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Get to know: David Sajoto of ExtraHop

Get to know: David Sajoto of ExtraHop

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On the lighter side of things we ask David Sajoto, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, ExtraHop, about what makes him tick.

David Sajoto, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, ExtraHop

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

From a personal point of view, I’d say the opportunity to live abroad on my own when I was nine years old and surviving my school years. My parents sent me to boarding school in Macau and after that, Australia. I didn’t know anyone or speak the local language in either country. The only way was up!

Professionally, I was blessed with the opportunity in 2012 to join Gigamon, a start-up here in Singapore. As its first employee in the region, I learnt a lot from being in charge of running the business, from building brand awareness and servicing customers to enabling the channel and hiring great talent ultimately leading to a very successful IPO. It was such a rewarding experience, seeing the development from an early stage into a public listed company.

What first made you think of a career in technology?

Even when I was in high school I realized the importance of technology in business; how it could lead to automation and increased productivity. Of course, I was one of those geeks who spent their lunch hours in the computer lab! Doing a double degree in computer science and engineering at Monash University in Melbourne allowed me to keep having fun designing applications and tinkering with hardware. A career in ICT seemed like the obvious next step.

What style of management philosophy do you employ in your current position?

My leadership style is about creating a shared vision and direction for all. I value a leadership philosophy named servant leadership which builds on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others, rather than accrue power or take control. When you have a very skilled team, you want to give them a sense of purpose and mission – and get out of the way. My job is not to dictate how they should do things; it’s to empower them and remove any roadblocks in their path.

What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?

COVID has created a storm of activity and supercharged the Digital Transformation process in the most extraordinary way. Enterprises are leveraging technology to achieve better outcomes – cloud, remote working, contactless payments, Internet of Things, telehealth…You name it, they’re not just thinking about it and evaluating their options, they’re getting in there and doing it.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

Family means a lot and spending quality time with them is very important to me. My wife and I have two daughters, aged 11 and 17, and we make a conscious effort to do a lot of fun activities together – playing games and going out for family treats. It helps to have the same hobbies. We all love to go cycling and grab a bite to eat afterwards.

If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?

Perhaps I’ve been lucky, I’ve enjoyed all the journeys in my career – the people and the work – and had the good fortune to learn from some really great leaders. If I’m put on the spot, I guess it would have been good to have moved into sales a little bit sooner. I started out on the technical side, working as an engineer and in pre-sales, before I hit my stride. And looking forward, rather than back, I’d love the opportunity to be involved in a social enterprise. It would be rewarding to be able to use my commercial experience in an altruistic way.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

This year, we’ve seen cybersecurity become a top priority for every organization. It has ceased to be an ICT issue and is now a pressing item on the boardroom agenda. Senior leaders have realized that an attack doesn’t just mean loss of data and possible disruption to operations. It can also result in damage to the brand which over time is likely to have a far bigger negative impact on the bottom line. There’s also a growing awareness that the work from home model has opened up a new frontier of risk. The many Chief Information Security Officers we engage with are all telling us the same thing – they’re being actively called upon to identify ways in which their security posture can be strengthened. Finding funds in the budget for technologies that enable them to secure assets and react more rapidly to threats has ceased to be an issue.

What are the region specific challenges when implementing new technologies in APAC?

APAC is so vast and has such a rich and diverse cultural history, not to mention dozens of different languages. That means many different ways of doing business. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is impossible. As a vendor, it’s our job to engage with a broad spectrum of customers and channel partners – and deliver solutions that are appropriate for their budgets, and the business and regulatory environments they operate in. At times, that can be challenging but the rewards are there – the region offers enormous growth opportunities for companies that are genuinely prepared to invest time and resources in becoming a trusted partner.

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?

I joined ExtraHop early in 2020. ExtraHop is relatively new in APAC but with great growth potential in the region. Despite the challenges with COVID restrictions, the APAC team has passionately engaged customers and partners to increase brand awareness and solutions offering. The APAC region has risen to the occasion and become the fastest growth engine for the company.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?

Other people’s experience can be incredibly valuable when you’re climbing the career ladder. A great mentor will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls and if they happen to be a leader in the organization where you’re working, you can count yourself doubly lucky. I’m also a big believer in positivity. Culture is created in the C-suite and being someone who inspires others and sets a great example will stand you in good stead, as you rise up the ranks. Most people prefer to work with, and for, someone who’s energetic and optimistic and has a vision for what they want to achieve.

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