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7 Questions with Ray Octaviano
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7 Questions with Ray Octaviano
Name: Ray Octaviano
Current title: VP and Head of Business Development for North American Mobile Operators
Current organisation: IDEMIA
Began my career with IBM in the sustaining engineering group supporting ThinkPad notebook computers. This role involved working with the largest IBM customers to resolve critical issues. Completed IBM’s Leadership Training program and worked with various teams developing patents for filing. Transitioned to the Technology Strategy team in charge of all wireless technologies incorporated into notebook computers. Was responsible for working with the global mobile operators to certify the first notebook computers that incorporated cellular radios through the acquisition of the PC division by Lenovo. After becoming acquainted with the telecom space, I moved to Option NV, a maker of cellular PC card, USB stick, and M2M routers. At Option, I was a part of the sales team and gradually transitioned from technical roles to commercial roles. In joining IDEMIA, I continued in commercial roles that leveraged the large portfolio of technologies to develop new business. At both Option and IDEMIA, my roles within the regional sales team allowed me to interact with key executives with global responsibilities.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Large enterprises have the capabilities and resources to undertake most endeavours. This is both an advantage as well as a challenge as it affords the opportunity to lose focus and commit to non-strategic efforts. I find the ability to stay focused on the areas where the company brings the most value and stay aligned with the strategic goals to be challenging in a large enterprise.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
When I came to Option, I was the second employee in the region. So, I was involved in tasks far outside of the typical scope of the role as the business was grown with the mobile operators. This provided great experience in both technical and commercial projects as well as interacting with headquarters in Europe. When I came to IDEMIA, it was a similar experience of a small sales team with headquarters in Europe in a much larger company. There was a large emphasis on growing the business in North America which provided the opportunity to start in a Field Marketing role and progress to being a Vice President in charge of business development in the region.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Working for a company with headquarters in Europe requires a different and flexible structure for the working day. With only a half business day of overlap, I must ensure that any interactions with the headquarters team is prioritized in the first part of the day. This may require some days to start earlier to allow for more interaction time. The end of my day is focused on setting up anything I need from headquarters so that they have their first half of the day to consider or work on the topic. This is ideally my late afternoon, but sometimes can be evening activity. I prioritize finding time during the week to exercise - the time I exercise is not consistent as I keep flexibility for work priorities. I also prioritize having dinner, and sometimes lunches with the family. I try to have 'down time' each day before going to sleep to keep my body in a consistent rhythm.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most recent significant leadership lesson I have learned is to ensure your team and your colleagues feel secure. When people feel secure, they can then focus on critical topics at hand. The last year of the pandemic presented the prime example of this lesson. When the team and colleagues were secure in their health and secure in their employment, they were then able to deal with all of the changes and challenges that the pandemic had forced upon our business.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
I have been surprised by the impact of the book 'Never Split the Difference, Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It' by Chris Voss. While I read this book for insights on negotiating, the book has taught skills for interacting that are useful far more often than in a formal negotiation. It teaches you to look beyond the initial presentation of the other party to seek their motivations as well as tools to try to draw out more information in a non confrontational manner. Using the tools has allowed me to have more productive conversations with colleagues.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I believe that leadership, as defined by how colleagues look to you for direction rather than the decision making power vested in you by the company, is developed over time through multiple interactions with colleagues. People are generally looking for leaders that support a fair, inquisitive, and wise approach to problem solving. If you can show yourself to be trustworthy, genuinely seek the input of your colleagues, include others in the decision making as well as success of the project, and produce positive results, then others will look to you for guidance and thus leadership in the future. It should be expected to be an incremental process.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I was really impressed with the direction our CEO set for the company at the start of the pandemic. The direction was three fold: (1) Protect our employees, (2) Protect the company, (3) Protect our customers. Not only was the message simple enough to propagate throughout the organization, but the next step in the direction was always impossible if the preceding step was not accomplished. This approach succeeded in driving the actions for employees to feel secure in their health and in their employment. With this in place, we could all work to protect our customers which provided immense short term and long term benefits for the business.