Get to Know: Woody Sessoms, Chief Business Officer, Graphiant

Get to Know: Woody Sessoms, Chief Business Officer, Graphiant

Woody Sessoms, Chief Business Officer, Graphiant

When Woody Sessoms retired from the tech scene ‘wild horses’ weren’t going to get him back in the saddle.

But those horses picked up the pace – leading him to Graphiant Networks.

Woody’s now Graphiant’s Chief Business Officer at Graphiant, responsible for leading business development and strategic partnerships.

Woody spent 25 years at Cisco Systems, serving in various global leadership positions. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Cisco’s Global Service Provider Business. Prior to that, he was responsible for Cisco’s Global Enterprise Business. These responsibilities, he says, gave him a deep understanding of worldwide people, cultures and practices. Before Cisco, Woody spent time at Burlington Industries, Rolm, IBM, and Siemens.

What first made you think of a career in technology?

I saw the amazing productivity and differentiation technology was driving in the workplace and I wanted to be a part of this revolution that was happening. This was right at the beginning of mini and personal computing.

You retired four years ago; what compelled you to jump back into the workforce?

When I retired, I didn’t really know what would come next. But I did know it wouldn’t be a C-level role in another tech start-up. After a long career of helping companies like Cisco change the world, I had “been there, done that.” It would take wild horses for me to change my mind. And then, I was introduced to Graphiant Networks.

I was working as an advisor to Graphiant and began to see all of the positive disruptions that Graphiant could enable. I had never seen a solution with so much promise in driving both top-line revenue for SPs and cost out for SPs and Enterprise. I also felt that Graphiant’s business model would thrive in today’s market.

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

AI gets a lot of press, and deservedly so, but it gets back to what can impact your business, what can differentiate you in your marketplace and what determines the winners. It’s all about making people money, saving them money and securing their data and brand.

As Chief Business Officer, what are your key initiatives at Graphiant?

Grow, grow, grow. We have a great value proposition. We have to get it out in the market as quickly as possible so we can get to scale.

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

The middle mile is failing and needs replacement. In the past five years we’ve seen the modern business network change dramatically. Enterprises now have to make tens of thousands of connects – to enterprise resources, edge networks, multiple clouds, partners and customers.

They need a middle-mile as robust as MPLS has always been (fast, secure, reliable), but far more agile (provision new connections in minutes, not weeks or months.

SDWAN was supposed to fix this, but since SDWAN overlays the vast digital wilderness of the public Internet, it requires the enterprise to set-up tunnels for every connection. In today’s complex, massive business networks, this has killed SDWAN’s agility.

We’re seeing a rethinking of the middle-mile happening as we speak. We’ve even seen something previously unthinkable – delivering the middle-mile As-a-Service.

What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in North America?

One of the primary challenges is talent acquisition and retention. With the rapid pace of technological advancement, there’s a high demand for skilled professionals who are knowledgeable about the latest technologies. However, finding such individuals can be difficult due to the competitive nature of the tech industry and the global shortage of tech talent. Even when you find the right people, retaining them can also pose a challenge due to the high turnover rates in the tech sector.

You can never have enough smart, enthusiastic people focused on customer success. For me, great people can overcome any barriers. Finding, developing and retaining talent can be challenging.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a senior management position in your industry?

Play the long game. Do what is right for the customer, employees, and shareholders. If you play the game correctly and follow the path of a servant leader, you will do well.

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