PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
Why I joined PlanGrid: James Cook, Head of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships

Why I joined PlanGrid: James Cook, Head of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships

Last year, I joined PlanGrid to lead Strategic Alliances and Partnerships. I decided to make a career leap with PlanGrid because several key factors proved to me that here I would have an opportunity make a real impact in the construction industry — and, as a bonus, I would get to work with some amazing new people.

James Cook at PlanGrid HQ (Photo: Jesse Dodds)


My discussions with PlanGrid’s leadership team convinced me that they understood the power and value of a vibrant partner ecosystem. For many industries, the rise of the cloud, SaaS, and modern APIs allowed companies to begin selecting best-of-breed applications from different vendors, instead of being locked into a single suite or a stack of “good enough” applications from one provider.

Companies like Salesforce, DocuSign, and my former employer, Box, pioneered the approach of building an ecosystem to serve specific customer needs. At PlanGrid, I lead a similar transformation, but for the construction software industry.


Throughout my career, I’ve sought roles where I could solve real-world business problems, whether it was arranging financing for companies or powering document collaboration in the cloud; and PlanGrid fits that mold perfectly.

PlanGrid’s mobile-first platform combines powerful capabilities (e.g. sharing markups, sheet compare, and punchlist issues) with elegant design, focused on simplicity and ease of use. And our customers love it. They can now take information that was historically fragmented across paper, walkie talkie conversations, and foremen’s trucks — and with PlanGrid, view, share, and analyze that information.

PlanGrid helps builders use data to make construction more affordable while reclaiming their time. Instead of disrupting other technology — like most tech companies — I help customers disrupt their dependency on paper.


PlanGrid is at a stage in its growth where I can see my efforts helping to accelerate the business. At over 270 employees, the company has begun its transformation from a fledgling startup into a market leader. As PlanGrid continues to scale, we’ll need to instill rigorous, strategic thinking, while preserving the startup culture of rapid execution. Here, I draw on my experiences at massive global companies and fast-growing startups to help PlanGrid succeed during this critical and exciting time.


Having worked on teams where I liked and respected my bosses and coworkers, and also on teams where that was a struggle, I understand the importance of company culture; but it’s hard during an interview process to form a full picture of the culture.

As a proxy, I often apply the “airport test”: Would I be happy conversing with these potential new colleagues if I got stuck in an airport with them? As I evaluated my conversations during the hiring process through this lens, and now that I’ve worked with this amazing team for some time, a few things have become clear:

  • The PlanGrid employees interviewing me applied the same airport test. My interviews were genuine conversations rather than “gotcha” quizzes with right and wrong answers — fostering a collegial and collaborative environment from the outset.
  • PlanGrid employees exude a sincere passion and drive for customer success, which matched my own desire to make an impact and help transform customers’ businesses.
  • PlanGrid employees have a wide range of backgrounds in enterprise software, consumer technology, and the construction industry. Approximately 20% of PlanGrid’s team are veterans of the architectural, engineering, and construction industry, so the company completely understands the pain points of customers — and we speak their language.

Like any career change, when I decided to accept this job, I knew I was taking a leap of faith on the company and my new colleagues. So far, my experience at PlanGrid has exceeded my expectations. I invite you to join me.

If you have questions about PlanGrid or partnering with us, please reach out on LinkedIn.

Ready to help us transform the construction industry? Great! We’re hiring.

Author: James Cook

Made by builders for builders, PlanGrid has helped thousands of construction companies complete their projects on time and under budget. Find out how our construction app can help you do the same: call 800–646–0796 or reach out to