Meet Our President: Derek Sidebottom

By Shelley Osborne

We’ve already introduced you to one of our two founders. Today, we’re profiling our President and co-founder, Derek Sidebottom.

Derek hails from “The Great White North”, growing up on a farm west of Toronto, Canada. He began his foray into the world of HR with a degree in psychology. In a classic “Dead Poets Society” moment, one of Derek’s professors steered him towards a career that spoke to his passions: business, people and analytics. This passion for his work has surely translated into an impressive career trajectory, landing Derek as one of the most sought after and visionary HR leaders in the business.

Derek is our Obi-Wan, the big thinker at Farside, the voice of wisdom and the team builder. It’s telling that his entire team speaks of his ability to bring out their best work, and see their true potential.

Derek using his Jedi mind tricks on us again.

Learn more about Derek in our Q & A:

Nickname: Obi-wan.

Why are you so passionate about changing the face of HR?

I’ve had a lot of experience in the tech industry and with fast growth startups, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a few big success stories. When it comes to HR software solutions, I’ve tried the “build my own” toolset, I’ve tried “off the shelf” products, I’ve done both approaches. Not once have I been really happy with the HR systems that are out there for this ecosystem. Part of the ongoing evolution of any profession comes with improved tools so that we can do our jobs better. In this hyper growth startup environment HR doesn’t get big budgets and unlimited resources. My job as the CHRO is to help these startup and small organizations be better, faster and stronger. That’s difficult to do with solutions built for larger enterprises that employ fragmented and piecemeal design. So, at this point I’m frustrated enough that I’ve decided to go build it myself.

What is so different about Farside from all the other tools?

A lot of solutions do a fantastic job of one HR function. We are going to do a better job of providing a larger software toolset, catered to the startup market. If we stick with the tool metaphor, how often do you ever need anything beyond a classic black and decker tool set? Rarely. But you need that whole set to get the whole job done. And I want that set to work better together. Wouldn’t it be great if I could use the same battery with each of my tools?

Biggest pain point?

From my perspective, it’s a time issue. To get everything I need, I have to contend with multiple solutions, multiple salespeople, and multiple contracts. I lose so much valuable time negotiating contracts and evaluating solutions. Speed really matters in fast growth innovative startups. We don’t have six months to figure this out, we need it yesterday.

Typical workday?

First, I have a kickass team. The group we’ve assembled are people we have known or admired for some time. Through some strange series of coincidences and circumstances they were all available. I spend most of my time translating my background and experience in the startup world into product specs and representing the voice of our customer. While at the same time still working with customers directly.

Favorite Quote?

“Anyone can copy your business model, it’s harder to copy the people who know how to do it well.”

Who was your best manager?

Now that I am myself a mentor to a lot of people, I have a better appreciation for the strong mentors and leaders I have had over the years. I could go through the list and name their attributes. If I could go back in time and tell myself something it would be to spend a lot of time picking your boss. I just got lucky.

What I’ve learned (about work):

I’ve really learned how to ask better questions and be a better listener.

Favorite place to visit?

Vegas! It’s so fun.

If you could live anywhere in the world?

Costa Rica.

Guilty Pleasures?

Chicken Wings. Turtle Jacks in Toronto has the best in the world.

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