We speak to Darrius Jones, Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Marketing Officer, Poly, to find out what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
On a personal level, nothing compares to being parent to two amazing children – I am truly blessed. Professionally, my most memorable achievement is representing Poly at our London event on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. There, we celebrated not only the groundbreaking lunar landing anniversary, but also the 50-year milestone for the Plantronics headset that Neil Armstrong was using when he said the famous words, ‘One small step for [a] man…’. We have always had an ethos of trying to make the impossible possible and the event gave us the opportunity to showcase our impressive heritage in tech-firsts.
What first made you have a career in technology?
It runs in the family, so maybe I didn’t have much of a choice! My grandfather was one of the first people to work on radar in the 1940s and my mother was an expert in data processing in the 1980s, which was fairly unusual at the time. When I was young, my parents purchased a Commodore64 for me – a console where you had to manually enter the code for your games as they didn’t load automatically. Once I got to grips with that, the rest was history.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
In management, it is very important to strike the right balance. I’m very focused on building high performance teams, but you can only do that by enabling individual team members to be their best. I genuinely believe that everyone, at every level, has an opportunity to make an impact at all levels of an organisation. We all do dishes, right?
What do you think has emerged as the technology trend of 2020, and why?
The biggest trend of 2020, without any doubt, has been the rapid acceleration of unified communications and cloud-based video – remote working moved leaps and bounds with everyone accepting it as ‘the’ way to stay connected. While not all jobs can be conducted at a desk, the main revelation to many, if not all of us, was that most types of work can be completed from any location.
We were catapulted into a hybrid working model where some of us get to go to an office of some sort when it’s safe and needed for the business. The sudden and urgent need to find new ways of connecting the hybrid workforce may have compromised the quality of interactions for some of us as not everyone was ready for remote work and may have had to settle for a ‘good enough’ solution that could claw into your productivity.
Audio is the backbone of all interactions but if you do not have a comfortable headset you trade off your personal health, in a way. Adding another layer to it – when the listeners can’t hear you properly, you potentially trade off your business deal and competitive edge both. The same logic applies to all video devices and work from home solutions – if they can’t hear or see you and if it isn’t easy, comfortable and intuitive to use, you may need to update or upgrade the technology you are using.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
Outside of work, my main focus is on my two kids – making sure I spend as much time with them as possible and helping them explore their extracurricular passions. Beyond that, flying drones is one of my favorite pastimes and I spend a lot of time working on my Land Rover Defender 90.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
This goes back to my managerial philosophy – I’d have learned much earlier in my career that you unlock the potential of teams by enabling their members. You get way more out of individuals that feel empowered to work at their best than you do if you try to take the workload away from them and take it upon yourself, which I was guilty of early on in my career.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in Europe?
Europe requires a diversified approach purely because of the number of countries, and therefore cultures and languages, within the region. You have to adapt your approach to meet the legal and regulatory demands of every country, negotiate the challenges of making your products available locally and make sure that you are delivering the message you want with the social nuances of a particular country in mind. It’s a hugely rewarding learning experience when you get it right, but there’s a complexity to doing so.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year, and how do you see these developing in the next twelve months?
The UC market tends to shift rapidly and that means our customers will need to adapt periodically to be able to enjoy the benefits of and also to maintain an agile workplace. In the current and unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic scenario, we need to yet again revisit the routines, measurements and protocols that we apply to our workforce so employee morale and ultimately our business productivity can flourish in the more flexible, working from home or at an office, type of hybrid working model. We have to reflect this change in the way we work as leadership teams too. In my role, I find myself being purposefully accessible to make up for the natural collaboration that otherwise would have happened when everyone is mostly at their offices. The key is to find the perfect balance.
What advice would you offer to someone aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Never chase a position. If you pick measurable, achievable goals, you will be motivated to reach ambitions that you feel are in your grasp. My personal goal is to retire by the time I’m 48; I’m 42 and I’m happy to say that I’m on track so far!Click below to share this article