Why We Hired a CSO and formed a Board of Directors

You need to have an ego when you start a business. It’s what convinces you your big idea is possible and to keep believing in yourself even when things don’t go as planned. It guides you as you go against the grain and it’s what gets you from zero to one. 

But at some point, ego starts to work against you. To build something that can grow for a long time and serve a greater purpose, you need to seek scrutiny. You need to be questioned, to be challenged, and to add more voices to the table. As PartnerHero continues to grow, this becomes increasingly important to us. I may have founded the company, but this is not the “Shervin Show.” We’re doing something bigger here. 

That’s why I am thrilled to make two big announcements today. First, Ryan Berk is joining us as our first Chief Strategy Officer. 

I first met Ryan in 2016 when his walk-in refrigeration company Store It Cold won a USAID grant to bring their technology to Central America. Store It Cold brought on PartnerHero to do marketing, sales, and support within the Honduran market, and we enjoyed working together so much that I later joined their board. Ryan and I have been collaborating  in various ways ever since.

A few months ago, we brought Ryan in as a consultant here at PartnerHero. We’ve been so impressed with the impact he’s already made, that we decided to add him to our executive team as our first Chief Strategy Officer.

Ryan has a background in investment banking, private equity, and scaling companies. He has a business degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and his career as an investor and a CEO (among other things) has taken him from Texas to New York to Colorado, where he now lives with his wife and two children. 

We’ve passed the tipping point from a scalability standpoint. Over the past several years, we’ve built the systems needed to grow and now that we have operating leverage, Ryan can help us unlock that growth. Ryan’s expertise in corporate finance, business operations, and strategy will help us maximize our potential. 

Ryan isn’t the only move we’re making that will enable us to reach our ambitious vision. Earlier this year we formed our first official Board of Directors. 

This is unique for a bootstrapped, privately held business like ours. We don't have investors urging us to convene a board. The SEC didn't tell us we had to have one. This is something we've chosen to do in order to better support PartnerHero and its growing impact.  

I want to be clear about what a Board of Directors looks like at PartnerHero. This is not a board of golf buddies or “yes people.” Our board will provide strong, independent governance from folks with high integrity, creativity, and respect for our mission. Along with myself, the board includes: 

  • Heather Casey - President & COO, PartnerHero
  • Ryan Berk - Chief Strategy Officer, PartnerHero
  • Hassan Archer - CEO of Hassan Archer Consulting; Hassan has decades of software product management experience for Fortune 100 companies
  • Yin Lu - Partner at MCJ Collective; Yin is the former GM of Khan Academy’s international business and worked on DEI at the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation 

The board brings different perspectives from both business experience and lived experience. They will challenge our assumptions and help us chart a more resilient path forward by running our ideas through their own unique lenses and testing what we think we know. Above all, the PartnerHero board will embrace disagreement, encourage difficult conversations, and thrive on differing points of view. 

It’s important to note that three of our board members come from outside PartnerHero (though Ryan is joining us full-time today, he brings a set of fresh eyes to the board). This is intentional. I want this board to have open, honest discussions and to truly hold our leadership accountable as we grow. I expect to be challenged, I can be outvoted, I can even be fired. I’m proactively preventing myself from having unchecked control in favor of more strategic guidance, more voices at the top, and more diversity in opinions. 

“Be humble” is our first core value at PartnerHero, and to me, that means holding ourselves accountable, not pretending to have all of the answers, and freely giving up power when it’s the right thing to do.

I’m incredibly excited to work with Ryan and the entire board to strengthen PartnerHero as we grow, and I can’t wait to share more updates as we continue to pursue our mission.

Shervin Talieh