She helped one company define a new market. Now, former MetricStream CEO Shellye Archambeau is joining $7.4 billion Okta to do it again

OktaShellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream and Okta’s new board member
  • On Thursday, Okta shareholders voted to bring Shellye Archambeau, former CEO of MetricStream, on to its board of directors.
  • Okta CEO Todd McKinnon believes Archambeau’s experience in helping a company define a new category will help Okta as it continues to define itself in security and identity management.
  • Okta also brought on Archambeau as it moves to bring on more independent directors from other companies, mixing it up with its current roster which is mainly venture capitalists.
  • Archambeau, the first African American woman on the board, is an outspoken advocate for diversity in tech.

About a week after $US7.4 billion identity management company Okta reported blockbuster earnings – proving to Wall Street that it’s a worthy rival to Microsoft – it will welcome a new member on its board of directors.

Okta announced Thursday that Shellye Archambeau, formerly the 15-year CEO of MetricStream, will join its board of directors.

When Archambeau first joined MetricStream in 2003, the company was struggling to grow. Archambeau was hired as CEO to fix this, and says she immediately took action in leading the team to define the company’s place as a provider of governance, risk management, and compliance software.

“We needed to understand what the market truly means,” Archambeau told Business Insider. “I led a terrific team in building a new market. When we started going after governance risk and compliance, the space wasn’t even defined. We were evangelizing and work to create that marketplace. I learned about growing and scaling a company internationally.”

Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said Archambeau’s background in leading a company through transition, as well as her experience in executive positions at major tech companies like IBM, will be invaluable.

“Being a CEO through that kind of transition is super valuable,” McKinnon told Business Insider. “She has experience in leadership through growth and transitions. She’ll be working with the rest of the board as we grow very quickly and define the new market.”

To that point, Okta is carving out its own category in meshing together identity management and security as more companies move to the cloud. That’s important as even non-tech companies, like restaurants and banks, transform into technology companies as they build websites and apps.

What brought Archambeau to Okta

After Archambeau left her post at MetricStream in January, she was looking for ways to continue staying involved in the tech industry. She was introduced to Okta by Ben Horowitz, cofounder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and says she was intrigued by the company’s security-focused mission.

Archambeau said that in her experience, defining a new market involved two major steps: solving a particular problem, and evangelizing that the problem can be solved.

“We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” Archambeau said. “Learning how to best harness, as well as manage, those new technologies is going to take a lot of effort as we go forward, but this will also bring a lot of benefits…I am very optimistic about how all these technologies will look like going forward.”

The company has seen strong performance for years, but McKinnon believes that Archambeau’s experience will help Okta continue to innovate in the category even further. In a larger sense, Okta went public in April 2017, and is now trying to bring in more independent directors to mix up its roster of mostly venture capitalists.

Besides becoming a board member as a former tech CEO, Archambeau is also the first African American woman on the board, and over the course of her career, she has spoken about the importance of diversity in tech. Prior to her joining, Okta’s board had seven members, including one woman.

Read more:

If Silicon Valley Wanted To Solve The Diversity Issue, It Would Be Solved

“I think it’s helpful when boards have a diverse mix of directors,” Archambeau said. “I see building diverse boards as ultimately being a benefit to the company. You bring a broader set of perspectives to the company as you build the overall strategy.”

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