MongoDB’s Cedric Pech
As a teen, Cedric Pech competed in the European Cup for downhill skiing. Then he applied the same ferocious drive to a career in software sales.
This is an excerpt from our “Legends” series, where we profile the top sales and marketing leaders around the world, digging deep into their formative experiences and lived lessons.
When Cedric Pech was five years old and living in the French alpine town of Les Deux Alpes, his father would tell him bedtime stories of a quasi-mythical saint who would fly down snow-covered mountains from the clouds above, delivering to the mortals below such joy that they showered him with treasure.
Even today, over 40 years later, Pech is awestruck when he thinks of Jean-Claude Killy, the legendary French alpine skiing champ who took three gold medals at the 1968 Winter Olympics.
My father spent the first five years of my life talking to me about Killy instead of Santa Claus.
Pech, now 48, would go on to pattern his life somewhat after Killy. In his teens, Pech became a European Cup downhill ski contender. Then he pursued a sales career and managed large multinational teams, just as Killy later managed the winter games for the International Olympic Committee. He has also inspired a younger generation of sales leaders through his own winning example.
Today, Pech is chief revenue officer of enterprise software company MongoDB. In that role, he is responsible for developing and executing the company’s global sales strategy and managing a 1,000-person sales team. During a 25-year career, Pech has led software sales teams—at BladeLogic, BMC, BazaarVoice, and Fuze, the video conferencing platform—that have generated more than $TK billion in revenue and consistently exceeded big growth targets.
Pech’s values, and his approach to building legendary sales organizations, have played a major role in that success. They owe as much from his upbringing—and relentless quest, from age 5, for Olympic glory—as they do to his hero, Killy, with whom Pech started a lifelong pen-pal friendship when he was a kid.
Here are some of his keys to success:
- Pech’s formula for sales success starts with character. “I’m rarely impressed by very intelligent people,” he says. “There’s no shortage of intelligence out there. But we have a shortage of character and drive and courage and integrity. I’m impressed by people where I look at them and I’m like, ‘Dude. My hats off to you. I don’t think I could have dealt with that, and you did.’”
- Over the years, Pech has developed a singular strategy for building a great sales organization in the software business. It starts with creating a sense of purpose. Pech likens it to a famous quote by French children’s book author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
- Empathy has always been important for Pech. But he finds it’s especially needed today. Many of his sales leaders can’t get into their offices because of local lockdown rules due to the global pandemic and are stuck at home, isolated and worrying. Pech manages by over-communicating, picking up the phone and simply asking, “How are you doing, what’s going on?” He makes four of those calls every afternoon. While it’s a big time commitment, he says, “sometimes I can ask just one question and then listen for 30 minutes. And when I can walk away from that call feeling like I propped somebody up, that’s an amazing thing to me.
Read our full profile of Cedric Pech, including more of his leadership lessons and how he draws motivation from his early athletic exploits.