Sure Adley Bowden has been with the same company for a decade. But the PitchBook that hired him practically straight out of the University of Washington back in 2008 bears little resemblance to its former self.
“It’s the same name,” he said, “but it’s a totally different company.”
Bowden has changed a bit, too.
He started at Pitchbook as employee No. 5, working as a research associate for the Seattle-based business that provides data on investments and venture capital. As the company grew, so did his responsibilities and titles.
In 2016, he helped PitchBook founder and CEO John Gabbert with their Series B fundraising and their $225 million sale to Morningstar. He is currently vice president of market development and analysis, leading their research team — which has 300 people on three continents — and the editorial team, which is comprised of five different teams and located in Seattle and London.
PitchBook sells research, data and tools for accessing the information to people who track private equity, venture capital deals and mergers and acquisitions. Media outlets, including GeekWire, cite PitchBook data in investment stories. Bowden’s editorial team generates a daily newsletter on private equity and VC with a circulation of 500,000 and produces an online news hub with more than 1 million quarterly page views.
Bowden admits that he sometimes conjures romanticized visions of being a scrappy startup, but then remembers that they no longer worry about covering payroll, can hire whomever they need and have the resources to quickly pursue new projects.
“l really like this stage, size and global platform that we have now,” Bowden said. The pace can be a challenge, he said, and sometimes it feels like you have to keep solving the same problems over and over again, but with new solutions that match PitchBook’s growing reach.
As a VP, he has found a leadership style that fits.
“My job as a leader is to help my teams, first and foremost,” Bowden said. When done right, he needs to lay out the objectives for this employees, “then my job is to be a chief supporter and not a directive, top down, here-are-five-things-to-do” sort of boss.
“If I try to dictate, I get in the way,” he said. “It’s better to be the ‘chief servant’ to them.”
We caught up with Bowden for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Seattle
Computer types: Lenovo ThinkPad (I can’t seem to kill it)
Mobile devices: iPhone 6s
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: For work: Nuzzel, Asana, Slack, Pocket, the Outlook email app, Microsoft’s Power BI and of course the PitchBook app!
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? PitchBook has an open floor plan with no personal offices or cubicles, which was designed to encourage collaboration within and across teams. Since I run two different teams, I have a desk that is in the middle of each department. My workspaces are pretty-simple. One has a Varidesk for when I want to stand, the other has a Herman-Miller Aeron chair my dad got me as a wedding gift. Outside of a dual monitor/laptop dock and a bunch of empty coffee mugs, I don’t keep much at my desk. My two kids, ages 5 and 3, love to draw so I try to always have a recent drawing or two from them at my desk. In reality, I spend so little time at my desk that most people don’t even bother to look there when trying to find me.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? There is a tomorrow. (It doesn’t all need to happen today.)
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? Instagram. Helps me stay up on what the people I spend all day with in a work environment do outside of work.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 41,909
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 36
How do you run meetings? I like to spend the first five-to-10 minutes catching up on a personal level with the people in the room. It is likely the only time I’ll have with them that day, so it helps me to get a pulse on how they are doing, builds relationships and gives me a bit of discovery into how the meeting might play out.
In general, I’m always trying to develop strong team-wide meeting habits. This includes making sure there are agendas, clear purposes, meeting minutes, recaps and follow ups, which are ideally all tracked in Asana. This is especially crucial given that the teams I work with are distributed across three continents.
Everyday work uniform? The Seattle uniform: jeans, button-down and usually a quarter-zip pullover or sweater this time of year.
How do you make time for family? It is a team effort with my wife. We make a home-cooked family dinner a big priority, which helps to force an end of the day in the office and create family time. The other way I make time for family is keeping my non-work and non-family responsibilities to a minimum. I would love to be involved in a lot more things, but have learned it’s better to focus on a couple and put my energy there rather than spread it around.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Getting outside. A little bit of exercise and fresh air is incredibly restorative. My other go to is a good magazine or the Sunday New York Times and a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.
What are you listening to? George Ezra, Lumineers, Josh Ritter, Beastie Boys and Jurassic Five — or financial podcasts.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? PitchBook’s daily newsletter, Bloomberg, Axios, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Financial Times and GeekWire, of course. We also have this great Slack channel for Recommend Reads in our Analyst and Editorial department that is full of fascinating reads on all topics, and we use it to curate our newsletter’s recommend reads section. Outside of work, I am reading something cycling or outdoor related.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? Usually have a few going at any one time. Right now I’m reading “A Dozen Lessons from Entrepreneurs” by Tren Griffin, “The Bitcoin Standard” by Saifedean Ammous and “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Night owl or early riser? I’m a bit of both, but six hours of sleep is probably the norm. I can usually count on at least one wake up from the kiddos per night. Luckily my wife works at Starbucks, so coffee is never in short supply.
Where do you get your best ideas? I get them from all over. I believe that it is my job to focus more on working with people to develop (or challenge) their ideas than to come up with my own. Otherwise, I try to be as widely read/studied as I can to spot ideas that have worked for others and bring them to what I am doing.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square — leading two departments is enough, let alone two companies! And LeBron James because of how he stays at the top of his game, elevates those around him and then off the court accomplishes so much.