The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Next up is Cloud Industry Executive of the Year finalist Vishal Gupta, who’s chief technology officer and vice president at Unisys. Here, he talks success, career turning points and other advice.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I believe the biggest impact a leader can make is to attract, develop and retain an exceptionally talented and motivated team. It is all about talent and the ability to inspire and motivate that talent to create exceptional outcomes for clients and that is what I am most proud of doing at Unisys.
To paraphrase Secretary Colin Powell, one of my favorite role-models, a talented, committed team that is built on the foundation of integrity is the ultimate force multiplier.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
I believe joining Cisco in 2006 was the biggest turning point or inflection point in my career as it gave me the opportunity and exposure to work for a truly global and high-growth technology company and an opportunity to learn from world class talent.
At Cisco, I had the opportunity to lead very large and global teams of over 600 professionals and also had an opportunity to be an expat and work in Asia Pacific and learn what it takes to expand in emerging markets and create differentiated solutions for them in various verticals.
My teams spanned India, South East Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States, and I experienced first-hand the creativity that is unleashed when diverse teams of people come together to solve problems and create new products.
What’s one key thing you learned from a failure you had?
As you scale an organization, it is less about hard work and focus on tasks and much more about creating a very talented team and collaborating closely with them to create a shared strategy that will create enormous value and win-win for the clients and the company.
When I went from leading 50 people team to teams of several hundred professionals, I learnt this lesson from an initial failure, which I took to heart in all my subsequent assignments. I now do my best to set an inspiring vision and goals and then equip my people with the right skills, attitude, motivation and tools to get the job done successfully.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
One of my favorite quotes is, “I met a manager, and I realized how important he is to the company. I met a leader, and I realized how important I am to the company.” I am proud of building a culture where the people in my teams are developed and rise to the occasion to bring solutions to market place at a great speed, and support clients when they need us most.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
There is no substitute to learning. Not a day goes in the tech industry without a new tool, framework, process crops up and it could challenge the existing norms. So, those who have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn have the highest chances of making it big in the industry.
Another key attribute is the ability to design think or provide world-class user experience in everything we offer. All aspects being the same, the solution with the most thoughtful user experience will take to adoption in the market place. So, my advice would be to repeat the cycle of learn, unlearn and relearn; and be among the best on user experience to do well in the career.