An Interview with Paul Thyssen
It’s an exciting time at Gallery Systems. Over the last year and a half, we’ve migrated more client projects than ever to our web-based solutions, successfully transitioned our staff to working remotely, and pivoted all our regular training and conferences to virtual events. We’ve also had a change in leadership and are pleased to introduce Paul Thyssen as our new General Manager, overseeing management at Gallery Systems.
Although Jay Hoffman, the founder, and former CEO of Gallery Systems, is still involved in the business, he has expanded his role and is supporting several other non-profit sector software companies in addition to Gallery Systems. Paul Thyssen, who was previously part of the Gallery Systems Sales team for 15 years—9 of which were as the Director of Sales—assumed the role of General Manager, earlier this year.
We recently caught up with Paul to learn more about him and his plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Well, several generations ago, my ancestors consisted of artists, sculptors, and horticulturists and that always piqued my curiosity and creativity. I would spend countless hours as a young lad creating art pieces in different mediums from wood to paintings, and more. Though I was never necessarily confident in the pieces, my family was always proud of the crafts I shared with them.
Before coming to Gallery Systems, I worked at a private museum that used our software. The experience inspired me from both a business and cultural perspective. I later joined Gallery Systems as an Account Manager for six years, working with both new and existing clients to find solutions to their collection management technology needs, before being promoted to Director of Sales.
As the Director of Sales, I built our sales team to grow our business across various disciplines and geographic regions. I believe that I share the same passion that many of our clients have for the cultural landscape, so it has been a really rewarding journey towards my new role as General Manager of Gallery Systems.
What motivated you to want to become General Manager? Can you share the ways you plan on bringing your unique perspective to this role?
When the position became available, I started to realize that I could make a real impact in the role. My experience as Director of Sales where I was working with clients from a variety of backgrounds had nurtured my people skills, strengthened my relationships within our community, and motivated me to want to help clients achieve success within their organizations. The more I thought about becoming Gallery Systems’ new General Manager, the more excited I became. Collaborating with our clients and our teams to achieve success comes naturally to me. It is probably going to sound cliché, but at this point in my life and career, I want to help make the world a better place to live in, and the only way we can achieve that is by doing it together.
Do you have any mottos that you ascribe to?
It’s all about teamwork. Our team is one of our most important assets, and they help our clients achieve success. What has always impressed me about the team at Gallery Systems is their depth of experience and their tenure. My father spent most of his life working at one company but that is not nearly the norm today, so I believe that our employee’s tenures say a lot about the quality of our talent and the culture at Gallery Systems. I was recently reviewing our tenure and was amazed to see how many 10-, 15- and 20-year anniversaries there were to acknowledge, as well as a 25–year anniversary coming up. It would be naïve to say that we are perfect, but I feel fortunate to be starting my role as the new General Manager with this amazing team. One of my goals is to build upon the talent that Gallery Systems already has.
What word would you use to describe your leadership style?
If I had to use a single word to describe my leadership style, I would say “democratic.” I value the input from our clients and our team. It helps us make informed and rational decisions.
Many Gallery Systems clients know you from your 15-year tenure as Director of Sales. What changes can clients expect going forward?
Aside from expanding our talent, another key area of focus will be to give greater attention to our clients’ needs so that we can help them meet their mission goals and objectives while getting the most value from our solutions. We have always welcomed customer feedback, but as our client base continues to grow, we will be looking at new ways to learn about our customer experiences and needs. One of the more formalized ways we will be doing this is through the implementation of a Customer Success program.
What are your long-term plans for Gallery Systems?
In addition to expanded customer focus, we will continue to modernize and innovate our existing products and solutions to meet the ever-changing demands of our clients in the cultural space. We will continue to build on our belief in a museum-wide suite of solutions that fosters our client’s success and growth, while creating high quality and intuitive products that keep them ahead of the curve.
What challenges facing the company keep you up at night?
The ever-changing world we live in. Keeping our staff safe during the pandemic.
Let’s close on a light note. What is something you like to do outside of work that might surprise us?
In my spare time, I can often be found researching my family ancestry or doing volunteer work. My parents immigrated to the United State from Europe in the 1950s as adults and I’ve always loved learning about their different cultures, cuisine, and history. Their background drove me to build family trees going back to the 16th century within a single family branch.
Given that I am interested in culture and technology, I also did a DNA test. I was happy to stumble upon a distant cousin in the United States connected from my father’s side. She had been trying to find a family connection after WWII separated her parents in Austria. While I am still researching the direct connection through the family tree, our DNA match was the closest next to first cousins and relatives I already knew, so we made plans to meet and became friends.
Otherwise, I enjoy doing volunteer work in neighborhood community organizations. I helped co-found a Property-based Business Improvement District, and served on its executive board for quite a few years. One of the organization’s main goals was to bring value to the community through art, and while on the board, I led an effort to create new public art pieces in the neighbourhood. The organization also helped sponsor the creation of the temporary Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, California, which was a great success. Outside of my involvement in cultural spaces, I also generally enjoy volunteering activities where I can help others.
Any final thoughts you would like to share with us?
I would like to thank our clients and partners for their continued support, over the years. You inspire us to keep developing and growing our solutions and service offerings. You are the reason Gallery Systems is here.