Thursday June 4, 2020

Leaders’ questions and answers

Emmet Ryan is back with six big questions for six tech experts

Emmet Ryan

Technology Correspondent

10th May, 2020
Emmet Ryan is back with six big questions for six tech experts

1. How are you finding working remotely?

2. Which tech leader inspires you?

3. Do you support Covid-19 contact tracing apps?

4. What do you do to keep up productivity?

5. What do you do to relax?

6. What app could you not live without?

Maeve Culloty, managing director, HPE Ireland

1. With each passing week a new aspect of working from home strikes me. As a leader, it is critical that you make dedicated and consistent time to engage with your team. You can’t afford to let one-to-ones slip, and you have to recognise that you have to schedule time and not leave it to chance to engage with people.

Common feedback from the team is that they have never been busier, and I think that is due to managing an increased level of scheduled calls and follow-up, which may have happened a little more informally before.

2. Outside of HPE, I think Satya Nadella is doing a wonderful job at Microsoft. He put culture first, and went to the heart of the company to change the way things are being done. I really like the way he communicates and for sure he is an inspiring leader.

3. There have been varying degrees of take up of these apps across the different countries battling Covid-19. I absolutely get behind the merits of one being deployed, but the area of data security and privacy would be my biggest concern.

I see some of these services deployed very quickly without due regard to where the data is stored and with whom it is shared

4. I set out what I want to get done each quarter and ensure my weekly plan matches my quarterly goals. This way, I prioritise my meetings, email and general activity around achieving these goals.

I hold myself accountable at the beginning of each week and the end of each to what I have and haven’t done, and repeat the following week.

5. HPE gave all employees free unlimited access to Headspace. My new nightly routine with my daughter Siún before she sleeps is ten minutes of Headspace.

6. My exercise routine is made pleasurable with podcasts – at the same time.

Derek Cullen, sales director at Enterprise Solutions

1. I have always worked remotely to some extent as it’s a core part of what my business does. It has definitely been an adjustment to manage a business remotely full time, but thankfully with the industry we are in, the ability to just pick up and work remotely immediately was seamless.

2. PJ Hough – Citrix executive vice president and chief product officer of Citrix. Originally from Tipperary, PJ worked for Microsoft then moved to Citrix.

His drive and determination to make the workplace the best it can be, constantly empowering employees to work from anywhere on any device through innovative, new technology solutions is inspiring.

3. If the app can function securely with the correct data protection policies and laws followed, giving people the option to opt in, then it could work.

4. I keep a routine during working hours in a dedicated work space, to try to mimic office protocol as much as possible. Communicating with my team via video calls, morning meetings and emails helps to ensure we are all working at being as productive as possible.

5. At the moment, relaxing for me is about switching off. Whether that is going out for a walk on a fine day, having a nice meal with my family or getting in any TV time I can manage – with a household of teenagers on lockdown, it’s not easy.

6. Citrix Workspace. I am constantly on the move travelling or going to meetings and it allows me to keep in touch with my clients and my team, as well as the ability to access all my apps and desktop regardless of where I am or the device I am using.

Siobhán Smith, head of marketing, Expleo Ireland

1. Surprisingly well, thanks to the technology that keeps me connected. While I miss meeting family, friends and colleagues in person, I’m finding lots of positives too – like my daily swim in the sea!

2. Bill Gates. He’s an expert at combining two of my greatest passions; philanthropy and innovation.

3. Absolutely. We need to fully leverage the latest technology developments to flatten the curve and be ready for any future waves too.

4. The trick for me is to make the most of the hours outside of work so there is a clear division. This allows me to focus on other important things like exercise, hobbies and socialising.

5. I have really taken to yoga. Expleo provides live virtual yoga classes and they are great for relaxing.

6. The app of the moment for me is Kahoot. Like many, virtual quizzes have become a big part of my weekend. It removes any hassles and makes them more fun and interactive.

Niamh McKenna, co-founder of ChangeX

1. Relatively well, given the circumstances. ChangeX already operated about 40 per cent remotely. It’s been a bit chaotic but we’re a small, adaptive team and we’re continuing to refine how we work and support each other along the way.

2. Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code. I think her work on building diversity in tech, particularly in the US, will have a huge impact on the industry and I find her ‘brave, not perfect’ message an important one, both in education and leadership.

3. Yes. There are some genuine challenges to ensuring wide-scale adoption and effective implementation, but it feels critical that we solve them quickly, alongside building scale and efficiency of testing.

4. I find exercise, particularly during lockdown, has been key to my productivity.

5. Read a book or listen to a podcast accompanied by a glass of red wine.

6. Spotify.

Eoin Hayes, founder of Cantillon Labs

1. I used to travel a lot for work, so I’m used to working anywhere. Investing in a new home office set-up and a new routine has helped, though.

2. I spend my day being inspired by the incredible founders and chief executives that are my clients, honestly. I also admire lesser-known names that have single-handedly changed the industry: Kara Swisher, Bill Campbell, Margrethe Vestager and Don Valentine.

3. With reservation. Tech can and should be part of protecting public health, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of our civil liberties, as raised by the Irish Council of Civil Liberties and others.

4. Noise-cancelling headphones and ruthless prioritisation.

5. I’m not a gamer by any means, but I’ve been playing a good bit of Battlefront II recently to unwind. I’m also lucky to live within two kilometres of three major parks, a beach and two waterways for walks and runs.

6. Spotify. Hands down.

Shane Doyle, lead designer, Threefold Digital

1. We're more productive than ever. It requires more effort for us to share what we're working on, but so far, so good.

We've always used Zoom for our daily stand-ups, but we've added a few more tools to make us more efficient such as using Miro for running remote workshops. And now we use Loom to create video messages, and it is more efficient than typing long emails.

2. I'm a fan of the book ReWork, so it has to be Jason Fried. I love his minimalist approach to problem-solving and his no-nonsense attitude to running tech companies.

3. If the app can help save lives, then I support using it. I choose saving lives over privacy concerns.

4. I head outside for a short walk. That way, when I get back, I always feel refreshed and ready to go again. As a team, we have our weekly lunch and happy hour (at home) over Zoom now, but it is still a fun way to chat and catch up with everyone.

5. I do quite a bit of vegetable gardening, although it involves a bit of work, it is very relaxing and a great way to spend some quiet time with just your thoughts.

6. YouTube, I use it for everything from cooking tips to watching clips of Key & Peele, right up to watching TED talks.

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