On the lighter side of things, we ask the industry experts what makes them tick. Intelligent CIO speaks to Jason Wells, VP and GM EMEA at Cradlepoint.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Personally, fathering two children. Professionally, setting up the EMEA-geo for a global SD-WAN vendor from scratch and taking it to a multi-million dollar business unit inside of three quarters. Seeing my team fulfil their potential, crush their goals and over achieve gives me a huge sense of achievement, particularly when we are working towards challenging objectives.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I have not always been in the industry. In the early 1990s you would have found me working as a resort representative for Club 18-30, or as a Butlins Red Coat. I stumbled upon my ability to sell in the mid-90s by accident while selling ‘holiday-ownership’ properties in the Mediterranean. Upon returning home, I received some extremely wise advice that set me on the path to where I am today – IT and technology is where I should focus my future. I took this advice on board and luckily, in 1999, a small VAR took a chance on me and I became immersed in the IT/network security industry. Very soon I was working on projects in areas as diverse as education, finance, retail and the MOD.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
Everyone is under a huge amount of pressure to succeed. Over-achieving against ever expanding quota numbers and managing our partner/customer environment is complex and challenging. My philosophy is to hire really smart people and give them clear direction. Most importantly, I believe you need to empower your team to define their own path to success and constantly work to help them achieve this. If your team is ambitious and successful, then you have done your job.
What do you think will emerge as the technology trend of 2019 and why?
I think 2019 is the year we will really see the Wireless Internet becoming the primary connectivity for businesses. Research suggests adoption of LTE by businesses is poised to overtake fixed-line options – such as T1 connectivity – and with Gigabit LTE available today and 5G on the horizon, many more businesses will be willing to embrace ‘cutting the cord’ as they start their pathway to 5G.
This is because enterprise networks are evolving fast. Branch, mobile and IoT edge-networks are undergoing dramatic change and pushing traditional enterprise WANs to breaking point. Many organisations need to manage complex branch sites, data-driven vehicle fleets and mobile command centres, a vast array of IoT and M2M use cases and everything in between. Businesses are deploying a wide variety of wireless WAN solutions to address their growing agility, mobility and bandwidth needs. With the promise of maximum mobility, lower costs and fast deployment, LTE will make some significant strides this year.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
We’ll see more businesses increasing their investment in LTE in the deployment of WAN solutions over the next few years. The reliability, performance, flexibility and scalability of wireless broadband is clearly driving enterprises to deploy 4G LTE as a trusted WAN source. We’re already seeing LTE being used to connect a wide variety of end points – everything from fixed offices and healthcare clinics to mobile command centres, public transport buses, police cars and service trucks.
It’s also proving the link of choice for connecting devices such as sensors and CCTV cameras – no matter how remotely these are located. Today there are nearly nine billion wireless connections worldwide. Gartner forecasts that 14.2 billion connected ‘things’ will be in use this year and that that total will accelerate further, to 25 billion by 2021. As we move along the pathway to 5G connectivity, the Wireless Internet will begin to change all our worlds beyond recognition.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside of the office?
Spending time with my kids is my number one priority. Looking back at my career, if there is one thing I would have done differently it’s taking more time out and ensuring I focused on my work/life balance. I missed far too much of my children growing up, so whenever possible I like to take time out with them now. Having said that, I also like to ride my motorcycle. If I can get away from the office for a decent amount of time I also enjoy scuba diving.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
To start my sales career earlier in IT.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies?
The pressures are the same, but the customer buying patterns and cultures – country-to-country – are hugely different.
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?
The last 12 months have seen a breakdown of the former team and the rebuilding of a new one. We now have a solid team in place ready to take us forward and exceed our goals and expectations. I see us moving into growth and expansion as we progress.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain c-level position in your industry?
Be transparent with your peers and reports. Take those along with you who have helped you climb the ladder. Don’t be arrogant enough to think you made it without good people around you supporting you to achieve success.