Subserveo Case Study

Start-Up Succeeds During Recession

"We have been using Topgrading for years and there’s no question – the business results are a lot better."

- Shannon Susko, President

Industry: Financial Services (post-trade compliance to broker dealers)


  • 90% A Players hired and promoted using Topgrading
  • Company finds success during the Great Recession
  • A Players attract other A Player candidates in a tight hiring market

The Challenge

Subserveo is a subscription-based company which was founded in 2008, the beginning of The Great Recession. Although the team grew from 0 to 40 people in less than 15 months, it was difficult to find great people to join the company in such a tight employment marketplace. With business in general down, persuading A Players to take a chance on a start-up was a challenge.


Shannon Susko became familiar with Topgrading when she employed the guidance of Brad Smart to help her save, turn around, and sell her first company. It has been a key part of her work ever since.

At Subserveo, Susko and her colleagues never wavered from the Topgrading processes for hiring, growing, and promoting their team members. All leaders and team members were trained in their hiring process, which was powered by Topgrading. Susko's team used a 90-day coaching review, tying development and results back to the Job Scorecard and the measurable accountabilities in each job.


Ninety percent of the people hired and promoted at Subserveo have turned out to be A Players. The company's reputation for building teams of A Players helped overcome the challenge of finding talent in a difficult market.

The company grew over three years and was then sold to DST Systems. The ROI to shareholders was in the range of 9 times invested capital, with 61 times top-line revenue.

Subserveo was one of the Top 3 Midmarket Deals on Wall Street in at the time of its sale, and was named Deal Maker of the Year that year in Vancouver.

Shannon Susko is a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold two companies successfully less than 6 years apart.

These days her CEO & Leadership coaching company, Metronome United, has over 70 coaches worldwide.

Susko's Advice to Future Topgraders

  • Don't wait; time is scarce. Invest upfront to get leaders trained and implement the Topgrading process throughout your organization. It will save you time and money, and increase the value of your company to shareholders. It is a MUST!
  • Don’t cut corners. There are always “reasons” why a leader can become impatient, claiming “I need someone now,” and wants to cut corners. The Topgrading methods are all time-tested and proven; if you cut a Topgrading Interview short or fail to conduct reference calls with candidates' managers, your mis-hires will shoot up.
  • Spread the word. Initially people think Topgrading is too hard – long interviews, reference calls, etc. But if they take the time to learn about the methodology, they always realize that it saves time and money (because mis-hires are way down). Even more importantly, Topgrading increases the value to shareholders. We continued to leverage Topgrading throughout the entire business unit even after Subserveo was bought by DST Systems, a $3B company.

Talk to an advisor to see how Topgrading can help your organization.


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