out a lot of communications and we see a lot of chatter in social media, has there... Have you seen any immediate feedback on this announcement? 

0:17:20 
Colby: Well, I mean, a lot of positive support... I mean, I think the wonderful thing is that we've had such great relationships with so many customers over the years, that it's been just really very... A lot of kind messages and supportive messages, so I appreciate that greatly, but so yeah, the support of the community has been wonderful.

0:17:41
Arnell: So in your new role, what do you envision the future to look like, for the company, the software and for the industry? What is something that you see, moving forward? 

0:17:52 
Colby: Well, I see an interesting kind of crossroads at the moment. I mean, I think that coming out the last few years, everyone knows that we've seen how a lot of these concepts we've been talking about for so long. Digital Transformation, digitalization, all of these things that we've been working on for so long, how relevant they are right now, I mean, March, 2020, I don't think there's a company in the world that didn't wish they had better remote access and control of their processes and whatnot. So there's been a lot of changes. We're in an interesting place right now. And I mentioned, some of our historically fortuitous choices towards technology, right? And I see that playing out. I think we are in an incredible position to deliver what the market needs at a time it needs it the most, right? So, that's just very exciting to me. I think we have an incredible, multi-year plan, probably for the first time ever, if I could say that. We've always been focused on just the next version, the next version, but we have a plan right now that I think just really is exciting, to tie so many other things we've been working on for years together, into the ecosystem that's out there right now.

0:19:12 
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And as we talked about, ICC is coming up shortly here, and we have both an in-person and a virtual component... And this is exciting because we're going back into in-person. We're gonna be able to meet up with our customers again and have that community. What is something that excites you about ICC this year? What is something that you look forward to it? 

0:19:37
Colby: Oh, I don't know what to expect. I mean, I'm excited to get back there in-person, I think everyone is, right? And I think that it'll be really interesting to see, after three full years have passed, kind of just what it is like to get back together. You know, we've done two virtual ICCs and this will be a third one because it's an incredible way to connect to a huge audience, right? A lot more than we could ever fit over there at the facility, but yeah, to get back in-person and really just kinda see where things stand. You know, I feel like we're in this interesting situation, it is kind of a paradox where over the last few years, it feels like nothing has changed, yet... Of course everything has changed. You know, or you can say it reversed, I mean it feels like the world has been turned upside down, but you know we're just doing the same things every day, trying to... You know, deliver the core values and principles we have, so... Yeah, that's what I'm looking forward to, to get there, talk to people and kind of see where things are.

0:20:37
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. From your perspective and how you see the company as a whole, how would you describe the culture here at Inductive Automation? 

0:20:47 
Colby: Well, you know, one thing that's interesting is that... I mean, I truly think that throughout the entire company, there's a real mentality that everyone just wants to do their best, do the best we can for the customer, you know? And our HR team is kind of maniacal about finding great people who share that value. And I think you see it throughout the whole company, so that's very... You know, that's great. And again, I've talked to... I think in this conversation, I mentioned Steve's vision originally in his... His kind of conviction, and that has translated through the years into more structured definition of what our values are. We talk about our four pillars that we try to focus on, and staying customer focused. So I think that those are some of the key... Having that kind of foundation is really important for the company, you see the way it makes an impact.

0:21:50 
Arnell: So yeah I've heard some feedback from some employees about the work-life balance here at IA and that Inductive Automation has a good sense on that. Is that something that you also see as well? 

0:22:03
Colby: Yeah, I do. I think it's very, very important. We've made it a point over the last... For our whole existence, or maybe... Maybe I can't say that because the early days we were working pretty darn hard, but as we've grown and we found a rhythm, and we think that that work-life balance is really important, yeah, so I really appreciate that aspect of our company.

0:22:26 
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And then you touched upon that Inductive Automation is a remote-first company, and that we've been seeing a lot more employees being hired across the United States. Do you find that has opened a lot of opportunity for us and for individuals? 

0:22:49
Colby: Oh yeah, absolutely. And it's interesting because that was, you know, a 180-degree change from the way we did things before the pandemic, when... When... March 2020, we immediately pivoted to remote-first and we basically never looked back. I think it's a wonderful system we've established. I think it... You know, we were able to leverage technology and we were just kind of... Just fortunate that we were in a position to be able to transition so easily, and so now we have... We have employees that we've hired remotely, that's been great, we were able to hire back previous employees that had to move because of whatever family situation. And then we've had employees here who now have been able to move to accommodate a certain need or whatnot. So I love it, I think it's great. I think that there are challenges of continuing to feel connected and build a culture of that team spirit that has been so core to our company for forever, but I think we're doing a great job at it, and so I'm very happy with where we are at.

0:24:05
Arnell: Excellent, yeah, it looks like we're getting a lot of great people and there's a lot of variety that's coming into our organization and that we're reaching out to all different areas of the United States. So I think that's excellent. There's a lot of programs that have been developed at Inductive Automation in terms of a path of success. Can you talk more about that in terms of how employees can progress in our organization? 

0:24:33
Colby: Yeah, yeah, for sure. As we've grown and have created larger divisions, we've recognized that it's important to kind of create a structure and pathway around progressing because we have, for example, lots of technical roles throughout the whole company, and so we created initially what we called the Technical Pathways Program, and so that's a program that's hosted in the Support Department. It starts off with the tech analyst role, and it's a place where people come in, they learn about the software, the technology, the industry, and then from there they can progress into support or into other technical roles in the company. And so that was a great program where we continue to evolve it and work on it, and now we're starting to replicate that over in the, what we call the Professional Pathway Program over on the sales side and the more none... None purely technical roles. So yeah, we care... I mean, like I said, as an organically grown company, I think they are just built into us, this mindset of career development and growth, and so as we grow and become bigger and bigger, it's important for us to add structure that maintains that.

0:25:53
Arnell: No, no, I think that's excellent, and it gives a lot of employees a clear... A somewhat clear vision of where they can progress in the organization, so I think that's a fantastic thing to have and they're great programs. So during this time, during your journey into IA, is there anything memorable, like anything that jumps out to you as some of the most memorable moments to you?

0:26:21
Colby: Well, I already mentioned the early trade show, but then down the road... There's a lot of, of course, memorable moments in terms of just discovering what people can do with the software. Some of the development cycles when we went from the legacy products into Ignition, that was a major, major move that we made back in 2010. We started that in 2009. There's a lot of interesting stories around that, but since I mentioned what customers can do with it, I guess one, if I could jump to ICC, for example, and maybe we'll talk more about ICC, the Ignition Community Conference, but we started that conference and we're coming up on our 10th edition of it right now, next month. But we started that conference and we didn't know what to do, what to expect, and the first year was just so much work, so much work to put on. And it was a great event. It was really great. But the next year, we said, "Wow, okay, this is... We have to do it again, but this is way too much."

0:27:32
Colby: "We should do it every other year, at least, or maybe never again." I don't know. It's a great event but it's a lot of work, right? So we show up there and... So this would have been 2014 I believe, right? So we show up there at the second edition and on stage, the first day, I believe Steve says, or one of us says, "Okay, this is great. We're gonna go to every other year." And then immediately after we got out of the keynote, people were just like, "We don't like this, we're gonna show up next year, no matter what, whatever." We said, "Oh, okay, okay." But what happened there, really what happened was that at that conference, people would come up to us and say, "Hey, look what I've... Look what I've done, look what I've built. Look what we're doing."

0:28:14 
Colby: And the next morning before the second day keynote, we were all right behind the curtain. Steve, Carl, myself, Travis, I think we're all there, and we're just like, "It is insane what people are doing. They are doing things we didn't even know were possible with our software." And we're all telling stories. And that's when it struck us that if we don't do this every year, how... This is the best place to learn about what people are doing, and that's when the tide turned between what we thought people needed and what... From the whole time we were building what people asked for, but what we thought they needed to a place where we had to realize, we don't know what people are doing with it now. It's taken on a life of its own. So that was a huge milestone for me, I think.

0:29:02
Arnell: No. And it's actually good that you mentioned that. Over the years, we've seen the community, the Ignition community, just run with the software and create amazing projects with it, and you could see that there's this mutual relationship that is happening between development and our users where a lot of the things that they have been looking for, it does to a certain degree it gets into the software. So it's just amazing to see that relationship between the two... Not a lot of other companies have that type of... Type of user base that's so vocal and so excited about the software and that's amazing.

0:29:43
Colby: Well, and I think it really... It starts with our roots being... Starting as an integrator, we were out there using the software ourselves, and Carl and myself, we did projects. All of us early from up until, I don't know, 2008 or '09 we were actively involved out there as well. And so we just developed from the start, this fundamental mentality of trying to create pragmatic and what we call tangible solutions. Just things that just solve problems and yeah, it's fascinating. As we grow and our customer base grows and whatnot, the challenges change a little bit, but we're pretty dedicated to try and to stay true to those fundamental principles.

0:30:32
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And I wanna get into this, to the idea of working at Inductive Automation. I know there's a lot of conversations we had, it's a unique place to work in, especially in the tech space. You hear about a lot of those Silicon Valley companies that grow rapidly, that offer a lot of all these different things, but a lot of those organizations are venture capitalists funded. There's a lot of fund seeding, but IA is different in that aspect, and you've mentioned that we're... We started a bootstrap company and we have been organically growing. Can you talk more about that and how that playing into the culture of our company? 

0:31:14 
Colby: Yeah, it is interesting. It kinda represents, in some circles, a little bit of an old school way of building a business. Not for a techy to a degree, but it's to me fundamental to our success in the industrial automation space. So you know it's about kinda overlaying what we do, how we do it and what the industry that we're in needs. It's an industry that looks for long-term relationships, I mean... Okay, so in the early days, we spent probably the first five years of selling our software, explaining to people how we'll be around, how we'll be... Everyone would say, "How do I know you're gonna be here in 10 years? I need this software to be around for 20 years or whatever." They used to say these things all the time. And venture capital and whatnot, the system that's predominant right now, it's great for enabling people to test ideas and try fast, fail fast, whatever. That's fine, but then even when it works the whole scheme is built around an exit strategy in a 8 to 10 year window typically. So the approach we've taken it just... It lets us be so much more calm and long-term thinking. And I think that then has an impact on the whole experience that people have here. It's... Yeah.

0:32:40
Arnell: Excellent. Yeah. Yeah. So in terms of... In your personal view of working here at IA, what drives you day in day out to do what you do? 

0:32:54
Colby: Well for me personally, I mean it... There's no end to the number of things we can do, right? We are very fortunate. We have made choices from the start that are technologically fortuitous in terms of choosing technologies and methodologies that have now come into... To a place over the last few years that, where they're just as relevant as ever, right? And our customer base is incredibly diverse. We very... very carefully chose what we would work on and put into the software to keep the applicability broad right? So now we have a customer base, this is very diverse. So with those two things there's just so much potential. And so like anything and especially after doing it for so long you can get kind of bogged down in the details of this and that but when you step back and you look at the opportunities and kind of just the fun of creating things that help people, that's what I still get just as excited about as ever, right? And I think that that has... That culture of focusing on customers, of solving customer issues, deriving the fun from solving problems, I see it throughout the whole company. I see it, obviously, support, sales, training, all these people I interact with. And for the other divisions of the company that are a little bit more internal, we're always trying to think of how we can get them to feel that and to kind of see that customer side even more because I think it's just what makes us special honestly.

0:34:33.5 
Arnell: Yeah. No definitely. And it's great to see everyone working together for the common goal. And yeah... And from my perspective, everyone is looking to solve a problem wherever it may be, whether it be with the customers or whether internally, but I think we're all driven to solve problems and achieve some great things out of the collaboration that we have here at Inductive Automation. So do you see any challenges that could be of an issue for you? 

0:35:06
Colby: I suppose a couple of the challenges are one: it's hard to find people right now. We've gone remote-first, which is great for being able to hire people remotely, but, well, the job market is tough and just finding the people we need is hard, so capacity is an issue. I think the other thing is that, like I said, the flip side of having such a diverse customer base is that now as we get deeper into these different industries the requests and the needs get ever more exigent. And so it's a challenge to keep up with that. And then finally we have always approached the market from a leveraging technology to reach as far as we can from our core hub. We have a select group of distributors right now around the world. There's eight of them. People... Companies that we've found who replicate our ideology and who can work really closely with us, but I think reaching the broader market, the broader world is... It's a challenge.

0:36:19 
Arnell: So among the talents that you have here at Inductive Automation, do you have talents outside of work? From my understanding you speak Italian, is that correct? 

0:36:29
Colby: Yeah that's right.

0:36:30
Arnell: Yeah. How long have you been speaking Italian? 

0:36:35 
Colby: Oh, I got started at the end of my college time because I actually... So my degree is computer science engineering with a minor in Latin. So I took Latin for eight years from high school and then continued in college as just something I like to do. But it's finally, I got to a place where I was like okay this is not entertaining anymore. And I thought well what can I do with this? And I go, “Well, I'm gonna pivot it.” And I thought... So I sat there and I thought, “Okay I gotta go to some sort of romance language.” And so I picked Italian and then I got started and then I loved it. And so then I kind of went from there and then eventually I was able to connect it to work. And I have a wonderful relationship with our distributor EFA in Italy. And I get to go out there and do presentations and meet customers and it's just the most fun. So it's really become a part of my life.

0:37:19
Arnell: Excellent. No, that's pretty cool. And then other things that I know is that I know you were a bowler in college. Is that something you still do today or? 

0:37:29
Colby: No.

0:37:29
Arnell: No.

0:37:29 
Colby: No, I don't, but it's... My family, we did that. That was like what we did together. It was great. And it was through there most people like, think, don't know this but everyone knows Travis Cox, Ignition wizard extraordinaire our new Chief Technology Evangelist. I met him, I was 16, he was 13, I met him in a bowling league back home. And so then we became friends and we started a business together. And did technology work through high school and then college as well. And so then it's just followed along as well.

0:38:05
Arnell: Yeah. Do you ever...

0:38:06
Colby: And we were on the bowling team in college too which was really, really a disaster. That guy though, I mean that guy, he's good. He's good. I was never good. He was super good. So I think he's got something like 30 or so 300s under his belt or something.

0:38:20
|Arnell: Oh, geez. Yeah. I think he's still... He's competing still, right? Like...

0:38:23
Colby: Oh, I don't know. You'll have to ask him but.

0:38:26 
Arnell: Oh, okay.

0:38:26
Colby: But yeah. I do remember... I think now that he's got kids and stuff it's less serious but right before that for a little while I think he went out with a bang with I believe the men's high average for the entire state of California for something like one or two seasons.

0:38:42
Arnell: That's cool. Yeah. I would... Do you ever imagine yourself getting back into it or is it just something that's...

0:38:48 
Colby: I tried but it didn't, it didn't go very well. So I've pivoted to other things like golf and... Yeah.

0:38:56
Arnell: Okay. Okay. Cool. Cool. And then as who spoke in the... Previously, we were involved with some music projects, and you said we have an EP, are you still playing guitar or is it something that's kind of an off-and-on thing or? 

0:39:12
Colby: Yeah, not much at all. I did just, I brought it out the other day just for fun, and I realized how much I missed it, but, yeah, no, I haven't been doing very much. I also have a banjo on my wall that I got that I intend to pick up at some point, that's my new adventure, but I haven't done that yet.

0:39:28
Arnell: Yeah, you could just join the IA band, expand it.

0:39:32
Colby: That's right, IA Band.

0:39:34
Arnell: Very cool, very cool. And are there any other hobby... I know you cycle, you go... Is that something that you do quite often? 

0:39:46
Colby: Yeah, no, I love cycling. I never thought I'd get into it. There's a really funny story about how a while ago, I don't know, 2009 or '10, I think Steve was into it for a little while because he was into it for a little while, and so he had Inductive Automation cycling jerseys made for everyone. And I got this and I was like, "Well, that's nice", but I was like, "You know what? You'll find me, I don't know, dead in the river before you'll ever see me on a bike" or something, I don't know what I said, it was pretty... I like to be a little dramatic. And I was like, “Yeah, I'm never gonna use this.” And then years later, I started, and so my wife still makes fun of me and I'm like, "Do I still have that Inductive Automation jersey around?" She's like, "No, don't you".

0:40:30 
Colby: So I started that in 2015, and then it made me really appreciate where we live, this area. Folsom, California, is just amazing for cycling, the surrounding area has been the training grounds of some of the most famous cyclists, actually, Greg LeMond, and now today even Neilson Powless, who's in the Tour De France and whatnot right here. So it's wonderful, and then this is the epicenter of the California Gold Rush, so you're out there riding around, and that was just a part of history that I loved learning about in school, and then one day I was out there riding around and look up, right on the other side of the lake is where gold was originally found, Sutter's Mill. So it's really made me appreciate where I live, and so I love that.

0:41:14
Arnell: Excellent, excellent. And have you competed in any way in cycling at all, or...

0:41:21
Colby: Competed, no, that was never a desire of mine, but I have... What kind of got me interested in it was the idea of going long distances, going through scenic areas, and so I've done a lot of that, I've been able to go, not just this area, out to the coast, there's some great events they do, Levi's GranFondo, is an event out in Santa Rosa to the coast. It's absolutely beautiful, so to be able to do those things were major accomplishments, and then I've gone to Europe a few times and whatnot to ride, and so it's a great way to see the area.

0:41:53
Arnell: Okay, well this wraps up our first episode of How'd You Get Here?, here with Colby Clegg, the new CEO of Inductive Automation. Colby, thank you so much for joining us today, we highly enjoyed our conversation and thank you for all that you're doing for us.

0:42:09
Colby: No, well thank you Arnell, it was really great to chat with you and I look forward to seeing you at ICC and seeing everyone.

0:42:19 
Arnell: Yep, will do, see everyone at ICC. Thank you.

Posted on September 6, 2022