Andrew Rosen | Crain's Washington D.C.

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Andrew Rosen

Background:  

Interfolio is an education technology company based in Washington, D.C., that helps colleges and universities manage faculty careers from hiring through tenure, offering transparency and insight into faculty decisions and data to help achieve strategic initiatives. Interfolio's offerings include a consumer product that provides faculty members with portable dossiers and shared governance support software that helps in the hiring, review and tenure process.

The Mistake:

Managing a successful division or a business unit or a company is about people who have experience, drive, grit, pace and accountability. It's not necessarily about pace. And I'll give you an example.

[As president of international business at Blackboard Inc., an education technology company I co-founded], I had a group of about 40 people reporting in to me. I was trying to move partnerships or international markets or business development relationships forward. And having historically been a lawyer, I would try to tell people on my team—account managers or business development representatives—here's what we're doing, here's what we need to do. Please go and move this partnership forward.

And they would come back with 35 questions, and they would try to put together a term sheet, and at a certain point, I would just say, "Get out of my way. I'll do this. If I have to spend this amount of time to do it for you, then just get out of my way."

And I think I sort of evolved as potentially the company mean guy. 

It's about surrounding yourself with great people and managing through people.

The Lesson:

At the end of the day, it's really about people. Learning how to let go and manage through people, not necessarily doing their job for them.

I think about the team that I've assembled at Interfolio, with our CFO, our head of product strategy, our head of marketing, our head of engineering, our head of client success. Each one of these people has an amazing mindset, giving me the ability to be able to manage through people.

I wish I'd learned faster that it's about surrounding yourself with great people and managing through people and setting a vision, removing the impediments for them, providing constructive feedback consistently, and holding them accountable, and then recognizing their and their team's successes.

Follow Interfolio on Twitter at @Interfolio.

Photo courtesy of Interfolio.