Shadowing Success: Rob Rae

by Emily Matzelle | Jul 03, 2017

Rob Rae at the Datto headquartersRob Rae, Vice President of Business Development, Datto, Inc.

We all have the same 24 hours each day to work with, but some people are more efficient with their time. How do they do it? We chatted with self-described road warrior Rob Rae, vice president of business development at Datto, Inc., to learn how he successfully navigates his role as the face of Datto in the channel. Read on to learn his top tips to help you do it all as well.

Take Control of Your Time

Whether work-related or personal, Rae said it’s essential to block out time in your schedule to get things done. For example, Rae doesn’t book any meetings until 9:30 or 10:00 each morning so he has time to learn what happened around the world overnight.

“I look for chunks of downtime where I can stay on top of my inbox, and mornings tend to look like that,” he said. When he’s travelling, Rae uses airplane time to stay caught up.

And, although he leads a chaotic lifestyle, Rae realizes the importance of downtime. “My downtime doesn’t necessarily come at traditional times, so I have to take advantage of those ‘off times’ to do what I enjoy and build them into my schedule.”

Surround Yourself with Competent People

Rae credits his team with keeping things moving. “I think part of the effectiveness of any leader is surrounding yourself with people who are even better at this stuff than you are. I have a lot of smart people on my team who get on top of things before I even start to worry about them,” he said. He relies on his executive assistant to help him prioritize each day. “She starts before I do and sends me a digest of my day – minute to minute. She helps me flag what’s important, and I’m able to filter down and delegate things to the right people.”

Having a competent team allows Rae to do more. “One comment I hear is that I’m everywhere. The reason I can do that is because I have this phenomenal team who takes care of things in the background.”

Stay Connected with Your Team

Connectivity with team and execution on the plan is critical, Rae said. And, that starts with communication. “My whole team shares a calendar so we all know where we are at any given moment.” Using Slack, the team stays in touch to ensure they’re all on track. That gives Rae a big picture view of what’s happening every day. “I know how many people are in rooms each day and how many prospects we’ll close,” he said.

The team uses a variety of tools in addition to Slack for staying in touch, including Salesforce, text messages and the good old-fashioned phone call. “A lot of times we just need to pick up the phone and work through an issue,” Rae said. Since the team lives on their phones, Rae recommends Mophie phone cases for the extra battery life.

You don’t always have to be the smartest, but if you work hard, you will achieve the results you want.

Know What Works for You

It’s important to understand yourself and how you are most effective. For example, Rae tries to avoid red-eye flights because he knows he won’t be as effective the next day. And, he’s learned to work the schedule that works the best for him.

“My day doesn’t end at 9 p.m. I’m usually planning for the next day. I may be socializing and working rooms. My job is a bit of a PR thing. It’s part of the road warrior – you work the schedule where you will be most effective,” he said.

Rae added that the human touch is especially important as Datto grows. “You have to be out there, be active, make yourself available and truly care about the customers as opposed to routing them to an 800 number. It’s critical to our success in the channel.”

Be Flexible

While there’s something to be said for scheduling your time and sticking to what works best for you, the most successful IT executives continue to be flexible – and Rob Rae is no exception. “I’m very different from a traditional executive,” Rae said. “I can’t go to bed at 9 p.m. when I have 30 to 40 customers in a bar. My job is all about our customers. We get up before our customers and go to bed after them.”

Rae noted that while we’re all creatures of habit, his team doesn’t have that luxury. “Once I was on a plane heading to Dublin for some meetings we had set up, but then an opportunity came up in Boston and I rerouted. We all need to be flexible.”

Work Hard, but Turn Off at Home

Rae said he would take a home-cooked meal over one at a high-end steakhouse any day. In the past month, he was home just two days – and when he’s home, he shuts work right off.

“When I’m home I won’t take calls. When I take vacation, I am off. I’m not answering emails or texts. Everyone understands that personal time is personal time,” he said. He added that his team is very respectful of that time off because they know how hard they all work when they’re on.

Live by a Personal Mantra

Do you want to achieve more than where you are right now? Do you want to grow? Rae believes that putting forth the effort will always yield results. “You don’t always have to be the smartest, but if you work hard, you will achieve the results you want,” he said. But, he realizes it doesn’t always come that easy.

“If you work really hard at something, even though it may seem like it won’t pay off, it will in one way or another. We work hard to not just build our company brand, but also build our own brand. We’re riding this fantastic wave, and I think it will keep going as long as we work as hard as we do.”

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