Curious to get to know Justin Leavenworth, our CEO? You’ve come to the right place! In this interview, you’ll learn more about his background, his role at spriteCloud and his vision for the company. We are also diving into spriteCloud’s working culture and what we all have in common around here: our desire to learn. Let’s get started!
Hi Justin, can you tell us a few words about yourself?
Hi, I am Justin Leavenworth, the Group CEO for spriteCloud holding BV. I was born in Mexico to a Swiss mother and an American father. I grew up in Mexico and the United States while speaking three languages, which influenced me to pursue an education in Cultural Anthropology.
We want to know more about your background. What was the path you took to get to where you are today?
My path has been a winding one full of adventures! I started as an entrepreneur when I was 26 years old working in translation, language and cross-cultural training. I launched an online language training product for six languages. Then I shifted to being an entrepreneur in sustainable food production where I developed an NFC chip-embedded cutting board for children to learn about food. I also managed the largest sustainability traceability platform in the world.
Before I became spriteCloud’s CEO or Chief Entrepreneur Officer, I was an entrepreneur in cybersecurity working with cyber deception and penetration testing tools. By now you probably get that I have an entrepreneurial mindset. For spriteCloud, that means that our values are based on this mindset: freedom, autonomy and intrinsic motivation. This is also reflected in the way employees work. I believe staff should be given the freedom and support to co-create the company they want spriteCloud to be.
That’s a good transition to the next question: what’s your leadership style?
I would say that I am an empathetic leader. Empathetic leadership is about focusing on developing others, it allows me to coach people so they can grow. It is also about creating a sense of safety and wellbeing. I believe when people feel safe, their work is better and more creative. It also gives me the capacity to relate to different groups of people and invite people with different perspectives to work together which creates cognitive diversity in an organisation.
Another hallmark of my leadership style is that I believe in giving people freedom. I don’t micromanage my teams, I trust people to do what they say they will do and give them the freedom to plan their day as it bests suits them. That also applies to the location they work from. If it suits the clients’ needs, staff can choose where they want to work from – be it our office, their home in the Netherlands or another country.
Looking towards the future, what goal do you have for spriteCloud?
My goal is to make spriteCloud a global leader in software testing, with learning as the foundation of our success. The reason for this is that I believe we must develop a philosophy of “learn, unlearn and relearn” to be successful. This quote is from Alvin Toffler’s book, Future Shock, in which he explains that those who are unable to learn, unlearn, and relearn would be the illiterates of the 21st century. In simple terms learn, unlearn, relearn, means “what got you here, won’t get you there.” You need to reassess your knowledge to progress.
At a higher level, it is also a concept that has pervaded human spiritualism. In Hinduism it is the idea of the creator, the maintainer and the destroyer; in Christianity, it is the idea of birth, death and rebirth; in Buddhism, body, mind and spirit and in Judaism, nothingness, wisdom, and understanding. It is all about destroying your creation to allow the next creation to manifest. From an evolutionary perspective, it is the idea that evolution is about adapting to your changing environment, not trying to keep your environment static.
Coming back to spriteCloud and our staff, in order to adapt to the rapidly changing environment that characterises the tech industry people will have different roles according to their skill level based on the idea of learn, unlearn, relearn. Our junior colleagues will focus on learning established information, while seniors – or as I like to call them rebels – will challenge what we know or the industry status quo. The former embrace the role of learners, while the latter are unlearners. The teachers represent the third role: the relearners. They are teaching the next generation of learners. This cycle ensures that spriteCloud stays agile, constantly evolving to meet the new technological demands of the market, and ultimately avoids future shock.
What are the pre-conditions to foster this continuous learning process in a software testing consultancy like ours in your opinion?
I believe it is necessary to create an environment where testers feel valued and supported. This is a prerequisite for allowing them to think creatively, look at problems from different perspectives and challenge assumptions. If you take the idea back to management theories like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you need to ensure that the lower levels of the pyramid are fulfilled before you can expect staff members to self-actualise and thrive.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of spriteCloud right now?
Our greatest strength is our desire to evolve, we are always striving to meet and exceed market demands. Market demands also shift as the technological landscape shifts and we as test consultants are expected to know and understand these new requirements. At the core of every tester, is that desire to learn and evolve. Our ability to evolve will allow us to thrive in an industry where every six months there is a new threat.
We feel that this strength is so important to the continued growth of spriteCloud that we are working on ways to foster the innovation and learning required for evolving. So stay tuned!
Thinking about your career, where do you see yourself in the future?
I see myself running the company that will disrupt the global testing market, not just software testing but all testing, hardware, medical, educational, etc. I see the convergence of AI, machine learning and test automation coming together to disrupt all testing markets.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I am a health nut, in particular when it comes to ways of decreasing morbidity and increasing longevity. So, in my spare time, I am learning about health and nutrition and I am training both for the 400m sprinting Olympics and weight lifting. My 20-year goal is to become the fastest 70-year-old man in the world! I also love to travel, to continue to learn about history, new cultures, and new foods. I love to jog through new cities to get exercise and to sightsee!