On the lighter side of things we ask Mark Fazackerley, Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand, Talend, about what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable experience?
I’ve always derived great satisfaction from helping people realize their potential, so encouraging my team to exceed their expectations of themselves and supporting future leaders on their career journeys are the experiences that matter most to me. It’s also rewarding and humbling when people who’ve worked for me in the past are prepared to do so again.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
It wasn’t my first career choice. I owned a design business in New Zealand in my younger years. Then, at some point in the nineties, my sister, who was engaged in the technology field, suggested I’d be pretty good at this computer stuff too! I started delving into the nascent world of IT and discovered she was right – I had a strong affinity for software. It appealed to my logical mind and its transformative power – the way in which you can create something from a bunch of ones and zeroes – continues to fascinate me to this day.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
No one would call me a micro-manager, that’s for sure! Clichéd it may be, but I aim to hire people who are smarter than me and let them do their jobs. I’m also drawn to the Zen Buddhist concept of Shoshin which is all about approaching things with a ‘beginner’s mind’; remaining open to the possibilities, rather than narrowing down your options too quickly. For that reason, I like to take input from everyone on the team and be as transparent and inclusive as possible when there are decisions to be made.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Uptake of the cloud. It’s really storming through the marketplace. Prior to COVID, a lot of businesses were thinking about it and talking about it, and a few were well down the cloud path, but now we’re seeing a massive acceleration. People have realized their legacy systems have outlived their usefulness or become too complex and, all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘let’s go’.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
Being a lifelong martial artist really helps. I’ve been training and instructing Japanese karate for 30 years and it’s a great way to clear your mind. Several times a week, I teach an early morning class and that gets the blood fizzing before breakfast! I’m also a yoga practitioner. The combination of those two things has helped keep me on an even keel through three acquisitions and a scores of high stakes software deals over the decades. I also love getting out on the bike whenever I can.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
No regrets about any of the career decisions I’ve made but, with the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have invested in my own education a little earlier, perhaps putting myself through an MBA. During my time at Oracle, I had the good fortune to take part in their intensive leadership training program. I came away thinking that many of the things that were talked about were things I’d picked up on my journey but formal training – having someone teach you the skills you need before you make the mistakes – might have meant fewer lessons learnt the hard way!
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Data and data analytics are perennial priorities. Since the millennium, we’ve gone from banded reports to dashboards and 3D visualizations but managing and utilizing data to best advantage has remained an issue. With the focus shifting towards user-driven data analytics, I think it’s finally being addressed. Everyone is investing in good, useful tools that allow the people within the business who ‘own’ data to interrogate and interpret it more easily. Every company is a data company today.
What are the region specific challenges when implementing new technology in APAC?
The very different degrees of maturity in the various economies will always be one of the challenges vendors face when tackling APAC. Countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are reasonably wealthy but, from a technology perspective, have been slower to deploy the latest technologies compared with the likes of South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. You also need to be cognisant of the cultural and political elements that can complicate a technology roll-out. In some countries, for example, transparency is not necessarily something to strive for. It’s impossible to take a generic approach to the markets that make up the region and you can run into difficulties if your marketing and implementation strategies don’t reflect that reality.
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 spent a lot less time traveling and a lot more time in Zoom meetings last year. Adjusting for the deficiencies of virtual communication was one of 2020’s notable challenges. Having said, many people, myself included, will now assess the value they’re likely to derive from a face to face meeting, before jumping on a plane. The year ahead promises to be a big one. I joined Talend in January 2021, at an exciting time for the company. It’s at an inflection point – 1500 employees and racing towards annual revenue of US$1 billion – where, if growth accelerates rapidly, it will leap into the tier one vendor ranks. Scaling out the team and overseeing regional expansion promises to keep me busy.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Learn to expand your time horizons and take a long view. If you want to sit in the C-suite, you need to be able to look 18 to 36 months into the future; challenging in a fast-moving industry like ours. Recognize that humility and inclusiveness will win more mindshare from colleagues and clients than a ‘my way or the highway’ approach. Be authentic and display integrity in your dealings. Finding a mentor or champion can also help. Having the MD of the company I was working for some years ago encourage me to prepare myself for a leadership role was a defining moment for me.Click below to share this article