What Christa Quarles, CEO at Alludo, told us about her approach to running the business behind Parallels®️, CorelDRAW®️, MindManager®️, and WinZip®️.
Can you tell us about your role and responsibilities?
My main role as Alludo’s CEO is to lead the company on its journey to deliver transformative products that enable people to work better and live better. We’re reimagining the future of work by giving people more space and time to create, ideate, and share—whether that’s through stunning graphics and art, brainstorming, or providing secure environments that enable people to be productive anywhere. Being a leader doesn’t just mean hitting ambitious KPIs: I prioritize creating a work culture that lets each of our teammates to bring the full force of their talents and perspectives to Alludo every day. I want our business to be synonymous with celebrating people and enabling them to achieve their best work.
The world has changed since the pandemic and for many of us, our priorities have shifted. While pandemic life has been difficult, it has also embraced workers’ freedom and flexibility like never before. The genie is out of the bottle and many of us are not particularly interested in getting back to a ‘normal’ working life. The 9-5 grind has lost its appeal. In fact, at Alludo, we’re consciously dismantling generations of notions about what work ‘should’ look and feel like. We have this incredible opportunity to redefine the work experience for both our employees and our customers. This mission is a fundamental to me as CEO.
What is your point of difference as a business?
I think Alludo stands out in two big ways. First, we put a huge emphasis on user experience. Across our product lines, we aim to unlock everyone’s potential to collaborate, connect, and innovate. This focus is an uncompromising tenet of our product design philosophy.
Our second point of difference is how we empower knowledge workers to work how, where, and when they want. Long gone are the days of waking up at the break of dawn to get stuck in traffic on the way into the office. We already know that workers don’t need to physically go into the workplace to do great work, and our products give people and organizations even greater freedom and flexibility to do what they do best, how they do it best. When you work better, you live better – everything we do at Alludo is based on this philosophy.
What is your leadership style?
To build a successful company, it’s important to foster a culture of psychological safety where risk taking is encouraged and rewarded. Good ideas come from corner of the company, so it’s crucial that we maintain open channels of communication where our employees feel secure in speaking up. As a leader, I sometimes think of it in terms of an orchestra. Everyone owns their own part, and as the conductor, it’s my job to bring us together in harmony.
On a personal level, it’s important to me to lead in a way that encourages transparency and constructive feedback. The book Radical Candor by Kim Scott has hugely influenced the way I communicate. Scott argues that the best leaders are those that sincerely care about their employees on an individual level. Within this environment of trust, being radically candid allows you to deliver meaningful, honest feedback that drives growth instead of fostering negativity.
Most importantly, when leaders commit themselves to transparency, employees will be inspired to do the same. Creative ideas are readily shared. Problems are solved faster. And deadlines are met quicker.
What has been your career highlight prior to your current role?
I’m energized by possibility and the opportunity to reimagine things, and I’m fortunate that I’ve had this opportunity multiple times in my career. I started my career working at Thomas Weisel, a west coast boutique investment bank, as a financial analyst covering the tech space. In this role, I was brushing shoulders with CEOs from a variety of organizations, constantly trying to understand their strategy and business models to figure out if they were going to be the next big IPO (initial public offering). I realised that during these conversations, I had never felt more energized. I would think about their organization and where it could go. I had all these ideas, and I had this incredible landscape of what I thought was needed to optimize success.
Eventually, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “why am I standing on the side lines?” So, in 2009, I left to go to a tech start-up. That start-up was bought by The Walt Disney Company less than a year into my tenure. My time at Disney is to this day one of my career highlights. I was promoted three times in three years and transitioned from being a straight-up financial professional to an overall GM operator. I was able to really show my value when I had my own P&L inside of Disney. It was here that I came into my own, because I could explore and reimagine what’s possible. I thrive at the intersection of data and vision.
What has been your highlight in your current role?
I have been at Alludo now for just over two years and find it truly amazing to reflect on my time so far. When taking on a new role and starting to make it my own, I like to take the time to lay out all the groundwork and build up from there. My first year at the company was all about putting the pieces on the chessboard. In 2022, we were ready to play.
As CEO, I’ve been focused on a path of transformation – bringing in fresh talent, a new style of leadership, and breaking down silos. For me, the highlight has been experiencing all these ideas being realized. Seeing how far we’ve already come has been incredibly rewarding.
What exciting plans do you have coming up as an organisation?
As an organization, we’re always looking at the world around us to see how we can better respond. We’re honoured our solutions play a major role in solving our customers’ day-to-day challenges, freeing them up to work and live better. We’re not just creating and elevating products, but truly innovating work itself. This mission informs all our plans.
It’s clear that the world is ready – in fact, we think it’s demanding – a new way of working. Our team is driven by a few key questions. What does a working world based on freedom and flexibility look like? Who do we want to be now? What does it mean to lead in this new world?
The possibilities are endless. We have the opportunity to create a new way of working where each of us has the freedom and flexibility to choose when, how, and where to do our best work. At Alludo, we’re calling this new reality Work3, and we’re thrilled to be not just embracing it, but building it – for our employees and our customers.
What technology are you most looking forward to using more of?
Across the industry, I think organizations everywhere should be adopting Zero-Trust models and pushing for the demise of VPNs.
VPNs may have had their time, but in simple terms, they are outdated for secure work in today’s world. With widespread workforces, VPN can’t keep up with the security needs of a flexible working environment. Zero-Trust is a far more secure and scalable. Evolving from an identity-centric approach and the adoption of mobile and cloud technologies, Zero-Trust environments have become particularly popular in the move into remote and hybrid work. As a business mindset with strategic assessments of all applications and systems, Zero-Trust is transforming the security landscape.