Any particularly successful organization dwells on constant change, a change which is productive and that comes with well thought out everyday decision making. Only the leader, who could be a CEO/President of an organization has the right to make these really big decisions. For Oleg Khaykin, President and CEO at Viavi Solutions, daily decisions are more “tactical” rather than being kept in the important” category. Oleg makes “important” decisions on a quarterly and semi-annual basis, which are generally related to changes or adjustments to the company’s strategy. Oleg’s typical daily decisions deal with helping to develop and close major revenue opportunities, resource/budget allocation, R&D and operational execution management, and personnel issues. A company equally depends on the CEO’s understanding that his or her role still represents less than 10% of the total puzzle. Much depends on them, but it is never about them.
In order to inspire the organization to move forward, Oleg works to ensure that everything his team does is aligned with a well communicated and adopted strategy.
Making a Career Out of His Interest
Oleg has considerable interest in high tech. He is moved by its constantly changing market environment, frequent disruptive innovations, new problems to solve every day, and the opportunities to work with the smartest people in the world. Earlier, Oleg was working with the Boston Consulting Group, where he got to work across many different industries worldwide. Given his special interest in high tech, Oleg enjoyed working in this field. This later led him to make a career working on it, after he left consulting.
A Remarkable Depth of Experience
Oleg Khaykin joined Viavi in February 2016 as President and CEO, bringing more than 28 years of industry experience to Viavi. Prior to joining Viavi, Oleg was a Senior Advisor with Silver Lake Partners. Before that, Oleg was President and CEO of International Rectifier from 2008 until its acquisition by Infineon AG in January 2015. He has also served as Chief Operating Officer of Amkor Technology and Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at Conexant Systems.
He holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering with honors from Carnegie-Mellon University.
Offering Exceptional Performance-Based Products
Viavi was created as a result of a split of JDS Uniphase. The company is composed of two major businesses, the Test and Network Management products for Telecom and Datacom networks and the Optical Security and Performance Products (OSP) for anticounterfeiting and high performance imaging applications. Both core businesses are fairly mature, slow-growth segments. Yet, within each segment, there are adjacent growth opportunities. Viavi’s strategy is to drive efficiency and market share gain in mature product segments and selectively invest in growth applications where they have distinct market or technology advantage. The company is a global provider of network test, monitoring and assurance solutions to communications service providers, enterprises and their ecosystems. These solutions deliver end-to-end visibility across physical,virtual and hybrid networks, enabling customers to optimize connectivity, quality of experience and profitability. Viavi is also a leader in high performance thin film optical coatings, providing light management solutions to anti-counterfeiting, consumer electronics, automotive, defense and instrumentation markets.
As a sign of investor confidence, Viavi’s stock price has risen from $5.03 on the day that Oleg was announced as CEO (February 2, 2016), to $11.33 as of the close of trading on May 5, 2017, or a 125% increase.
Providing The Most Comprehensive Range of Services
Viavi has the most comprehensive range of network test, activation and assurance instruments of any vendor, helping customers address challenges across mobile, wireline, edge, core, physical, virtual, cloud and hybrid networks. The firm is uniquely positioned to help communication service providers—mobile, cable, telco— address revolutionary network change that is ongoing across multiple technologies. Viavi is also developing unique optical technologies to support emerging applications such as 3D sensing in smartphones, advanced driver assistance systems in cars, and sensors for smart cities.
Every leader is an inspiration to someone; at the same time every leader is inspired by someone. For Oleg that inspiration came from his parents, whom he considers to be his role models. From his early childhood, Oleg’s parents instilled in him all the basic values that have thus far defined his success – hard work, focus, competitiveness, informed risk taking, and the respect for people from all walks of life. Character and values defines a leader and rules their every decision, every move and every strategy. To become a successful business person you inherit some of these qualities.
Walk the Walk
Oleg believes that a leader needs to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”. Too many CEOs repeat the mechanical mantras that they themselves fail to follow. Oleg says, “You have to respect your employees’ intelligence and be frank and honest with them and never ask of them more than you are prepared to give yourself.” To impart these values to others, Oleg makes sure that his direct reports do the same and promote these values in all interactions within the company.
Leadership: Mission, Core Values and Vision
For any organization, mission, core values and vision are the pillars of leadership, and Viavi is no exception. As a company that has been doing business for nearly 100 years, Viavi’s core values ensure that they never fail to maintain a track record of technology innovation and excellence regardless of timeframe. “But any timeframe is made of the same seconds, hours, days or years as any other, so a strong mission statement is essential to meeting objectives to allow the organization to cross a set finish line. And once you cross that finish line, you can look ahead toward a vision of the future, requiring an organization to build on its collective experience, analyze its ever-changing market environment, and chart its course for long-term success,” says Oleg.
Staying Close to the Customers
Every leader has to go through a few roadblocks before triumph and with the struggle comes a few mistakes. Oleg asserts, “I have seen leaders make frequent mistakes. One is to allow their organizations to become slaves to processes, following them blindly regardless of outcome. Another is to adopt “corporate speak,” and ultimately fail to communicate clearly and set expectations. And lastly, to continue for too long to follow a strategy, even though it is not profitable, because of the mistaken belief that the next marginal dollar spent will turn things around. There is no silver bullet to right these wrongs, but I would always advise that leaders stay close to their customers so they maintain a sense of reality in the marketplace.”
The Ability to Execute
Talking of what a great leader possesses, Oleg mentions it is the ability to formulate a sustainable long-term strategy and structure and manage near-term execution that leads to the end goal. In other words, a good leader needs to be comfortable at both 10,000 ft and 1,000 ft levels.
Nowadays, the decision time constants are getting shorter. Fifty years ago, whatever worked last year, was likely to work the next and the next year. Today, that parable no longer holds true. To be successful, today’s leaders need to be much more flexible and adaptable to the changing competitive environment than their predecessors.
Copy It With Pride
To grow and evolve himself, Oleg is always open to new ideas or methods. He says, “If I see a successful practice,style, or behavior, I ‘copy it with pride.’ Unless you are open to new ideas or ways of doing things, you will stop improving yourself.”
He further advises, not to be afraid to make mistakes, but learn quickly from them and adapt. It’s important to continuously evolve as a leader by learning from others and “copy with pride.”
The network test and measurement industry is going through a very challenging time, as Viavi’s customers strive to evolve their networks to deliver more bandwidth to end users, manage quality of experience, and roll out new business models to maintain revenue growth in a saturated marketplace. Viavi Solutions has been in business for nearly 100 years; so Job #1 for them is to secure the financial position so they can serve customers for the next 100 years. The team has made good progress in meeting or exceeding investor expectations, resulting in their stock doubling in value in one year.
While, Job #2 for the team is to work with the blue-chip customer base – including the world’s leading telecommunications operators on the network test and assurance side, and the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, car companies, and sensor developers on the optical side – to ensure that the company’s solutions meet customer needs and drive mutual market and financial success.