New Delhi, India | Jan 03, 2023 | HT Tech
Joyce Mullen, CEO of Insight, in conversation with HT Tech on Cloud Technology, recent acquisition of Hanu and need for women in leadership roles in the tech industry.
It has been two decades since technology has left the courtyards of the geeks and the academicians and entered the realm of the everyman. Today, technology affects everyone despite their gender, race, financial ability, cultural difference and so on. Yet, the technology that serves such a global demographic and, which has become a cornerstone of inclusion, is not free from its own prejudices. According to a report by Deloitte, women workers make up less than 33% of the total employee base for large tech companies. The gender divide in enterprise tech becomes even more striking when you take a look at the corporate leadership roles. A study by Entelo highlights that women account for only 10% of total executive positions. This also means a majority of women who start out in tech roles never make it to the top.
But while statistics paint a grim picture, reality is somewhat improving. Many tech companies have pledged to focus on their gender diversity and improve their inclusion policies. And among them, Insight, an Arizona-based Fortune 500 solution integrator company has been leading with example. In October 2020, the company hired Joyce Mullen, who was working with Dell for 21 years at that point, and appointed her as the global CEO.
In just a year since she took the position, the company’s net sales in North America increased by 14% taking it to $7.5 billion at a time the world was dealing with the pandemic. In addition to that, Mullen has also streamlined the operations, accelerated the company strategy and given a direction to its ‘solution integrator’ role.
And now, Mullen is looking at India. In June 2022, Insight acquired Hanu Software Solutions (Hanu), a privately held Microsoft Azure Expert Managed Services Provider operating in India. With so much happening around Insight, we at HT Tech had the chance to catch up with the mind behind these new initiatives. The discussion went over a variety of topics including transformation of technology, Insight’s position in the market, vision behind acquisition of Hanu and role of women in technology and the need to bring them in senior leadership positions.
On being a part of the tech industry for four decades
Mullen highlighted how a large part of technology in the 60s and 70s was just manually copy-pasting information from offline sources and bringing it to the digital front to build a database. Mullen reminisces being a part of an analytics team where the majority of the work was just to get the information in a unified system. Comparing it to today, she said, “Technology has come a long way from where it used to be. Today, cloud computing and analytics can achieve scale with speed and precision in a way that would be impossible to imagine a decade ago. Now, there is a shift towards optimization of tech stack for companies instead of building more processes. The next five years (for major companies) will be focused on making the most of the tools they already possess and finding the right way to build a streamlined system”.
On Insight and the new category of ‘solution integrator’
Insight specializes in offering end-to-end software solutions in a B2B space. A large part of the business model focuses on helping the clients achieve revenue growth, cost optimization, risk mitigation and more. Cloud technology forms the backbone of what Insight does, although it is not the only tech which is leveraged by the company.
During the conversation, Mullen described Insight as a solution integrator. She said, “Insight is a solution integrator. In today’s time, companies have understood what the digital infrastructure can do for their business. But now, there is a new challenge of optimization. Using digital technologies is not enough. It is also important to know how to cut costs while delivering outcomes in a fast, effective and streamlined way”.
Insight aims to do that for companies from the start to the end, creating a system where the goal is not only to offer the technology but also help in every step of the process to allow businesses to maximize their investment.
On acquiring Hanu and the vision behind it
Hanu is a Microsoft Azure-based platform that helps businesses achieve the full potential of cloud technology. Mullen explained, “Insight has a merger and acquisition based strategy. This is to help us in building capabilities in areas with a high-growth prospect such as cloud, data, AI, cybersecurity etc. Hanu is a fast-growing company in a market which is growing rapidly. It also helps shore up our cloud capabilities and experts in Azure migration. Their capability in India also allows us to build a strong presence in the region”.
Key technology trends since the Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic brought a technology influx for both consumers and businesses overnight. To cater to the needs in a digital environment, new trends emerged. Mullen explained, “One of the key trends that I noticed was that companies began trusting cloud technologies a lot more. The transformation from offline to online was always there but the scale suddenly grew exponentially. And just growing the scale was not enough. Optimization became an important part of business strategies. The idea was to get the highest outcome of the tech resources that exist within the company”.
Key bottlenecks in the industry and ways to tackle them
With a sharp increase in tech adoption, companies are also experiencing newer challenges. From effective management of the new tech stack to protecting it from bad actors, new responsibilities have emerged. Mullen highlighted, “We have seen that there is a much greater focus on cybersecurity. When the entire server and sensitive data is stored in Cloud, it is important to be able to protect it as well. Providing secure Cloud solutions is an important part of what we do. Another area is increasing efficiency is when companies want faster return on investment. This means that just scaling is not enough, it has to come with agility and has to lead to better outcomes for companies. Efficiency is the need of the hour”.
Vision for India
Mullen said, “We see India as one of the fastest growing markets. The plan is to identify and acquire high-performing companies and consolidate them in markets like these. We see abundance of talent in India and perceive it as an opportunity to expand Insight’s capabilities. But what we are looking for is the right talent to deepen our technical expertise in areas of Cloud, data, AI, cybersecurity, and edge.
Hiring in India at a time when tech layoffs are making headlines
In the past year, multiple companies including global corporations such as Facebook, Amazon and Twitter let go of a large number of employees in India due to the economic slowdown and falling revenue. At a time like this, Mullen plans to hire talent. She explains, “We look at this economic downturn as a cyclical event and it does not bother us. In fact, we see it as a big opportunity to shore up our capabilities with the right talent. Twitter’s loss is our gain”.
Women in senior leadership positions
Mullen has been in leadership roles for almost four decades and in her own space, has both witnessed and participated in the tech revolution. But is there a need to push women into senior leadership positions? According to Mullen, “There is a need to bring talented people with innovation into leadership roles. And there is as much talent in men as there is in women. So, there is definitely a need to have more women in these roles. Women also bring a differentiated perspective which can often be important for out-of-the-box solutions to problems. Thankfully, today’s situation is a lot better than the past and companies are realizing it. We, at Insight, have always tried to bring deserving women to leadership positions, and this is something that we will continue to do”.
Advice for women aspiring to lead companies one day
Reaching to the top of the corporate ladder is no easy feat. And Mullen has done this for a significant part of her career. As a piece of advice to women employees in tech company who want to move up the career ladder, she said, “The first thing I’d say is find a good partner. I was very lucky to have someone who was extremely supportive and encouraging towards my professional ambition and helped me in every step of the way. It is very essential to have a supportive environment to grow. And the second thing is, always be really good at what you do. If you are good at what you do, it will be impossible for anyone to stop you from reaching the top. But you have to learn to be better than everyone else around you”.