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Five minutes with… Adrian Pickering, vice president MEA at Juniper Networks

Five minutes with… Adrian Pickering, vice president MEA at Juniper Networks

The regional growth of investment in technology is benefitting Juniper, says Pickering

How has 2015 been so far for Juniper Middle East?

It’s positive. The year so far has been very buoyant across the Gulf.

New technologies announced at Juniper’s Innovation Showcase earlier this year have been well received by our customers and partners. We’ve seen solid, significant growth and Juniper is looking to have a successful 2015.

Which segments within your industry are showing the strongest growth?

The regional rate of investment in technology is healthy across all of our verticals – including telecoms, enterprise and public sector. Juniper is working closely with governmental entities, aviation, education, finance and utility sectors to ensure these businesses are able to cope with the increasing pressures placed on their IT use.

In addition, telecoms operators in the region need to cope with the volume of IP traffic growth across their fixed and mobile broadband networks and Juniper is working with virtually all of the major players to help them with this challenge.

What are the biggest challenges that you currently face?

When speaking with customers in the region, one constant challenge remains sourcing the right IT talent in the market and retaining these skills.

To address this challenge, Juniper Networks has developed an Academic Alliance programme in partnership with local educational boards in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Last year, 18 graduates passed out from Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia and I was able to offer full time positions to every graduate.

Over time the business is hoping to expand the programme to include more new universities in the region. The Middle East is definitely getting the approach right to nurturing the skills required but in the interim, we need to be patient and tap talent from overseas to help fill some of the gaps.

With the technology sector growing and more players entering the region, how do you stand out?

Juniper is the only ‘pure play’ IP networking company. We have always focused on our core technologies of routing, switching and security and have not delved into adjacent technologies like telephones, video screens or low-end consumer devices. Our strategy is to deliver the most scalable, reliable, secure and cost-effective networks.

Our strategy in the Middle East – as elsewhere – will see us continue to focus on customers and partners who view these network attributes as fundamental to their business success.

Will you be hiring in the next six months?

We’re always looking to identify new talent in the region.

What’s your leadership style?

Participative and hands on. I like to think that I’m known for rolling my sleeves up and getting on with the job. A leader of a business shouldn’t sit behind glass, especially in this part of the world where business is conducted face to face, not via email.

It’s important for me to build and lead a talented team, not just pull rank and manage subordinates. There are so many different personalities found in a workforce, it’s my job to get the most out of everyone. I’m incredibly passionate about my job and I want this to rub off on all of my team.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Lead by example, a genuine leader should “walk-the-walk” and consequently I wouldn’t expect any member of my team to commit to doing something that I wasn’t prepared to do myself. During my junior years, I had a number of fantastic mentors and leaders I still draw on today. It really helps to admire your leader and want to do a good job for someone, day in and day out. I have purposely built a solid team around me that I trust and respect, this helps me perform at my best and work closely with my team to drive results, rather than try to work to my own agenda – can be a pitfall for many managers.

Outside of leadership skills, it’s hugely important that a manager in any of today’s IT companies keep up to date with the sheer number and scale of innovations driven by technology developments. I strongly believe that I cannot lead a technology business in such an energised place as the Middle East and ‘bury my head in the sand’ when it comes to the huge pace of change all around us, driven from IT innovation. I need to understand and challenge the technology trends head on to drive my business forward in today’s disruptive and exciting world.

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