On the lighter side of things, we ask Will Barrera, Leader – Regional Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, ThousandEyes about what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
My ICT career spans more than 20 years but my most memorable achievement is a recent one. When I joined ThousandEyes in 2018, I was the first employee in Australia and responsible for helping launch the company across the region. Within two years, the APAC team had grown to 14 staff, before the company was acquired by Cisco. Having that happen was testament to the incredible company, platform and culture our founders, Mohit Lad and Ricardo Oliveira, had built. Playing a part in that success story has been incredibly rewarding.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
It was more by chance than design. I was studying biochemistry at university in the early 90s but ended up dropping out, following a family tragedy. My eldest brother was working in the computer industry and suggested I could do worse than follow suit. I completed an Advanced Certificate in Microcomputer Technology at a private college and I got an ‘in’. The industry was fast paced and exciting, especially at that time when personal computers were becoming ubiquitous, and I never looked back.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I’ve been lucky enough to have had some really good leaders over the years and I’ve tried to learn a little bit from each of them. Fostering a democratic environment is important to me and I like for everyone’s voice to be heard. I’m also a big believer in transparency and I do my best to share what I feel is important and what our priorities are. Celebrating the achievements of your team is also critical. So is not getting a big head!
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Historically, most organizations have relied on an internal network but the COVID crisis has changed that. With so many people working from home, the Internet has become the new backbone but, unlike the corporate network, it’s not owned or managed by anyone. When something goes wrong, the technical support team can’t necessarily step in and solve it. Businesses need to adapt to operating in that new environment.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
My wife and children keep me grounded. Everyone in the house is busy – my daughter is completing her HSC and my son is studying Nanoscience – but we enjoy doing everyday things together, like walking the dog around the harbor. I’m a sports fan – playing and watching – although my soccer career was curtailed when I broke my ankle and developed tendonitis. Three years ago, I switched to running and I’ve clocked up three half marathons. I wouldn’t say I really love it but once you’re in the zone it’s not too bad. In fact, I need to do more of it – like many people, I’ve packed on a few kilos during COVID!
If you could go back and change one career decision what would it be?
Wind the clock back 25 years and I wish I’d headed off with a backpack to work my way round the world. I didn’t travel overseas much until I was posted to Singapore by CA Technologies in 2011. Seeing other countries is endlessly fascinating and I’d love to have had the opportunity to do it as a younger person. Having said that, I’ve well and truly scratched the itch in middle age – I worked out recently that I’d been on something like 150 overseas trips in the last decade.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Technology that enables end to end visibility of operations is coming into its own, courtesy of the pandemic. COVID has overturned traditional procurement protocols for equipment and systems in many organizations. Historically, companies could make informed decisions about the products employees could use and the infrastructure needed to support them but that’s gone out the window. People are saying they want to use Office365, cloud applications, Zoom – all these solutions make for a better employee experience but they’re not ‘owned’ by the IT department and, when problems arise, they can be trickier to diagnose and resolve.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in APAC?
There’s no better place to work than APAC. I love the region, but people have to trust you before they’ll work with you and winning that trust isn’t easy. You’re selling one suite of products but the markets are incredibly diverse. The way you sell to customers in India is completely different from the way you sell to customers in Australia, in Japan, in Indonesia… Adapting your offering can be challenging, particularly for a smaller organization which doesn’t have high brand recognition.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Almost two years ago, I was a one-man-band single-handedly working to grow the ThousandEyes brand in APAC. Fast forward to now and I’m part of a multinational corporation which employs 75,000 people who all share that mission towards growth. It has been quite the trip! Being acquired by Cisco is a big change and now is the time to fully harness that potential and the resources that will allow us to do so much more for our customers, and so much faster.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Last year I saw a colleague wearing a T-shirt with the slogan ‘be comfortable being uncomfortable’. That really resonated with me. Doing things that you might not be used to or that others are unwilling to do can give you an edge over people who are less prepared to get stuck in. Working hard is always important but so is being visible. I’m not a proponent of showing off or mindless self-promotion but people do need to see the value that you add.Click below to share this article