Omaha-based custom software development and technology consulting company, Aviture, Inc., recently welcomed Sara Hanlon as Chief Revenue Officer.
Hanlon joined Aviture’s executive team to help guide strategic company growth and align sales and marketing initiatives.
“I am thrilled to join the Aviture team,” said Hanlon. “This new role will allow me to unite the efforts of an already talented technical team with scalable products and solutions to drive results for our clients.”
Hanlon brings more than 15 years of sales and marketing knowledge to Aviture, including extensive experience in technology product development and project management. While working as a Vice President at Ervin & Smith, Hanlon co-founded and co-owned Blogglebeans, a software technology platform. Hanlon then established Clever Gains, a strategic sales and marketing management consulting company. Her success and experience landed her on the Midland’s Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” list.
“I’d worked with Aviture for a year and I had come from running a company, being a product owner for a software product,” said Hanlon. “That experience was really invaluable and it was something that we wanted to broaden at Aviture from the business side.”
“Sara’s diverse background and proven experience building and selling products across a variety of industries is an asset to Aviture,” said Mark Griffis, President and CEO of Aviture. “We are excited to leverage her unique skills to deliver software product development strategies for our clients now and into the future.”
Maintaining company culture through hiring
Griffis said he looks for an entrepreneurial mindset in all of Aviture’s hires in order to maintain the company’s distinct culture. There is a lot of talk within the company of employees understanding their “why,” knowing what they want to accomplish, knowing what their customers want, and continuing to focus on education and pushing the boundaries of what they can do to accel.
“We try to apply those same [entrepreneurial] values on Aviture’s [internal] side as well,” said Griffis. “That’s why we thought [Sara] was such a good fit––her background and looking at things through a different lens.”
As CRO, Hanlon will be focusing on Aviture’s growth and how the company approaches client relationships and explains their role to those clients.
“We have a good reputation in the community and so we’ve kind of grown organically. We’re at a size now where we want to be more intentional about that growth pattern and how we talk about ourselves,” said Hanlon. “The way we approach projects is different than a lot of software solution organizations, so there’s a lot of education that goes into it when we start working with clients. We want to really articulate that well and get them to understand what we do and how we impact their business.”
Focusing on collaboration with clients
Looking back at Aviture’s past, Hanlon sees the ways the company has fostered collaboration with their technology solutions. Instead of building software solutions and then leaving the client to implement them on their own, Aviture focuses on supporting whatever end result the client needs and navigating them through that partnership.
“It is much more about creating that technology road map and allowing our teams and [the client’s] teams to work together to meet the challenges that exist within that organization,” said Hanlon. “It might be a custom software solution and it might be getting their teams in a place where they’re building their own software. We’re supporting that effort.”
Griffis said that collaborative angle comes from his background working in Austin and Dallas, running venture-backed startups. When he came to Omaha and had the opportunity to start Aviture, he focused on infusing those same types of things here.
“As Sara said, we’re not just working projects, we’re really working on projects that make a difference,” said Griffis. “That’s one of the core values for the projects that we look at and the people that we bring on––making a difference in the lives of our customers.”
Griffis said that aviture doesn’t focus on technology for technology’s sake. Rather, the company makes new technologies the secondary focus of what they do, and makes problem solving their first priority.
“Bringing on Sara was a natural extension of what we were already doing,” said Griffis. “Her background in both running a company and in marketing and understanding software brought a lot of things together that we can start to scale […] and try to make a difference in more people’s lives and push them to raise that bar higher.”
Software developers as entrepreneurs
Griffis believes that encouraging Aviture’s staff to take the next steps and be entrepreneurs is what’s generally missing from the software development environment.
“There aren’t enough founders, people who will take that leap and do something,” said Griffis. “Through The Garage, through Aviture, through all these different means, we want to encourage people to do that because it gets them thinking in a different light. […] You start to think more holistically about a business and the implications of that. I think it creates better engineers at the end of the day.”
Hanlon knows first-hand of the benefits that exist when moving from a founder space into a role within a company like Aviture.
“There are silos that exist all over between technology and business,” said Hanlon. “I think that the uniqueness of who we are and the ‘why’ […] makes it easier to acclimate when you come from a business and now are holding a role within Aviture.”
Supporting women in the tech pipeline
One challenge Hanlon would like to tackle while at Aviture is getting more women involved in founding businesses, engineering, development and STEM.
“We’ve got some really great programs in the community,’ said Hanlon. “All the things that women are doing around the specific Omaha-Lincoln culture to change that is really powerful. I think that is just an evolution that will continue.”
Griffis said that Aviture’s staff is made of roughly 15% women, quite a few of whom are in leadership roles, but they’re still lacking in female developers.
“There’s not enough [women] in the pipeline from a software side,” said Griffis. “We’re involving Girls Inc. and other STEM and outreach programs, […] not just for women’s sake, but for how it diversifies the environment.”
Hanlon added, “We as an organization are also being more thoughtful about our recruitment pipeline […] related to men and women. That is something that is important to us as we continue to grow.”
While she helps Aviture grow, Hanlon also wants to make sure that the company is raising the bar for other companies they work for and with.
“We really want to raise the bar away from people seeing us as a vendor,” said Hanlon. “We are a partner and we’re here to help others be successful and I think that is a unique differentiator for us. We go in to talk to potential new clients that’s what they get excited about.”
Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.