In an interview with Insights Success, Dr. Silvia Veronese, Vice President of Global Customer Success at Guavus, a Thales company, shares her insights on leadership and how her organization has collaborated closely with customers to make successful digital business transformations using Guavus AI-driven big data analytics.
Silvia is the model for constantly exploring new horizons and unhesitantly stepping outside one’s comfort zone while always keeping the customer top-of-mind in every decision. Considering her outstanding accomplishments and influential traits, Insights Success recognizes Silvia as one of the most inspirational women of 2018.
Below are highlights from our interview with Silvia:
Give a brief overview of your background as an entrepreneur.
I’m a 25-year veteran in the software industry and have focused a large part of my career on analytics, data modeling, machine learning, and big data. At Guavus, I’m responsible for the successful adoption of Guavus technologies’ driving innovation and transformation in the largest big data environments in the world. I have extensive experience in big data, analytics, algorithmic modeling, security, information management and governance in both enterprise and service provider markets.
Prior to Guavus, I pioneered the function of customer success at HP and HPE for a market of more than 40,000 customers and partners. I was a co-founder of several startups in data analytics, machine learning, Internet traffic modeling, and high-frequency trading. And early in my career at IBM, I worked on the team that designed the first parallel shared memory computer.
I spent the first half of my career in academia as a professor of Mathematics at the University of Utah, teaching and doing research in high-performance computing and nonlinear dynamical modeling. I’ve published several articles in the areas of mathematical modeling, biomedical engineering, and network and traffic flow analysis. I have a doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Pavia, Italy, an MBA in Management of Technologies from the University of Utah, and completed my post-graduate studies at M.I.T.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
In a time when social media is king, a personal face-to-face relationship with a customer goes a long way. Statistics tell us that customers are 80% more likely to do business again with a vendor who has had a close relationship with the customer during the entire sales cycle, from the sale to the install. It is easy to forget an email, but harder to forget a person, especially one who has made an impression. I am a strong believer in speaking engagements as a way to appeal to a larger group and establish oneself as a leader. My strategy is also very customer-centric. I strongly believe that all organizations should operate with a model which is based on customer success, and each employee must be a customer advocate. This is a core fundamental axiom of Guavus which is instantiated internally in the company by having a dedicated team of people whose mission is to be a strong customer advocate and to drive the design of the offerings based on continuous customer feedback.
Describe some of the vital attributes that every leader should possess.
Clarity and Focus: A leader needs to be clear and concise at all times—the team needs to be clear on the vision and what needs to be done.
Decisiveness: Once they have made up their mind, they don’t hesitate to commit – it’s all hands on deck.
Courage: A leader needs to commit and deliver on their promises. A leader needs to be consistent in their messaging and generate enthusiasm. Fix the breakdowns and show how it is done.
Passion: A good leader must be passionate yet realistic in expectations.
Humility: A leader needs to give credit to the team and develop people.
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle the competition in the market?
Dissect the success of any fast-growing, innovative company and you will see the same pattern over and over. Innovators make choices the competition won’t follow. Customers nowadays have a multitude of options when choosing technology. What my customers want is a technology that makes their lives easier and a product that will make them successful. This can only be achieved by a combination of vision, engineering, and great support and services. Quite often the competition stops early in the relationship and highly neglects the long-term health of a customer.
What according to you, are the frequent challenges faced by women leaders in the workplace and what are the ways to tackle them?
The high tech industry is still a male-dominated industry and probably will remain that way for quite some time. To get to a senior position, women must learn to compete for the corner office, using attributes that are not innate to their gender. Most women are naturally risk-averse and they prefer teamwork and partnerships over individuality. As women look for the benefits of the whole as opposed to the individual, they tend to be poor individual negotiators, an obstacle that over time limits our options and slowly makes us fall behind. For this, we must continue to train ourselves and strengthen the areas of our personality that are naturally recessive. Women must build healthy relationships with their advocates, create a strong personal brand, position themselves as experts in their field, and communicate confidently.
What were the primal challenges and roadblocks you faced during the initial phase of your career?
As somebody who was not born in the United States, during the initial phases of my career everything was new and had to be learned. It took a while to build the right network and relationships. What has assumed as a cultural norm was not exactly a standard for me. Yet, I was fortunate enough to find a multicultural work environment that did not differentiate based on gender but rather promoted teamwork and collaboration. Although it was hard at the beginning, a new world in every sense, I never felt discouraged. My passion and tenacity for success overcame the everyday obstacles.
Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are your future goals?
My entire career has always revolved around science and technology. I do not see myself deviating drastically from these areas in the near future. I am fascinated by the process of discovering, creating and building something new, and ultimately seeing it being used by our customers. I am also very passionate about the arts, which I believe are neglected and not supported enough in this country. Ultimately, I’d love to work on something that incorporates both.
What is your advice for budding tech enthusiasts?
Truly understand what you are passionate about. Listen to what truly interests you. Without passion, anything you do will become a burden at some point.