The Inc. Magazine has a tremendous history of featuring multiple top-notch business leaders and innovative ventures in its portfolio that are revamping their domains with excellent performance and unwavering dedication.
And here again, our industrial team has dug its feet into the exceptional journey of one such extraordinary leader in the realm, Fred Crehan. He is a pioneering leader in the panorama of innovative technologies, having taken the helm to enable businesses with the ability to innovate and thrive in the emerging digital-first economy with his brainchild, Confluent, a unique data streaming solution. Our editorial team had an interesting and joyful session with the visionary leader, where he revealed some exciting facts about his journey so far and explained the unmatched tale of the inception with us that we are keen to spill into this fascinating read.
Inc Magazine: You have a very impressive profile; we would love to hear more about your professional journey! Could you give us a brief overview of your career and how you got to where you are today?
Fred: I started my career around 23 years ago, when I took my first job in IT sales at Forrester Research in France, then worked my way up to Global Account Manager.
The experience was incredible. It’s where I learned about the art and science of selling by understanding the analysis surrounding the sales process. There was a true culture of enablement across the organisation, which was a great foundation for building my career.
After eight years, and keen for a new challenge, I joined a fast-growing e-commerce software company in client success. But I quickly realised that my real passion was sales. I didn’t see this as a wrong move, but rather as a defining moment for my career.
So I moved into sales leadership, which brought me to Confluent in 2019 as regional sales director in London and now VP of Emerging Markets, based in Dubai. I’m incredibly competitive, and having the drive to deliver success has been instrumental in getting me where I am today. I also love learning. Mistakes aren’t setbacks; they’re what allow people to develop. Having the drive and looking for the next thing to keep me interested were the two key factors in getting me to where I am now.
Inc Magazine: Please shine some light on Confluent and how it is helping its clients.
Fred: Confluent is an incredibly motivating company to work for, offering innovative technology that is truly transforming how organisations use their data.
Our data streaming platform enables clients to organise and manage data from multiple sources with one incredibly powerful, reliable, and high-performance system. We’ve completely re-architected Kafka for the cloud to be elastically scalable and globally available, providing a seamless, cost-effective, and fully managed service ready to deploy, operate, and scale.
For our customers, our approach to data streaming is transformational, enabling them to see all their data in real-time to streamline their operations, react to situations immediately, and achieve greater scalability. Through Confluent Cloud, our customers are also reducing costs, creating better customer experiences, and benefiting from a highly scalable, resilient, and available platform with enterprise-grade security.
Inc Magazine: Leadership isn’t easy in this kind of dizzying environment. What has your approach been?
Fred: In the current macroeconomic circumstances, it’s really easy to feel like you’re losing control. As a leader, it’s so important to keep your cool, especially when others are feeling pressure.
For me, it’s important to go back to the basics of sales: winning the hearts and minds of individuals. Sales are all about the little moments. I focus on helping my team keep a positive mindset and make those moments happen the right way at the right time.
Enablement coaching can be incredibly powerful, helping people learn while making sure they know it’s ok to make mistakes; everyone is on a learning journey. You can never be the master of something unless you have a good coach, and as a leader, I try to always remember this and use it as motivation in my role.
Perhaps most importantly, I think of my team as my customers. I am here to help them be successful. My team needs to feel I am working for them as much as they are working for me.
Inc Magazine: How do you motivate creativity and innovation while maintaining a healthy work environment?
Fred: It’s very important in an enablement culture to give people the autonomy to do their job and make their own choices while also giving them a purpose.
That’s what Confluent does well. Gives people the autonomy to take initiative, make their own choices, and have freedom in what they do. And this in turn gives people the ability to believe in the company’s purpose and their role in delivering on it.
To me, what Confluent does matters, and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe in that. My team should feel the same in order to be motivated to achieve.
I also think that when leading a team, you need to genuinely care about people. We’re all humans, and it’s vital to be sensitive to people’s personal lives and care about their happiness, not just in a professional environment.
Inc Magazine: What are the key USPs of Confluent? What are your insights about this industry that no one else has?
Fred: The companies that have really made a difference have all disrupted the industry (like Uber and Netflix) without creating the category they’re in or having a typical product. Taking Uber as an example, it has completely revolutionised the transportation industry but doesn’t own a single vehicle.
These companies have all been able to get to where they are through technology. And with technology comes data.
What we’re seeing is that for companies to compete and be lightyears ahead of the competition, they need to know how to use data. And that’s why I joined Confluent. Data is the competitive edge.
At Confluent, we’re at the heart of the data revolution, setting data in motion for our businesses and organisations across the world. By integrating historical and real-time data into a single, central source of truth, we make it easy to build a new category of modern, event-driven applications, gain a universal data pipeline, and unlock powerful new use cases with full scalability, performance, and reliability.
Inc Magazine: What is your vision for Confluent? And what would be the best roadmap to achieve that?
Fred: My vision is for Confluent to become the default standard in the industry. If Confluent can disrupt the notion of data infrastructure, that’s when we know we have realised our vision. The category is growing massively, and we see this within the realms of our success as more companies realise the importance of setting their data in motion.
Inc Magazine: What are you looking to accomplish in the next 5 years, both personally and professionally?
Fred: I constantly revise my goals and objectives because I always want to be better. Personally, I want to be happy and healthy. I want my daughters, who are now 12 and 9 years old and looking towards their future, to be able to do anything they want to do. They should be able to get into the tech industry (or any sector) if they want to without barriers, be confident in being themselves or thinking differently, and not be afraid of making mistakes.
Professionally, if I can continue on this journey of learning and having fun, I will be very happy.
Leave a Reply