Hello VOX Readers, I hope everyone is staying safe and well during the pandemic and various country lockdowns around the globe. Today, I’d like to introduce my latest employee interview with Lenny Alugas, Executive Vice President of Customer Success based in our Santa Clara, US office. During his interview, Lenny shares insights into why he chose a career in technology and the highlights of his career. He also shares insights into what it is like working at Veritas, how he manages and motivates his teams remotely during this pandemic, and retains a high level of customer success. Read Lenny’s interview below.
Zoe: Welcome Lenny, thank you for agreeing to participate in the #LifeAtVeritas blog series. What made you choose a career in technology?
Lenny: I really like to solve problems, something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. When I was younger, I also really enjoyed hands-on work and seeing those results. My father was a bricklayer, and it was so rewarding to work with him and see the results of our hard work. This was one of the factors that led to me getting my degree in mechanical engineering and ultimately going into the technology field. I’m a problem solver that likes to have fun while doing it.
Zoe: Lenny, you’ve had an illustrious career in the IT industry. What have been the highlights you’re most proud of?
Lenny: The top highlight I’ve been most proud of is building an e-commerce solution that allowed the Norton business to move from a third-party-managed solution to a Symantec-managed solution. This ended up saving Symantec $100 million annually. And it was a blast to run an e-commerce organization. We did many A/B and multi-variable testing where we changed the colors of buttons or structure on web pages to see what design elements delivered the best customer outcomes and drove revenue increases. There was the instant gratification of the testing, the changes we made, and driving big revenue. It was a blast!
Zoe: How do you define customer success at Veritas?
Lenny: I define customer success as organizing the greater company around delivering value to customers, helping maximize the value they get from their Veritas investments. It’s all about every department in Veritas understanding their role in driving this and orchestrating it logically. I love it when all teams work together to deliver the expected customer outcome when they use our products and solutions.
Zoe: Do you have any tips for our customers wishing to renew their partnership with us?
Lenny: My best tip is to work with us to help understand their desired outcomes and how we can measure success together. When it’s time for us to evaluate, we have a common scorecard, and we can celebrate together as we hit those goals. I’m a big proponent of success plans and sitting down together along the way, not just when it’s time to renew. Let’s document metrics and goals with milestones along the way. This eliminates surprises, as goals often change in our dynamic industry.
Zoe: In your opinion, what leadership traits make a good leader? And what’s your leadership style, and how has it changed during the pandemic?
Lenny: I think having and focusing on a critical few items you’re driving is so important. Let’s not get in the minutia, all the little things if they’re not critical. I also like to have a cadence and process to track these critical items – meetings, milestones, clarity around the goals, and actions. For the critical items, you can’t afford to drop them; they’re all important.
Transparency is also crucial for great leadership. It’s vital to me and my style. Let’s be honest with each other about what’s working and what’s not. Better to quickly fix what’s broken without having to spend too much time dissecting the situation.
Thirdly, which has been so important during the pandemic, you must have more quality touch points with people. No matter where in the world or at what time. We are all so far away now. I do feel that video conferencing has helped us to remain more attentive. Personally, I’ve been able to reduce the number and duration of meetings. Using the conferencing technology, we can focus better on the task at hand with less distraction. I love it.
Zoe: To some extent, we have been influenced by others in our personal and work lives. Who are your role models and influencers?
Lenny: My dad has been the biggest influence and role model for my life. As I mentioned, he was an entrepreneur and had a bricklaying company. I learned the value of hard work and dedication. At one point, when I was working with him, I’d lay 1,000 bricks a day. It was incredibly hard. And this was in New Orleans, where it was so hot and humid. I never wore a hat, and I had this big red afro, so my nickname was “Red.” But that’s a whole different story.
He also showed me the differences in how it felt to succeed versus fail. When he’d bid for work, sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t. Will you have income or not? I learned how hard and stressful it is to be responsible for myself and my family’s well-being. My dad also showed the importance of creating and managing relationships. He had to build relationships with the contractors to get those bids. He developed such loyalty.
He instilled a lot in me. I know that if you work hard and commit yourself to anything, school, work, you name it, you can be a best-in-class player.
Zoe: How do you define success? And how do you build successful teams across the globe?
Lenny: For me, success comes down to “did I achieve the specific metrics around a key goal?” I always have goals in mind, and the clearer you can be about articulating these goals, the easier it is to measure your success. I also think about how we did as a team. Are we challenging each other, are we having fun, did we get to the end goal together?
I love building global teams. It’s all about keeping in mind and ensuring you’re inclusive and communicative. It’s so easy to lose track of cultures and time zones. You must keep personal relationships strong and adjust your style to meet the needs of different cultures and languages. Focus on them, ask questions, and always be an active listener!
Zoe: What motivates you? And how do you motivate remote teams internationally? Especially in these uncertain times.
Lenny: I get very excited about solving hard problems. I like challenging projects that make you think differently. Let’s pull together those talented, diverse individuals for different perspectives.
Motivating teams everywhere is a lot of fun. I have a fundamental belief that everyone wants to do a good job and make a difference. My job is to enable them to win and do a great job. In both personal and work life, everyone wants to have a goal and mission. As a leader, I help them figure that out and help them get there - building self-driven, self-motivated organizations. It’s motivational, it’s fun, and it’s what drives an organization.
This philosophy applies to any time, even during a pandemic like we’re in.
Zoe: Lenny, why should people choose to work at Veritas?
Lenny: This is a great place to be if you like to make a difference. Problems that we solve in the industry are significant. And we do it for the most important organizations in the world. It’s thrilling!
We also have so many great people that have been here for so long. Many for over 20 years. We all get to learn from them; we’re so lucky. Their tenure shows how many people love it here. Strong people and strong technology.
We love to solve problems, and we learn every day. If you like to learn, this is the place to be!
Zoe: Lenny, what do you like to do in your free time?
Lenny: I still do a lot of construction work. I just completed a 10 ft round redwood deck. I’ve started teaching my son how to build, and it’s been a blast seeing him grow and learn. I have lots of fun working around the house, just building, and fixing here and there.
I also love to play basketball. I’ve been playing with the same group of guys for about 10 years now. I also must mention that I’m a huge Golden State Warriors fan.
Zoe: Finally, what technology can’t you live without?
Lenny: My hammer-drill combo tool is just the coolest thing ever. When I’m around the house using it, I walk around with it so proud. I have a bunch of battery-powered tools like this that are with me whenever I do any work. I do love great rechargeable battery-powered technology. This includes all the awesome new electric vehicles and where that industry is headed.
Thank you, Lenny, for taking the time to do this interview and giving us an insight into your leadership style and career. I agree with your comment that “we learn every day;" every day has learnings, which helps us change and grow as individuals.
So, if you enjoyed this Life at Veritas blog post with Lenny Alugas, then do stay tuned as there will be more interview-style posts from other people at Veritas. And if this has inspired you to join our team, check out our job vacancies on LinkedIn and apply here.
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