Nina was about 12 years old when she read a book titled, ‘A Woman of Substance,’ in which the protagonist, Emma Harte, made quite an impression on her. For unknown reasons, she felt strongly attached to the story of a self-made businesswoman. This combined fictional impression with her real-life experience of her self-reliant, self-sufficient and working mother became a natural part of her life path. She grew up as an only child in a single-parent household. She moved frequently attending various grammar schools, so often she had to restart the process of adapting to the new environment and meeting new friends.
She began working when she was 10 years old to earn money to buy nicer clothes that she saw on others from her community. Later, when she entered the high technology industry, she initially felt intimidated and lacking, she was surrounded by Silicon Valley’s “best and brightest” graduates from Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley and other top colleges across the country. Despite these early days, she worked to push these feelings away to focus her energy on becoming a successful and awarded female executive within the highly competitive technology industry.
Vast Experience in the Market
Nina has significant experience in several different enterprise organizations. She was the Senior Vice President of SAP’s Global Premier Customer Network (PCN). At SAP, she led both the PCN Center of Excellence and SAP’s Global Executive Advisory Board. Nina was also responsible for leading the creation and execution of Nike Technology strategy, planning and operations worldwide. Additionally, she has served as the Global Chief Operating Officer for the worldwide Customer Education organization, responsible for driving more than half a billion euros in global education software and services revenue.
Transforming Innovative Ideas into Reality
Nina Simosko currently serves as CEO and President of NTT Innovation Institute Inc. (NTT i³), the Silicon Valley-based innovation center for NTT Group, one of the world’s largest ICT companies. NTT i³ focuses on a full life-cycle approach to strategic innovation, working with established enterprise companies to evolve them into digitally-driven businesses. NTT i³ is committed to finding the most ambitious and game-changing ideas that may have been long hidden in R&D Labs around the world, and then taking them through a rigorous process of applied R&D and platform development.
Building a Culture that Supports Learning
With literally thousands of PhDs and Ph.D. candidates to bring onto NTT i³ teams, Nina personally doesn’t worry about the quality of code coming from her company. Much of her energy is focused on building a culture of innovation that naturally enables self-directed inquiry and learning among diverse team members. Over the years spent working in Silicon Valley, Nina has come to appreciate that innovation does not stop, can not stop and should not stop with the idea. When she talks about innovation to her team, to her customers and partners, she often times says that innovation is not about theater. It’s not about putting on a show. “When we innovate, we are making something real that has the potential to deliver significant change in the world and alter the lives of people in positive ways. True innovation is hard work, not magic, and it takes execution to make it real and sustainable..”
Applying R&D in the Technology Industry
Her experience has taught her that internal challenges are almost always tougher than external market-driven ones. Leading an organization that is a part of a global USD $122 billion entity with 800 plus operating companies around the world makes simply learning about people and their areas of interest and expertise into a formidable task To have any chance at successfully addressing this formidable challenge, she suggests there are two important ingredients that have nothing to do with the technology: time and relationship building. Her motto is that small incremental changes each week add up to significant advances at the end of a year.
Co-Existence of Personal and Professional Life
Nina doesn’t separate work and life, as she believes that life is a continuum of activities and experiences. She says, “Our lives consist of many things, all of which must be completed in the 24 hours per day limit. While there are clearly times where work-related responsibilities demand more of those 24 hours in any given day, there are also times where personal matters do as well.” As a manager, she has always adhered to a philosophy which empowers those around her to find the ‘right’ place on their respective life continuum. – and out focus on managing the outcome.
Nina’s Stance on Women’s Contribution in the Workplace
She doesn’t distinguish between men’s and women’s contribution to organizations. She says, “I personally don’t see a difference in the roles of women versus men in the business. Everyone is there to make their teams and their business successful.”
Even if she decided to start her career all over again, this CEO would not choose to do anything different. She has no regrets for being who she is – or where she has been. Everything that she has experienced has brought her to this point today. Nina says,“Changing anything in the past might change where I am today at NTT i³ and I love this opportunity. I am very fortunate to work with a high caliber of people aross all NTT global organizations. Everyone is amazing.”