Yvonne Wassenaar (Puppet): The Unconventional Path To CEO

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This is a podcast episode titled, Yvonne Wassenaar (Puppet): The Unconventional Path To CEO . The summary for this episode is: <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Puppet CEO, Yvonne Wassenaar, credits three fundamental attributes for becoming a CEO: curiosity, connection, and agility. Whether it’s her path from CIO to CEO, how Puppet has evolved its go-to-market strategy, or why it’s so important to have professional role models, Yvonne has a story for it and is sharing it today. And, don’t miss the advice she gives founders looking to use open source as part of their business.&nbsp;</span></p>
Anne's path to CEO
03:41 MIN
How software buying has changed since Yvonne was CIO
03:05 MIN
Commercial versus open-source investments
02:49 MIN
Puppet's go-to-market strategy
00:50 MIN
Using open source as part of your business
01:32 MIN
How to quantify your customer's experience
01:03 MIN
Why it's so important to align your personal and professional values
01:53 MIN
What the software industry can be doing to improve diversity and inclusion
02:30 MIN
Bringing more voices to the software industry
01:19 MIN
Advice for the next generation of enterprise software CEOs
01:37 MIN
How to build for the future, while living in the present
02:10 MIN
Driving the next 10 years of growth for SaaS businesses
01:42 MIN
The future of technology
01:22 MIN
Reinforcing your overarching purpose
00:55 MIN
Yvonne's female role model
00:28 MIN
Yvonne's first job
00:15 MIN
Yvonne's pick for actress who would play her
00:23 MIN
Yvonne's most important quality in a leader
00:10 MIN

Casey Renner: Welcome to the OV BUILD podcast, Building to Boss. I'm Casey Renner, VP of executive networks here at OpenView. This month, we're releasing a special mini series with female leaders in the enterprise SaaS industry who know the path to leadership is challenging, but aren't willing to let that stop them from building something great. Today we hear from Yvonne Wassenaar, CEO of Puppet. Yvonne began her career in consulting before making the switch to software. She's been in the office of the CXO, CIO, and now she's CEO of Puppet. Two- thirds of the Fortune 1, 000 use Puppet's open source and commercial solutions to achieve situational awareness and drive software change. She also serves on the board of directors at Harvey Mudd college, Forester, and Anaplan. In today's episode, we unpack why Yvonne fundamentally believes in open source, how software buying and usage has changed, and advice she shares with the next generation of software CEOs. All of that and more in this episode of the BUILD miniseries, Building to Boss. Let's dive in with Yvonne Wassenaar. All right, Yvonne. Thank you so much for joining us on the OV BUILD podcast. Excited to talk all things, CEO, CIO, open source, and how the heck you balance at all. I think that's what I'm most interested in learning is how you do it all, and are a rock star while doing it. So to start with, I'd love to just know about... I don't know if you think you're a rock star. But I know you're a rock star.

Yvonne Wassenaar: You're very kind. Very kind.

Casey Renner: That's why I like you so much. All right, Tell us about your role currently as CEO of Puppet and how you got there.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Absolutely. This is one of my favorite stories, not because I think I'm a rock star, but because I think it's important to dispel a lot of the beliefs that people who get to the top have some master plan, and it's all perfectly planned out. And there are absolutely people who fit that mold. But if you're listening to this and you don't fit that mold, don't give up because that certainly wasn't my journey. And from a job standpoint, you can check out my LinkedIn and see where I've been. I thought what would be helpful is to maybe share, one, that it's been a very curvy path. I've done everything from be a software engineer to a strategy consultant focused on go to market, to an operating executive running educations and centers of excellence to a CIO, to a COO, and now a CEO and a board member. And what has propelled me in my career, I think are a couple of fundamental attributes. One is I have an intense curiosity and I tend to be a very agile learner. And what that means is I'm very open to feedback because I'm in an incredibly competitive race against myself, and I just want to keep getting better and better, and I get bored easily. So curiosity and learning has been key. I've always focused on the broader value proposition versus the short- term rewards. So I got told at one point in my career," Well, if you really want to get to senior vice- president the fastest do X, but if you really want to go off and have greater level of impact running a company, or something like that, you really should do Y." And I think it's really important to think about what motivates you, what gets you out of bed today? But also what do you want to be doing, two, three, five, 10 years down the road. And I've always optimized for the bigger picture vision of what I can do and impact in life. And the final thing, Casey, you're a master of this, is in my network. I didn't start doing that till I was in my late 30s. And if there was one piece of advice I could give to my earlier self, it'd be doing that sooner. Because it's not something that you do after work. Networking is something that you should be doing as part of your job. It helps you bring in new talent, learn new things, strike great partnerships. And at the end of the day, it's fun if you have the right mindset about it. So that's kind of how I've gotten to where I am. I'd say the biggest learnings on the path have been risks aren't risky. I remember I was really scared to leave Accenture and go to VMware. And my executive coach is like," What are you so worried about?" And I'm like," I don't know. I've been at Accenture for 17 years, and it's just seems so different." And she said," Okay, well, great. What if you do it, and it doesn't work out? Is Accenture not going to take you back?" And I was like," Hmm, I suppose they would." To this day, they'd still take me back. So risks aren't as risky as they seem. And then the other big thing that I've learned, and I know I've leveraged this with you a ton, Casey, is asking for help is a sign of strength. And getting over this insecurity of vulnerability if I don't know the answer to everything. Now you have to learn from it. If you ask for help on the same thing many times, we're going to say you're not so bright. But I reinforce with my team and the company all the time, the smart people ask for help. That helps you get down the field faster. And that's super important.

Casey Renner: So how, and you had just alluded to this, we spent some time as a CIO, and we've talked about this before too, but how has software buying changed since you were a CIO? And I mean, even in the past year, I feel like the way that people bought software has changed. But from your perspective, what have you seen?

Yvonne Wassenaar: There's a lot of big shifts happening from a technology and a business perspective and a world perspective that are really important to understand and play out, to understand how software buying and software usage has changed. I think one is what technology is used for is different. It used to be supporting your back office functions, and it's increasingly becoming your business, and quite frankly, during the pandemic, your life. The second is the cloud and the internet have really created a fundamental shift in terms of what you can do, how costly or not it is, and how you access it. And this is really, really important because part of why CIOs we're able to do top- down purchasing, and quite frankly had to do top- down purchasing in the past, is these solutions were so big and so expensive, and they took so long to put in place, they needed to have an executive. The CIO role came around in the 1980s for that very reason. And so what's interesting now is I think you have to appreciate that technology is as much kind of bottoms up as it is tops down. Meaning the practitioners and the users of it have to want to use it and like it. But then what you find is if you want that technology to really be transformational, you also need to have that top down sponsorship. And what I think you'll find over time is that what CEOs are thinking about is that distinguishing line between what are going to be the foundational platforms, and what's the ecosystem that they're using to architect kind of the frame of where the company needs to go and how to do it. But they're not necessarily going to be managing the individual little tools here and there all the time beyond kind of a compliance and a cybersecurity standpoint. The other thing that they're starting to look for is talent accessibility and scalability. And what I mean by that is we've seen this whole rise in the low code, no code movement. You see a lot of appreciation that if software really is going to run the world around us, in some regards, everybody needs to be an application developer. And it's not actually going to play out that way. So just like the Office Suite with Word and Excel have been able to replace pen and paper and the calculator, I think what you'll see is some of these low code no code platforms making technology more accessible. So as a CIO, you're thinking about all these different elements. Sometimes you're an influencer. Sometimes you're a driver. Sometimes you're receiving the thing that kind of blew up on somebody else. But the process of what you think about, what your values are in making purchase decisions, and then how it actually plays out has definitely shifted and will only do more so over time.

Casey Renner: Yeah. Continue to shift. You it replaced pen and paper as I'm sitting here with my pen and paper.

Yvonne Wassenaar: No comments. No comments.

Casey Renner: My pink post- its. I, for Christmas, got 500 new pink post- it notes, because that's just where I keep track of everything, is post- it.

Yvonne Wassenaar: I have an app that can help you out, Casey. Don't worry.

Casey Renner: Perfect. Send it my way.

Yvonne Wassenaar: I do work in tech.

Casey Renner: This is why I have a network of people in tech. You guys can keep me in line. All right. On the open source, but how do you prioritize commercial versus open source investments?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Open source deserves tremendous credit for the technological advancement that we have. I think it's foundational to democratizing technology, making technology easier for people to participate in from a development standpoint, allowing us to benefit from that technology more quickly, more rapidly. And I just had the debate earlier with somebody is open source safer or not. And I fundamentally believe open source is safer if you have the right policies and practices in place. And so to me, I think open source is critically important for us to leverage, think about, contribute to, nurture. But it is not a business model if you're a company. And so you do have to think about how do you balance the benefits of open source with commercial offerings. And as you know, Casey, Puppet started off with an amazing open source project that's wildly used around the globe today called, conveniently, Puppet Open Source. We also have an open source project called Bolt. We had one called Lyra that we contributed upstream to Tekton. So we're big players in this space. But what I had to really figure out as a CEO was how do you create a long- term scalable monetizeable model that enables you to benefit and contribute and give back instead of going out of business. And I think for us, and there's many different ways of doing it, but for us at Puppet, what we've done is really look at how do you make the base accessible, relevant, and valuable to all. And what I mean by the base is that the practitioner at kind of the SMB level, how do you do model driven automation, task driven automation, make content available to run through those tools? But what we focused on is the Global 5, 000. And for many of those companies, they do want the production support, but they also have different problems to solve. So we use a blend of different open source technologies, combined with proprietary technology to do things like provide impact analysis and CI/ CD pipelines within our commercial Puppet offering itself. We've recently released an offering called Puppet Comply. Those are business problems, compliance, massive scale and so forth that are relevant to the Global 5, 000, that more than willing to pay you for, to really help create a healthy ecosystem. So that's how we've done it. We've done the dividing line at what are the problems that the global 5, 000 and large governments are willing to pay for to have solved. And we use that blend of open source, both our own and others, along with proprietary software to go do that.

Casey Renner: Continuing on the open source front, how has open source evolved Puppets go to market strategy? It's always kind of been open source, but how has that played into go to market?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Well, there's a couple things that we look at. I mean, one is open source and our open source users are some of our most active and helpful folks who engage and bring us into opportunities where some of our commercial offerings make sense. And the second is by having a clear perspective on which segment we're looking to really focus our commercial efforts on versus more broadly where we're investing in open source, it's given us real clarity, both on where we want our fields and our commercial marketing efforts to focus as well as it's informed our product roadmap. So I think for us having great clarity on what our open source strategy is has made it a lot easier to really grow and scale the company.

Casey Renner: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to use open source as part of their business?

Yvonne Wassenaar: I think using open source is super smart in terms of how you advance the technology and what you're building. If you are a consumer of open source, I highly recommend you invest heavily in dev sec ops tools and other ways to ensure that the open source that you're using is safe and secure and is up to date. I think a lot of people leverage open source and they think it's just free. And it's technology like any other technology you have to update it. You have to take care of it. You have to nurture it. You have to scan it for vulnerabilities. You have to remediate it. All of those things are super important. If you want to go beyond consuming open source technology and actually build open source technology as part of your business model, I think it's a great thing to do. But words matter. Build it as part of your business model. Open source is not a business model in and of itself. You have to find ways to do it. And there's some interesting ways. I mean, there's the approach that we've taken, whereas open sources for the broad segment and the commercial products are for a small subsegment of the market. There are folks who still use the Red Hat model, which puts services and support on top of everything being open source. I think that's a tough one unless you're Red Hat, but some are going that route. Some are doing open source as SaaS, or as a service. So you can look at like a data brick. So I think there's different models being tried. I'm a big fan of ours, but I suppose I have to be because I'm the CEO.

Casey Renner: Slightly biased.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Slightly. Just slightly.

Casey Renner: Slightly. All right. We're going to take an open- source break and come back to it in a little bit. Just like an open source podcast here. How do you measure sort of transitioning out of that? Just kind of holistically as a leader, how do you measure and quantify your customer's experience?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Yeah. Just when you wanted to get away from open source.

Casey Renner: Oh sure. Yeah.

Yvonne Wassenaar: And I bring up the open source comment because I think it's really important having started back in the mid 2000s, the company was founded in 2009, but Luke actually started the open source project earlier than that, initially customer experience was determined by how engaged the community was, the number of commits, how well events were attended. And what's been interesting as the company's grown and scaled over time, both in terms of size, but also problem sets it's solving and who it's solving them for, you see the focus of the customer experience, not change, but extend. So we still care about all those things I just mentioned, but it extends into kind of organizational elements of customer experience. And that's where you look at NPS, and support tickets, and renewal rates, and expansion rates, but they're also very tied to the product. And we're just now, from our standpoint, hitting that next point in maturity where we have a much broader view of the customer experience. Which is everything from, how do they learn about us, become educated, purchase, leverage the technology, expand, get support, what is that holistic journey? And that's where I think a lot of what you've driven in the marketplace, Casey, with product led growth and kind of that product engagement into all those cycles starts to really become interesting. So we're just now really starting kind of to be at the tip of the iceberg of that on how do we think about that broader customer value proposition and much more robust customer scoring, again, both at that practitioner and at the organization level.

Casey Renner: Yep. Great. How does Puppet's core values align with your personal values?

Yvonne Wassenaar: I am a huge believer in purpose. And I feel that everybody should have the opportunity to do things that they find meaningful and important in their life. And for me, when I was making the decision as to whether I was going to take this job at Puppet, I did deeply look at a couple of things. One was what business was Puppet in? Was it a business that resonated with me and I thought mattered? And I absolutely think what Puppet is doing is strategically important to the health and wellbeing of so many people around the globe. And that's because software's getting everywhere. And as we learned from the recent Slack and Google and other outages, if technology can't scale reliably, that becomes a huge disruption in our life. Puppet can help keep technology more secure. And so when you look at SolarWinds, or even back to Equifax and other things, we're not a security company, but we can help you return environments to known good states. We can help you remediate vulnerabilities. So to me, what the company does really mattered. How it does it, Puppet has a huge focus on diversity and inclusion and being engaged in the communities that it works and lives in. And to me that's really important and I have a personal objective of demonstrating that there's a different way of leading and engaging from a business standpoint and much more around the elements of conscious capitalism. And being able to drive a successful company, not just measured by the return to the investors, but more broadly to all the different stakeholder groups, including the communities we live in and including climate and all those other things. So to me, those things were really important in terms of what Puppet did, but also how it did it, and how that aligned with what I personally care about.

Casey Renner: Good. And you just mentioned this, but big focus on diversity and inclusion, which leads me to my next question of what do you think the software industry can be doing to improve the ratio of male to female? I mean, it certainly has gotten better in the past few years, but not nearly where it needs to be. What can we be doing more of?

Yvonne Wassenaar: It's critically important the software industry do more in the tech industry more broadly, do more to get more diversity. Certainly gender diversity, but I'd really argue for all types of diversity. And the reason for that is we need a higher level of social consciousness around the leadership tables and building out this technology. Because fundamentally technology is going to be in all aspects of our life. And there's a lot of really hard decisions to be made on what's appropriate, what's not? How does AI work? What does it do? What does it not do? How do we know? How do we track it? So I think diversity is important, not just from a talent and giving people full access to different types of careers, but I think there's a higher level need to get that diversity now. How do you get there? I would say it's not that women can't do the work. If you go back to the 80s, there were as many computer science graduates who were female as were male. I believe it really comes down to, are there role models? Is there access, is their purpose in what the work is to be done? And I would say from an industry standpoint, we need to be actively and aggressively diversifying the top levels of leadership. At the board level, the C level, the senior executive level. I think you can pull from other industries. You don't have to be a coder to run and lead and drive in tech these days. So I think we need to open our thinking in terms of where we pull that talent in from. And I think the need to invest more and recognize that some of these avenues like coding schools, we leverage folks from coding schools all the time. They're brilliant team members. Technology is not such that every single person who practices in the field needs to have been coding from the age that they were two. There's so many different jobs, so many different ways to engage. And even the technology itself, with all the advancements, it's so much more accessible that we just need to crack down on this idea that technology and software is a certain type of thing for a certain type of person. We need to think out of the box and really start kind of tops down, bottoms up and from the sides in, and do it quickly.

Casey Renner: Yep. All right. We're back to open source. Told you it'd come back around. And sort of tied into the previous question, but what role does open source play, in your opinion, in bringing more voices and backgrounds to the software industry?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Yeah, I mentioned this a little bit earlier. And Casey, I know you and I have talked about this in the past, open source is a way to democratize the access and benefit of technology. And what I mean by that, and GitHub had some great stats I saw at one of the open source summits, open source projects get engagement from contributors all around the globe. Because you don't have to get that hard to get job in a certain company or something else. It's just much more accessible. Nobody's judging you on how you look, or how much money you have, or where did you get your education? If you can bring value to the projects, you will thrive. And so I do think that the dynamic of open source, how distributed it is is super important, how it's reached around the globe. There's a tremendous amount of open source being done in places like India, other places in Asia. And when you do the demographics, what you're finding it's people of all different backgrounds, education levels, ages, of income. And so I think it's powerful, both what you can do to contribute, but also to benefit from. And that's again, where I think you can put a lot of those pieces together and really drive forward new value in interesting ways as well.

Casey Renner: What advice do you have for the next generation of enterprise software CEOs?

Yvonne Wassenaar: I think it's really important for leaders who want to play a meaningful role in technology, and specifically in software going forward, to think through a few things. One is what is the true purpose of what they're building towards the betterment of society. So really taking that much more conscious purpose- driven approach to why the software matters. I think to deliver against that, the winning companies in the future are going to have very diverse teams. And I think that's because you get the best thinking and the best access to talent if you have that open mind. And technology is advancing so quickly, you're going to need it. You're going to need all the advantages that you can get to really think through how things move forward. And the final thing I'd say is it's super important to have an ecosystem mindset. It's increasingly going to be important that people are thinking through how open, how API driven, how do the different pieces come together to holistically drive value? And so having that purpose, having that diversity of team and support, and really thinking about the broader ecosystem and how the different levers play out with a growth mindset, I don't think software, I don't think any business should be about how do I kill somebody else? I should be good enough that I should be able to create incremental value to drive even greater benefit in the world around us.

Casey Renner: Got it. Kind of looking forward. How do you approach building for the future when we're here in the present? But looking out five years. It kind of ties into my next couple of questions.

Yvonne Wassenaar: When I think about that question, I kind of chuckled because there's that famous quote, which says," The future is already with us." And I really believe that to be true. I mean, particularly where in the segment that we serve, I mean, we serve large enterprise and governments. And many of my customers, probably more than I'd like to admit, are still using IBM mainframes. Now that also doesn't preclude them from using Kubernetes and cloud and cloud native. But for me, I think there's, even within a given customer, there's a whole breadth of different eras present. But I think the most important way that I stay relevant in terms of where the world is going is I turned to the youth. I have teenage kids myself. I sit on the board of Harvey Mudd, which is one of the leading STEM colleges. But understanding what are they looking at? How do they like to engage? How do their minds work? What do they value? I think that's really important because they're the leading spirit to where things are going to go. I think spending time in the venture space and with the entrepreneurs. Who are the risk takers, how are they thinking differently? And the final thing is I like to do an exercise where I free myself of all the constraints of this burdensome world we live in sometimes, and start to really imagine if I didn't have all these things holding us back, what could be possible. And that's where I'd say, if you think about technologies like the internet, we used to think the internet was just a great way to do e- commerce. And look at what you can do with it now. And so I think it's important to look at many different angles and areas to think about where we're going. But then also think about how do you bridge from where we are today to that? Because the hard part isn't necessarily envisioning the future, the hard part is figuring out what the best path is to get from where you are today to that place.

Casey Renner: Yeah. I feel like I have to insert Robert Frost. The paths, which one do you choose? Which path are you going to go down? Bring me back to my sixth grade English class. All right.

Yvonne Wassenaar: That's what I'm here for.

Casey Renner: Perfect. I know. Like I said, you just keep me on my toes. What behaviors do you consider to be fundamental to drive growth for SaaS businesses in the next five to 10 years?

Yvonne Wassenaar: SaaS to me is super interesting. And I believe we're just on the cusp of understanding what is possible and the true power of it. And I say that in the light of, if I go back to the internet example, it took us several decades to figure out the true power of the internet. If you look at cloud, public cloud, increasingly private clouds, but if you look at public clouds, it's gone from a lift and shift to new ways and new abilities to do machine learning and AI, of computational capabilities that were unimaginable a handful of years ago. If you look at the mobile phone. And when it first came about, we thought, oh, you just make a phone call with it. And now it's you don't even call on it. You just use the apps. So to me, SaaS is just now starting to become interesting. And I'm saying that because, initially SaaS was, okay, I'm going to run my CRM out of your cloud instead of out of my data center. And now what we're starting to see is how you can leverage SaaS to create different levels of engagement to better understand your customers and their usage to enable them to purchase and access and drive different value within their own business. So I think there's a lot of great opportunity. And again, I'd look to the new SaaS startups and the new trends in product line growth, and the new trends around some of these things like data clouds and all of that to really see what might be possible at scale over the next five to 10 years. And I think it's super exciting.

Casey Renner: What are your priorities for the next, I mean, one to 10 years? And what do you predict for the future of, not just SaaS, but technology as a whole?

Yvonne Wassenaar: I love the fact that you're asking me that question because as somebody who's further on in my career, some people write me off.

Casey Renner: I would never do that.

Yvonne Wassenaar: And I inaudible. I think about this a lot because I've had the opportunity to decide, when do I want to ride off into the sunset? And I'm not going to do that for a really long time to come. But I'd say my number one priority is being a good mother and helping get my kids through their last final years off to college, and hopefully into careers that they enjoy and love. So that's priority number one. Priority number two really gets to some of the questions you asked earlier around diversity and inclusion, and what's important from a technology standpoint. I have large ambitions in terms of how we move the needle in positive directions on those topics because I think they are foundational to creating a better world for my children and the next set of generations to inherit and then build upon. And my final one is really to make our mark in the industry from the infrastructure, automation, security, and compliance standpoint. I think, squirrel, people like looking at the shiny new toy. They like looking at the applications, but as somebody who's worked in infrastructure automation for a couple of decades, I think it's increasingly important for us to understand, nurture, and maintain, and scale out and innovate the enabling foundational layers of that. And so I have high ambitions for what we'll do at Puppet and beyond.

Casey Renner: That's awesome. How do you balance everything? Being a mom, being a CEO, being on boards, and you're still standing. And I can barely take care of myself half the time.

Yvonne Wassenaar: I'd like to say I did a lot of juggling as a little kid, throwing oranges up into the air. Which is actually true, but I'm not a very good juggler. What I've come to really figure out that works well for me is two things. One is having intense purpose. It gives you tremendous clarity and energy. It's like being really intentional around what you do in every aspect of your life. The second is with that, drawing the red thread. So if I look at what I'm doing and how I'm doing it, it all interrelates, including my kids. I have two girls and a boy who are all teenagers now. And we talk a lot about why do I do this job? And I do it because I want to make a difference in the world. I do it because I want to be a good role model for them. Boards I sit on are in the spaces that I think matter, that help make me a better CEO, and allow me to contribute back to those companies in terms of where they're going. Same thing with the work at Harvey Mudd. So everything that I do is very interconnected, and it all is reinforcing to that overarching purpose. That gets me excited to get out of bed every day.

Casey Renner: And coffee and wine on the back end?

Yvonne Wassenaar: It was both play and function as well.

Casey Renner: crosstalk.

Yvonne Wassenaar: How I know what time it is when I'm traveling around the globe. If I'm drinking coffee, it's morning, and if I'm drinking wine, it's evening. That's all I need to know.

Casey Renner: Or if you're having a bad day, it's afternoon, I might be drinking wine. All right. Rapid fire questions. So these are a little lighter. But who is your female role model, and why?

Yvonne Wassenaar: I'm going to give a shout out to Jen Tejada over at PagerDuty. I've gotten to know her over the last five, 10 years. And I just think she's done an incredible job making impact in those areas that I care about in terms of driving forward. Amazing tech company, breaking a lot of stereotypes, really proving out diversity and inclusion builds a better company, and is just a great human being, and a mother as well.

Casey Renner: Yeah. And certainly has surrounded herself, to your point, with some great women on the leadership team as well, too. What was your first job?

Yvonne Wassenaar: My first job was house cleaning and cleaning real estate offices when I was, I want to say, 13 years old because I wasn't old enough to legally work. My first legal job was Sizzler Steak, Seafood, Salad.

Casey Renner: Oh, that's awesome.

Yvonne Wassenaar: I can still recite the menu.

Casey Renner: I bet you can. What was your favorite thing on the menu? Did you have a favorite?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Two things. One that butter cheese toast, which is deadly, and then the other is they had that amazing chocolate cake.

Casey Renner: Okay. Those both sound right up my alley. Awesome. If there was a Puppet movie, or just the movie of your life, what actress would play you or would you want to play you?

Yvonne Wassenaar: Well, I was going to say, I'm going to turn it around a little bit. If I were in a movie as somebody who leads Puppet, I would want to be a Yoda. Just watch the Mandalorian, like, I want to be Yoda. I want to be wise.

Casey Renner: Wise.

Yvonne Wassenaar: I want-

Casey Renner: Live forever.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Eat forever.

Casey Renner: crosstalk.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Have everybody think I'm cute even though I might look a little funny.

Casey Renner: Yeah. Short legs. Want to pick me up and hold me and take me around. That is great. I don't think the times I've asked this question that anyone has ever said Yoda. And yes, as a huge Star Wars fan, I respect that. Okay. These two kind of tie together, but still one. But in your opinion, what's the most important quality in a leader/ how would you describe yourself as leader? If there was sort of one word.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Most important in what I hold deeply true is integrity.

Casey Renner: Okay. I love that. And then what is one thing you can't live without? You're leaving the house and you can only grab one thing.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Oh, well, that would change a little bit. I'd say the one thing I can't live without is my kids. The one thing I can't leave the house without is probably my phone.

Casey Renner: Yeah. That makes sense. I think that's everyone's answer these days. It's like, what can't you leave with though? So definitely my phone. You can bring all the kids too. You can bring all three of them. Awesome.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Just because they're so important to me, it doesn't mean I want to bring them everywhere.

Casey Renner: That's true. I like us to have our separate inaudible, especially now that they're teenagers.

Yvonne Wassenaar: The phone provides the needed connection.

Casey Renner: Exactly. Exactly. Well Yvonne, thank you so much for joining me to talk. I mean, all things open source and balance and everything in between. So thank you so much.

Yvonne Wassenaar: Absolutely. My pleasure. I will always come and laugh with you, and philosophize around the greatness in the world ahead.

Casey Renner: Thanks for listening to this episode of the OV BUILD podcast, Building to Boss. We hope you learned as much as we did. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to stay up to date with all the new episodes. If you're looking for more open view content, follow me, Casey Renner, on LinkedIn. See you next time here on OV BUILD.


Puppet CEO, Yvonne Wassenaar, credits three fundamental attributes for becoming a CEO: curiosity, connection, and agility. Whether it’s her path from CIO to CEO, how Puppet has evolved its go-to-market strategy, or why it’s so important to have professional role models, Yvonne has a story for it and is sharing it today. And, don’t miss the advice she gives founders looking to use open source as part of their business.

Key Takeaways:

[1:45] Yvonne talks about her role as a CEO at Puppet and how she got there. 

[5:46] How has software buying changed since Yvonne was a CIO? 

[9:20] How does Yvonne prioritize commercial versus open source investments?

[12:11] How has open source evolved Puppet's go-to-market strategy? 

[13:10] Yvonne gives advice for entrepreneurs looking to use open source as part of their business.

[14:57] As a leader, how does Yvonne measure and quantify her customer's experience?

[16:55] How do Puppet’s core values align with Yvonne’s personal values?

[18:58] What can the software industry be doing to improve the ratio of male to female? 

[21:29] What role does open source play in bringing more voices and backgrounds to the software industry?

[23:00] Yvonne shares her advice for the next generation of enterprise software CEOs.

[24:38] How does Yvonne approach building for the future?

[27:08] What behaviors does Yvonne consider to be fundamental to drive growth for SaaS businesses, in the next five to 10 years?

[28:48] What are Yvonne’s priorities for the next one to 10 years? Ivonne shares her predictions for the future of, not just SaaS, but technology as a whole.

[30:30] How does Yvonne balance her multiple roles?

[31:03] Yvonne talks about her female role model.

[32:39] What was Yvonne’s first job?

[33:19] If there was a movie about Ivonne’s life, what actress would play her?

[34:07] What's the most important quality in a leader/how would Yvonne describe herself as a leader, if there was one word for it?

[34:22] One thing that Yvonne can´t live without.

Today's Host

Guest Thumbnail

Blake Bartlett

|Partner at OpenView

Today's Guests

Guest Thumbnail

Yvonne Wassenaar

|CEO of Puppet