Meet Michael Hargis: A Fireside Chat With Ontra’s SVP of Revenue Operations

April 25, 2024
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What was your main motivation to join Ontra?

I’ve been in Revenue Operations leadership roles for over 15 years across a variety of different industry verticals, in companies ranging in size from $100 million to over $50 billion. Over that timeframe, I’ve seen many different GTM models, rode market upswings and survived market downturns. What I immediately recognized in Ontra was a company that was executing very well within their total addressable market, and a leadership team that was collaborative, intellectually curious and open to new ideas. I knew that my blend of legal and technology industry experience would suit me well here and that I could add value as we unlock Ontra’s next wave of growth.

How would you define your role as SVP of Rev Ops and how does revenue operations fit into the broader business strategy?

I’m very fortunate that the Ontra leadership team has already built a strong foundation in revenue operations at the company. I’ve worked at companies before that had grown to $100m+ in revenue with no CRM or tools, no sales comp plan, and very little in terms of modern revenue organization principles. At Ontra, there’s a strong team in place leading enablement, business development and traditional revenue operations, and they’ve already done so much by way of defining processes, establishing the tech stack and specializing the teams. I view my role coming in as a coach and a leader, providing guidance to the organization and sharing best practices and recommendations informed by data and many years of experience. As a revenue operator, I care about driving growth and efficiency as we scale the company. As a leader, I’m here to help further develop my team as the next generation of leaders at Ontra.

Can you share a memorable success story or milestone from your career in revenue operations?

One memorable story is how I stumbled upon revenue operations as a function in the first place. I was working in a strategy and internal consulting role for Electronic Data Systems in Plano, TX. EDS was one of the world’s largest IT outsourcers, a really remarkable company founded by Ross Perot that had a huge global footprint. After I had been there a couple of years, we were acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2008 for $13.9 billion which at the time was the largest acquisition in the technology industry. I worked on the integration team, helping to evaluate how we would merge the two go-to-market teams together, working on topics like account ownership and territory design, sales compensation, pricing, how to set up the pipeline stages, etc. Twelve months later, I came out of that project with my first leadership role in sales operations, managing a team of over 30 resources supporting a sales organization of over 300 client-facing resources and 800 sales support professionals. Fifteen years later, I’m still in revenue operations and have enjoyed leading this function across a variety of different industries over the years.

In 2014, I made the leap from leading revenue operations for large enterprises to joining a venture-backed company called Axiom Law and helped to build the revenue operations team from scratch. It was an amazing run over seven years where we grew the company 4x and eventually sold the business to private equity firm Permira in 2019. When I was introduced to Ontra, it reminded me of the early days at Axiom. Really smart people, an amazing product market fit in a defined TAM, and an opportunity to leverage revenue operations as a catalyst for their next phase of growth.

As a former athlete and current youth sports coach, what parallels do you see between sports teams and revenue organizations?

I grew up playing all kinds of sports and have been a youth sports coach for nearly a decade. I joke that if I weren’t leading revenue operations organizations, I’d probably be coaching high school football right now. In sports, all good teams have a core set of players that really set the tone for the organization. They put in the work, they bounce back quickly from losses and they’re willing to learn and be coachable. It’s the same thing with high performing revenue organizations. Those core players can be in sales, CS, enablement or other parts of the business and are force multipliers for a company our size. I’m looking forward to getting to know our team here at Ontra and helping all members of our team reach their full potential and be successful in their individual roles. Revenue Operations as a function is meant to help the company grow faster and more efficiently but at the end of the day, it’s also about helping individuals in the go-to-market organization find success.

From your perspective, what is the biggest opportunity ahead of Ontra that has yet to be unlocked?

I believe we still have plenty of room to run in our current TAM and my job is to work closely with our sales and marketing leaders to determine the best strategies and tactics to help us break into those new prospects or increase our footprint within existing customers. Great companies are built with solid week-to-week execution and my initial focus with the GTM teams will be to dig into our weekly cadence and the operating system we use to evaluate our progress in growing our market share.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I live in Prior Lake, Minnesota with my wife Rochelle, two sons Max (14) and Sam (12) and two dogs, Tally and Gigi. At this stage, our lives are extremely busy with school, sports, band and other extracurricular activities. It’s chaotic at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We love to travel as a family and spend a lot of time outdoors, regardless of the season. For example, we recently enjoyed a spring break trip where we rode ATVs, ran a 5k, fished, hiked and played mini golf.

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