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Committed to Developing Talent: Q&A with Tony DeSilvester

Portfolio Leader Tony DeSilvester supports software leaders in their talent development journeys

Tony DeSilvester still thinks of himself as a technical person at heart, but he has had quite the career journey since joining Volaris. Before joining Volaris, he was a systems installation technician at AssetWorks, where he had worked since 1998. AssetWorks was subsequently acquired by Volaris in October 2008. Since then, he has had the fortunate opportunity to develop his career within Volaris.

“My roots are in the IT realm, but since joining Volaris, I was brought into the talent management protocol,” he tells Acquired Knowledge magazine. That move allowed him the opportunity to move into sales, professional services, and general management of software businesses. Ultimately, all of this experience led him to his current role as a portfolio leader, where he oversees the management of vertical market software companies and is responsible for the portfolio’s M&A goals.

“My personal journey, through the growth opportunities provided by Volaris, is a true attestation of their commitment to talent development,” DeSilvester says—and he is keen to share those opportunities with talented employees on his team. Read his full interview below.

How has your experience been working for Volaris?

The best way to describe working at Volaris is to visualize what it would be like to work for a company full of humble employees who only want to help each other on a continuous path of learning and sharing best practices. I stress the humble part, because Volaris provides an environment that makes you feel comfortable asking a lot of questions. At Volaris, everyone’s mission is to make each other better... everyone!  

If an employee wants to become a stellar individual contributor or follow a leadership or management path, Volaris has many different talent management tracks that embrace, facilitate, and maximize the employee’s personal development journey.

"At Volaris, everyone’s mission is to make each other better... everyone!" 

-Tony DeSilvester, Portfolio Leader, Volaris Group

What do you look for when you meet software business leaders outside of Volaris?

I love to personally meet business owners, as I love hearing their stories. Often, I find that we share many common traits and experiences. 

When looking for businesses we might acquire, we’re looking for deep domain expertise, with a constant focus on providing solutions to the customer’s ever-evolving landscape. We want to deepen our presence in current verticals, while also expanding into new verticals and geographies.

How do you see your role as a people leader? 

Very simply put, my responsibility as a leader is to create more leaders. I have constant conversations with leaders in our portfolio to help them plan for the same. I am always asking: “How do you plan to cultivate your employees’ talent and produce more leaders within your teams?” We are a growth-oriented organization, and if we are not planning for this growth ahead of time, we will experience a deficiency in talent, which would in turn inhibit our growth objectives. 

Our portfolio strictly employs the spirit of hiring the absolute best available talent and giving them the autonomy to make decisions, with the goal of scalable and sustainable growth. I don’t believe in hiring a particular expert in their respective field and telling them what to do. That defeats the entire purpose of why I hired an expert. They should be telling me what to do.

What are your key priorities when integrating a company that has joined Volaris?

We commit to doing what we said we would do prior to acquisition. We want to create a path forward to assist the newly acquired company in organic growth objectives, such as developing new software solutions for their existing customers, as well as validating entry into new or adjacent markets. All of this is done in a decentralized effort to maintain the company's legacy, brand, culture, and autonomy. 

Our goal is to exceed our investment thesis, create sustainable growth companies and maximize the return to our shareholders. All the aforementioned items are only achieved in you have the talent within your team to execute. 

Part of the due diligence process, as well as the integration plan, is to identify talent and provide a robust talent development and mentoring program around each identified individual. Our integrity is paramount and at the forefront of each acquisition and respective integration. We ensure that we deliver on our pre-acquisition commitments to the sellers, employees, customers, and shareholders each being considered within every action of our integration process.

What’s your advice to early-career software leaders?

Set your plan based on facts, be data-driven, and be ready to pivot. Always let co-workers, managers, and subordinates know that when you commit to something, you will always deliver. This applies to any role you move into.

Care to share any little-known hobbies or interests of yours?

I enjoy building custom high-end PC gaming rigs with my children. Now that they’re older, I get to watch them build the machines from scratch, which tells me they paid close attention and learned throughout the years. I am simply now a "consultant" to them if any issues arise.

When I’m not tinkering with tech or PC gaming, I’m watching the Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Although I’m a Texan now, I was born in Ohio. 

What’s a good conversation starter for anyone who wants to get in touch with you?

I would love to hear from any leaders or potential leaders who want to hear about personal experiences running a business, and how to navigate through the Volaris talent management process.

Equally, I welcome discussions around technology, growing acquired businesses, and managing “A-player” talent.

Learn more about Tony DeSilvester

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