Paul Gunning, the general manager at PROXIA Software and Shoplogix Europe, shares how his diverse experience in sports and management in the service industry have shaped his approach to sales and leadership.
Can you describe your unique career path and how you progressed from the Inside Sales department to the general manager role in seven years?
I moved to Canada in 2014. Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to the then-CEO and CFO of Shoplogix through a local soccer team connection. We met at a Tim Horton’s, and four days later, I started at Shoplogix in the Inside Sales department. Working in business development was a rewarding opportunity for me as I drew on skills I had gained in the service industry – customer service and relationship building – to prove myself in technology sales.
When I was getting ready to move back across the Atlantic 18 months later, Shoplogix was able to accommodate that move. We had channel partners with their own business needs that we managed in Europe. It was an underserved market, and I knew I could bring my business development expertise to drive growth and expand our reach within the region. In 2019, after Shoplogix was acquired by Constellation Software Group, I was promoted to the general manager position in Shoplogix Europe. Now, I’m also the general manager at PROXIA, a German-based MES software provider acquired by Shoplogix.
What do you look for when hiring for your team?
My ability to connect with people, manage conflict, rapidly respond and organize chaos comes from my years in the service industry. Managing restaurants has been invaluable to me. If you hand someone in Dublin the wrong pint, they aren’t too pleased, so you have to be at the top of your game when it comes to your attention to detail under pressure. I believe that everyone should work in the service industry at some point early in their career – there is no faster way to learn how to deal with people and put the needs or demands of others ahead of yourself. This background has been a game changer for me as far as I am concerned!
To that end, when I’m looking for someone to join my team, I look for soft skills – enthusiasm, a growth mindset and the ability to adapt your communication style and approach to your audience. I need to be able to teach them about the technology, our structure and our strategies to meet our objectives. To be successful, you need to be an action-oriented person.
What is your leadership style? What can someone expect as part of your team?
My drive and motivation come from playing on sports teams and needing to earn respect as a captain on many teams with players who are older than me. Actions speak louder than words. That’s how I built trusting relationships and helped to grow the business. That’s also exactly how I work with my teams as a leader. I can and I will do the work that I expect from anyone on my team, setting an example and showing them the way.
In my experience, people either have the desire to win or they don’t. On the football pitch, you need to be the most energetic and the loudest voice to rally your team to win. At Shoplogix, it’s a little different. However, it ultimately requires the same planning and group effort. We’re a team and we’re part of our customers’ teams, so how can we add value to ensure a win for all of us?
When I’m evaluating someone, whether it’s hiring them or considering them for growth, I want to know if they’re a person who will follow me, walk alongside me or ideally strive to be at the forefront? I always want the person who is going to strive to achieve the best result possible in whatever they do. Show me how to do things better and faster. Share your knowledge and tactics. That’s how we will all accomplish great things at Shoplogix.