Share PLM Podcast

Episode 5: Making the Change: Raw and Real Tales From a Founding and Growing Share PLM

June 30, 2023 Helena Gutierrez Season 2 Episode 5
Share PLM Podcast
Episode 5: Making the Change: Raw and Real Tales From a Founding and Growing Share PLM
Show Notes Transcript

Come join Share PLM for another podcast episode with the founder and CEO of the company, Helena Gutierrez as she shares her thoughts on the human side of digital transformation. 

Join us every month to listen to fascinating interviews, where we cover a wide array of topics, from actionable tips, to personal experiences, to strategies that you can implement into your PLM strategy.

If you have an interesting story to share and want to join the conversation, contact us and let's chat. We can't wait to hear from you!

[00:00:00.970] - Claire
Welcome to the Share PLM podcast, the show that explores the vast universe of product lifecycle management.


[00:00:07.730] - Claire
In today's episode, I wanted to talk with the CEO and founder of Share PLM, Helena Gutierrez, to learn more about her journey of starting her own company and the lessons she has learned along the way. Helena, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

[00:00:20.560] - Helena

Thank you, Claire. It's a pleasure.

[00:00:22.940] - Claire
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and a little about the company before we dive in?


[00:00:27.450] - Helena
My name is Helena Gutierrez. I'm from Spain, from Bilbao, from the Basque Country, and I've been living outside of Spain since 13 years. First, I moved to Germany after my studies, and then I've also lived in Finland, in Portugal, and now back to Germany. I'm an engineer by profession, but I have always been very interested in art and technology. And five years ago, after working several years in PLM consulting, I decided to start my own company, Share PLM. And you know, Share PLM is a boutique consulting company focusing on change, enabling change for PLM implementations. And we are PLM people. And we saw that most PLM implementations start with technology. And we decided to flip the approach and focus more on on the the people side and then move to the technology and the process. And it's been five years since we started and the company has been evolving nicely and we are still on the mission to connect people with technology.

[00:01:34.590] - Claire
I think it's really impressive what all you've done in the past few years, and I would love to know a little bit more about your history and your journey. How did you get to where you are today?

[00:01:45.570] - Helena
Yes, so when I moved to Germany, at the beginning, there was a big crisis in Spain. I studied aeronautical engineering, and during my studies, I already got in touch with PLM. My dad had a very small construction company and they were using Catia V Five to design construction equipment. And my dad wanted to implement Smart Team back on the days. That's a kind of PLM or PDM platform. And he convinced me to work with him on the summer to implement Smart Team. And that's where I got to know PLM and I saw the power of product lifecycle management and product data management. And I continued working with my dad in my studies. And when I finished university, I directly went into PLM. I went to a consulting company. They were also doing product lifecycle management consulting. And I was so lucky to be part of different big PLM projects for big German companies like Audi, Airbus, Bombardier. And I think it was very inspiring and very good as a young professional to be part of these implementations because I saw how good looks like in these big companies. They had very big product lifecycle management programs, and I was lucky to see the result of that.

[00:03:03.790] - Helena
It was very inspiring. And after some time, I moved to corporate, I started working for a company that was called back in the days Autotech. They were doing mining equipment. And first I started as an implementation manager, and then I got promoted to program director, and I moved to Finland and I got to lead the PLM program there. And five years ago, I decided to start my own company. I always had the dream to start my own company, like my dad had his own company, and I saw the lifestyle he had and being your own boss and being able to have your own team. And it was my dream always to do that. And I thought it was the right moment. We saw a market opportunity there. As I told you before, most companies focus a lot on technology when they implement PLM, and I thought that we could do it differently by starting with people.

[00:03:58.330] - Claire
At what point did you decide to start your solopreneurship journey? How did you know that it was the right moment and what steps did you take to start that?

[00:04:07.870] - Helena

When I was at Autotech, I was part of different groups. I was part of many of these events, of these PLM events, and discussing with several people. And I realized that everyone was having the same problem. And I also saw the power of starting with people, because in my own program at Autotech back in the days, we didn't have a big budget, but we focused a lot of people and enabling the change, and we were able to see big changes. And I really saw the power of focusing on people and putting people first to move things more than maybe investing a lot of money, but then at the end, coming up with a system that no one wants to use. And I remember when I was still working at corporate to create a website on the weekends and think about what I'm going to do on the weekends. And then at some point, I told my boss, back on the Days, Sami Grönstrand, now I'm going to start my own company. At the beginning, I was alone, but that felt very lonely. And I talked to Bea, who was also part of my team at Autotech, and she's my best friend, I know her from university, and I convinced her to join me on this adventure.

[00:05:17.350] - Claire

What would you say were some of your biggest challenges and setbacks when starting the company?


[00:05:23.990] - Helena
That's a very good question. I'm an engineer, I'm not a business person. So I think that's been a challenge, because to lead a company, you need to be a bit of a business person. And that's been a journey for me, and it's still a journey, and I am still not fully a business person, although I try to educate myself there. But I think building the company, building the structure, building a team, and very importantly, having a good offer at the end. The consulting company also has a product and you also need to develop your product or your offering. That's very important. And that's something we don't learn at university when we do engineering. So that's been challenging.


[00:06:06.710] - Claire
I could imagine. And what would you say is the biggest value that Share PLM currently provides to organizations?


[00:06:14.790] - Helena
You know, technology can be intimidating for people, and if you don't get your people on board, then you can invest a lot of money, but you are going nowhere and really change can be messy in big corporations, and we help companies to really lead the change and get people on board so that they can reap on the returns and investment that they were expecting when they started the technology transformation. I think that's the biggest value.

[00:06:41.550] - Claire
And where did the name Share PLM come from? Why did you come up with this name?

[00:06:47.330] - Helena

When we were thinking about the name for the company, we were thinking a lot, how should we call this company? And we were thinking PLM Booster or PLM Driver or many things. But we sat down together and we thought, what is really the key to PLM? And in my experience, the key to a function in PLM is sharing. Sharing information, sharing products, sharing business, selling data. And that's how we came up with the name Share PLM. And I'm very happy with the name. I really love the name Share PLM because I think it goes to the heart of what PLM is about, sharing information across the lifecycle.


[00:07:27.870] - Claire
Yeah, I also love the name. And having worked with you, I can see that you're such a passionate and positive person and you bring this passion and positivity with you, with everything that you're doing. And I just want to know what makes you most excited to get out of the bed in the morning? What parts of your job do you love the most? 

[00:07:45.910] - Helena
Thank you very much for saying that, Claire. It's very nice to hear it. Share PLM is like my third baby, and I like many areas of my job, I love to work with customers. I love to be part of customer projects because product lifecycle management gets you in touch with many departments and many parts of companies and you get to understand business as a whole. And that's something I really, really enjoy. I also love working with the team. We have a very international team and talented team. And that's something I really enjoy, working with people like you who are very creative and they bring in different expertise, which I think make us very rich as company. And then I also love the business side of the company, like looking at how can we improve and how can we get better and how can we develop the company farther? So I think those are the three things that I enjoy most. The customer projects, the team work and the business.

[00:08:50.570] - Claire
And so by spending so much time across various organizations and seeing how they work. How has this influenced your own way of running your company, of running Share PLM?

[00:09:00.180] - Helena
I learn from our customers every day. I get to work with many super talented people and I've taken many ideas and I've learned a lot from our customers. For example, one of our customers has a very good way of leading his team and he uses many tools and techniques that I've been able to implement at Shareplm. For example, at Share PLM we use the OKR methodology, objective key results, and that's something I basically copied from my customer. He also has weekly updates, which I also try to do every week. He sends videos to explain the team, where they are heading to and that's something I've I've learned from this customer. Then I also work with another customer who is great at managing change, really. She's great at moving people and getting people to really believe in the vision. And I'm so grateful that I get to work with these talented people in these big companies, in these different companies and different businesses. It's something I just enjoy a lot.

[00:10:08.610] - Claire

Yeah, I could imagine you're always talking with interesting people. And as the CEO of your company, what are some of the biggest lessons that you've learned?


[00:10:17.830] - Helena
I think the first thing I've learned is that numbers matter. This year, it's been the first year that we have a proper dashboard where we can follow some of the business metrics. And if you need to take decisions, if you don't have numbers, it's very difficult to really act and decide with some background, otherwise you will just use opinions. So I think that numbers matter and it's important to have the numbers as a tool to decide. And the second thing is really communication. It's very important to communicate. And even in a small team at Share PLM, we have somehow 20 people or so, but still it's very important to communicate and we understand things differently. And sometimes it's challenging really to have everyone on the same place because everyone has its own way of seeing things. A huge milestone has been to define our company values and I feel that that's been very important for us. It's helped us to guide our recruitment efforts, to define the types of clients we want to work with, to put expectations to people in the team. So that's been very good. And I think something I would recommend to people starting a company is to have good mentors.

[00:11:29.330] - Helena
We have very good mentors and we invest money in mentors because there are many things that we don't know. And I feel that having people who have done things already who can guide you and everyone is open to share and to guide you. And I think that that's key to improve.

[00:11:47.810] - Claire
So you're in a state of constant learning, basically.


[00:11:51.570] - Helena
Yes. That's also a personal value I have for myself. I love learning and I try to keep curious all the time and I try to keep learning every day at least one new thing. And I think in the type of projects we work with, it's very easy to learn many things every day. So that's quite cool.


[00:12:08.390] - Claire
How do you see the future of Share PLM? What are some of the things that you hope for and are planning to do?


[00:12:15.720] - Helena
We have a big vision for Share PLM. We feel that every organization that's embarking in a PLM transformation needs to manage the change that comes with it. And we envision our company getting bigger. We would like to expand in Europe where our market is at the moment and at some point we would like to go to the US market and even South American market, which is also growing a lot. In terms of the offering, I think what we are thinking about is how can we build a community? We see that we have many people in our community who love to connect with each other and can learn a lot from each other. And we are thinking about how can we really leverage that community? So we are considering building our own educational offering, meaning courses, online courses, but also workshops where people can get together and can discuss topics which other ways they don't have an option to discuss. Then something that's quite exciting that we are thinking about is that people are looking for human connection and authenticity nowadays in days of remote work even more. And we are thinking about building a collaborative space in the south of Spain where we would do design sprints, we would get people together, we would get companies to join us and do team meetings and that's something we are very excited about.


[00:13:42.740] - Helena
It's still an idea level, but it's something that we feel we should invest in in the coming years.

[00:13:51.450] - Claire
It sounds like you have a lot of amazing plans on the horizon. I just wanted to ask you one more question then to wrap up this podcast. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to pursue their own path, as in become an entrepreneur or switch to freelance or start their own company basically not do the traditional route? What would your advice be for them?


[00:14:13.090] - Helena
My first advice is to start with something they know well, because I see it with Share PLM. We are PLM people and we started our business around PLM and I think it made it easier for us to start. So that's the first thing and then really start moving because if you don't act you won't be able to see results. And I see a lot of people talking a lot but not doing anything. And I think nowadays it's all about really doing and getting feedback and then adapting based on the feedback that you get. So really start doing because sometimes you will get to learn more when you start doing things than when you are just planning at home without really doing anything. So that's my advice. And then when it comes to developing the company, I think it's very important to have a structure, to have policies and to think about how can I productize myself so that other people can also do the job that I'm doing? Because I see that many people get trapped there, that they are experts, they know a lot, but they focus also a lot on these expert tasks and artist tasks, which is good.


[00:15:19.050] - Helena
But if you really want to grow your business, you need to be able to let go. And that's not easy, but that's key to grow. And I think the most important thing is to network and build relationships. I think in business and in life, it's all about your network and your relationships and building relationships without having an agenda, just getting to know people, getting in contact with people, establishing relationships, because that very often leads to business at the end. And I love to connect with people. I love to meet people face to face and also online and learn more about what they are doing about their business. And if you want to meet us and connect with us, get in touch and I'd love to have you on the podcast or just have an offline meeting with you.


[00:16:05.570] - Claire
Thanks Helena, so much for doing this podcast with me today. It was really interesting hearing your story and I am always learning more about you and always feeling so inspired by you.


[00:16:14.890] - Helena
Thank you very much, Claire. You are a very good question maker. It was a very nice conversation.


[00:16:23.610] - Claire
Thanks for listening to today's episode of the Share PLM Podcast, where we bring PLM professionals together. Do you have any questions, topic suggestions or know a PLM person who would be a great fit for the podcast? Let us know by visiting podcast.