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Get to know: Craig Flatt, General Manager Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, Solo.io

Get to know: Craig Flatt, General Manager Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, Solo.io

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What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

Landing a multi-million-dollar, multi-year commitment from an enterprise customer four months after arriving at Solo.io in late 2021 is up there. We managed to find a client with a huge transformation program underway and the moons aligned. Growing our APAC team from three to 12 is another thing I’m proud of, mainly because our new joiners have come across from very large organizations like Google, Red Hat and VMWare. I took the leap myself because I believed in the technology and the organization and it was a good feeling to have that decision validated by people I really rate. They’ve put faith in me as a leader too and that’s flattering and humbling.

What first made you think of a career in technology?

I stumbled into it! I was selling classified ads at my local paper, the Reading Chronicle, in the UK. My mum was working as a facilities manager for a company called Integralis, one of Europe’s largest security systems integrators. Her job had nothing to do with IT but I met one of her colleagues at a barbecue and we hit it off. He was a sales lead and offered me an opportunity as an inside sales rep. Although it was quite different from ad sales, my skills proved pretty transportable.

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

Craig Flatt, General Manager Sales Asia Pacific and Japan, Solo.io

My philosophy has always been to not just ask people to do things, but to do them myself and demonstrate how. Obsessing about the customer and how we can make them successful is a key driver for me. I provide honest and direct feedback to my team members to help them grow and I like it when they return the compliment because it’s a two-way street. Outside of decisions about quotas and numbers, which we don’t have much input on, I try to bring people into the decision making process wherever possible.

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

I’m old enough to have witnessed a few waves of technology, with cloud computing being the clear stand-out from the last decade. What we’re seeing now is an explosion of cloud-native computing, as a way to deliver new applications and experiences for enterprise customers that want to move at the pace of start-ups. Security is the other high agenda item. Zero trust architecture and solutions that address the cloud-native development environment are coming into their own.

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

Living in an ‘always on’ culture makes it harder than it used to be but having a supportive family and young children helps. They can really cut through stress! My wife owns a CrossFit gym on Sydney’s northern beaches and I try to get there six days a week, although building Solo.io this past year has forced me to cut back a bit. My other passion is football. Being from England, I grew up with a footy at my feet and I’ve enjoyed the game for most of my life.

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

Everyone’s life has its major turning points. The thought of going back and changing one thing brings movies like The Butterfly Effect to mind – everything in your current life changes completely and I wouldn’t take that risk! I’m super thankful for all the opportunities I’ve been given and whatever direction I’ve chosen has been right overall for where I’ve ended up. One of the biggest career decisions I’ve made was to move to Australia 14 years ago. Leaving behind family and friends in the UK was hard but I was lucky enough to get married and have children in my new homeland so I’m incredibly happy with where I am today.

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

Austerity and economic factors are driving decisions at present. The predicted recession and rising interest rates are influencing consumer behavior and that has a roll-on effect for a lot of our customers. We are also seeing a big focus on security investment, particularly in the API space. APIs have increased the attack surface and, while security postures may have been well thought through when they first became prevalent, the capability of bad actors in this space has increased. That’s created a huge challenge for network security and the focus is very much on trying to knock off the biggest risks.

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

Cultural differences and the geographic spread can be significant barriers to entry for new players. Markets within the region are at different levels of maturity and aligning the value of your technology with where a country is at can be a balancing act. Partners are super-critical – you can’t succeed without leveraging their eco-systems – and it can be a challenge working out who to invest in, particularly if your own resources are modest.

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 only joined Solo.io 12 months ago, there haven’t been too many. We’ve been running at 1,000 miles an hour and we’re yet to slow down as our APAC sales machine builds momentum. Next year we’ll be investing in go-to-market resources in key countries and that will mean some overseas travel for me.

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

Look for mentors who can nurture and elevate you. I’ve had the good fortune to have had several. The right person at the right time can be a real career accelerant. Taking opportunities as they’re presented is also important – you need to be able to recognize when it’s the right time to move.

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