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3 Quick Questions with .NEXT Speaker John McAdam

John McAdam has served as a member of the board of directors at Nutanix since 2015. He also currently serves on the board of F5 Networks, the company for which he was president and CEO from 2000 to 2017. Under his leadership, F5’s annual revenue grew from $100 million to $2 billion. Prior to F5 he was GM of IBM’s web server sales business, and president and COO of Sequent Computer Systems. He also happens to be a featured speaker at our upcoming .NEXT Conference in Nice.

We caught up with John to ask a few questions about leadership, today’s most important IT conversations, and one of his favorite foods.

Quickly explain your concept of “leadership in the moment.” Why is adaptability a particularly important topic for leaders now?

We’ve all heard it said: The only constant is change. Businesses must adapt to market fluctuations to remain relevant. And tone from the top is key. Obviously there are top-down messages that should not change, like the importance of integrity, customer satisfaction, innovation, etc, but leadership does require flexibility when necessary.

During the course of company growth you may find yourself in the “stability and build” phase where patience and coaching are critical. There could well be times when things need fixing. You may even be fighting for survival during an economic crisis. The “survival” phase creates the need for quick action, probable change, and sometimes very tough decisions.

You hopefully will also find yourself in a very fast “growth” phase. This can be great fun, extremely motivating, and requires strong communication from leaders to inspire the organization to greater things. The leader must also make sure the company culture is not being undermined during this phase in areas such as hiring. Plain and simple: no compromise on culture ever!

As a board member of both private and public companies throughout your career, what advice do you have for IT leaders who might also want to serve on a board in the future?

Go for it! I resisted going on boards for several years as I felt that my total focus should be on my current business activities. I underestimated the value and experience you gain from being on a board. When not bogged down with day to day issues, you can take a longer and more strategic view of the business. You get to see how your peers execute and hear the viewpoints of other board members on a range of topics including strategy, operations, and governance. I really believe that joining a board makes you a better executive.

What discussions are you interested in having at .NEXT Europe? Any particular topics that you consider to be the hot IT topics now?

The tech industry is going through massive changes right now, introducing a host of new issues to address: the widespread introduction of public & hybrid cloud architecture; the paramount importance of application and data security; global compliance issues; the explosion in mobile applications; customer buying patterns changing rapidly with SaaS and subscription models; hardware commoditization; DevOps and agility…there is no shortage of hot topics!

Bonus question because we just have to know: Is haggis worth trying?

I cannot believe I have to answer this question. Haggis is awesome and was my staple diet as a student at Glasgow University.

Hear more from John McAdam at .NEXT this November in Nice, France! Visit www.nutanix.com/next to register today.

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