Dan Waldschmidt, CEO, Panzura 

Dan Waldschmidt, CEO, Panzura 

Panzura is a leading innovator in global file systems and hybrid cloud data management and helps distributed organisations increase productivity by optimising digital asset visibility, access, sharing and storage costs. In January, Dan Waldschmidt was made CEO. Prior to this he was Chief Revenue Officer for the company. He spoke to us about his management philosophy and his three go-to productivity tricks.  

Describe your current job role  

My role as CEO of Panzura is incredibly dynamic and, frankly, exhilarating. I’m wholly focused on steering the ship, guiding its strategic direction and ensuring we’re not just achieving, but surpassing our goals. Since re-founding the company four years ago, I’ve focused on transforming our approach to revenue generation and aggressively moving us into the enterprise market. My days are filled with encouraging our team’s growth, forging meaningful partnerships and driving innovation to solve the complex challenges our customers face. It’s about leading by example, being hands-on with our team while allowing them to shine and ensuring we deliver unmatched value, security and control over data management to our customers. My job, in essence, is to keep Panzura at the forefront of our industry, constantly pushing the envelope and setting new standards. 

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?  

I think the most memorable achievements in our lives and careers are the ones that test our limits and propel us forward, expanding our understanding of what’s possible. For me, that would be running the equivalent elevation of Mount Everest in a single attempt. It wasn’t just about the physical endurance needed, but the mental resilience and determination it demanded from me. This experience has definitely impacted my professional life, teaching me the power of tenacity, the importance of setting audacious goal, and the value of perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Thinking back to it is a useful reminder that with the right mindset, we can achieve extraordinary things, both personally and professionally. 

What style of management philosophy do you employ in your current position? 

One of my mantras is ‘how we do anything is how we do everything’. That means approaching everything we do with the same level of commitment, however small, because it sets the tone for the company. I’m also deeply committed to nurturing a culture where everybody feels heard. It’s vital that those in leadership positions earn the trust and respect of those they lead. That means staging regular ‘town hall’ meetings, ensuring every employee is aware of our strategic objectives and being more transparent about the actions we’re taking because they impact everybody. Accountability is also crucial. Our success comes from actions, but those actions mean little without accountability. That starts with me; I’m accountable to our employees, our customers, our vendors, our partners and the board. 

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry? 

Looking ahead, there are three big things on our radar: Generative AI, beefing up our defences against ransomware and rolling out what we’re calling ‘Detect and Rescue’ capabilities. With GenAI, it’s all about getting smarter with our tech. We’re diving deep into this, thinking about how it can make our products do more for our customers. It’s not just about jumping on the GenAI bandwagon, it’s about figuring out how it can genuinely make a difference in managing and understanding all the data we handle. Ransomware resilience is equally critical. It’s about staying ahead, ensuring our defences are robust enough to protect against evolving threats. Our approach isn’t just defensive; it’s proactive. The Detect and Rescue initiative is a testament to this, leveraging AI to anticipate potential threats before they materialise. This balance of innovation and security is what we believe sets us apart, committing to not only meet but exceed the expectations of those we serve. 

If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be? 

I talk a lot about resilience and perseverance, and these characteristics have certainly served me well throughout my career. However, one of the things I was relatively slow to learn, and wish I had learned sooner, is that it’s okay to ask for help and seek knowledge and mentorship from others. There’s probably some truth in ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, immersing yourself in an environment until you pick things up and are able to do the job effectively, but pretending you have it all figured out from the outset will only hamper your progress. So that’s the thing I would change – instead of persevering and thinking I had to overcome every challenge I faced on my own, I’d reach out to more knowledgeable people for their guidance and build a better support network for myself.  

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry? 

For anyone aspiring to reach a C-level position in our industry, my advice is to embrace resilience and be prepared to navigate through uncertainty. The journey to the top is rarely linear; it’s filled with challenges that test your resolve, creativity and ability to lead under pressure.  

What behaviour or personality trait do you most attribute your success to and why? 

That would be my relentless commitment to always levelling up, and constantly asking, ‘How can we do this better?’ We should never rest on our laurels or just be satisfied with the status quo; there is always room for improvement. It’s about setting lofty goals, breaking them down into actionable steps and maintaining the discipline to push forward, even when progress seems slow.  

What’s your go-to productivity trick? 

I actually have three go-to productivity tricks that all work at various times depending on what I’m trying to achieve. They boil down to three key practices: music, running and the Pomodoro Technique. Music is my go-to when I really need to focus my mind or pull my thoughts out of a rut, whether I’m strategising or diving into some deep work. It’s amazing how the right piece of music can change your perspective and energise your thoughts. Then there’s running. Running is more than just exercise to me; it’s a form of moving meditation. I do a lot of long-distance running, but even the shortest burst can clear my head, give me new ideas and ‘reset’ my energy levels. The last trick is the Pomodoro Technique, which sounds complicated but really just involves working in focused, uninterrupted sprints of 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break. I find that pacing myself like this helps me maintain a high level of productivity and concentration throughout the day. If anyone out there is struggling with burnout, I’d highly recommend it. 

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