On the lighter side of things, we ask Surya Varanasi, CTO of StorCentric, what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Many achievements come to mind. Leading the engineering team that developed the first 4G FiberFiber Channel chip in the industry within 12 months was memorable. The chip was successful on the first pass and placed Brocade on the path to being the undisputed leader in FiberFiber Channel switching technology.
Most recently at StorCentric, we introduced a robust anti-ransomware solution with the Nexsan Unbreakable Backup. We had all the pieces to address the growing ransomware threats in the market and were able to quickly and efficiently provide a layered defense strategy with the Unity and Assureon products to create an immutable, unbreakable backup solution.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
I have always been interested in technology, how technology can be used for good, and how dramatically it can change the world. I always knew I wanted to study engineering as the discipline addresses real word problems, and the pace of change in technology holds the promise of leaving a lasting impact.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
I value a democratic leadership philosophy; this allows for diverse skills and ideas to take shape and ultimately create an environment in which to make informed decisions. Following this philosophy, we manage long-term goals as a larger team and then de-centralize into smaller teams to set intermediate-term objectives that align to the long term-goals.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Cybersecurity and ransomware threats have spiked significantly during the Covid era, and this threat will continue to intensify as bad actors find more sophisticated ways to enhance their tactics. Staying ahead of these tactics and helping our customers retain control of their data will always remain top of mind.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
My mantra has always been to solve as many problems as you can every day at the office. Personally, making forward progress has always been a great way to reduce stress at the office. Once this task is completed, I like to engage in daily physical activities such as running and hiking. My ideal activity during time off would be scuba diving while exploring new underwater environments.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
I started graduate school to start my MS degree right after finishing my undergraduate schooling. Perhaps if I had worked before applying to graduate school, I would have more quickly determined the type of work I wanted to focus on based on the experience.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Apart from protecting customer data against ransomware attacks, the ability to improve visibility and logging to help customers understand the nature and source of the threat needs investment. This investment will ultimately provide timely and actionable information to detect risks and threats before they happen; as well as to identify and allow us to take appropriate action, in a timely fashion once they do.
What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in North America?
North America is at the forefront of technological advancements. It can therefore be a challenge to convince sophisticated customers that they might have to do even more to protect their data against internal and external threats.
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?
More and more customers have been engaging with StorCentric in a consultative role. It’s not just about buying a product. A collaborative approach needs to be taken to ensure the ideal solution is architected for them.
What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Learn about the challenges in the industry. Without truly understanding the evolving challenges one will not be able to provide lasting solutions. Describe products and services in the simplest way possible to customers. I have seen many missed opportunities in my career when technology solutions were presented in a way that left customers more confused and perplexed, then when they started. Listen closely to and share customer feedback broadly across your organization. At the C-level one can become far removed from the customer, it is important to stay close, so you truly understand what they are asking for. Lastly, make sure you act and solve problems every day.Click below to share this article