Both companies welcomed us warmly and staff at each facility presented us with materials that helped us understand their organization at a macro level. They then drilled down into some exciting new areas in which they are actively advancing the leading edges of their fields of technology.
At Microsoft, our morning learning experience was presented by Karun Bakshi, the director of the cloud and infrastructure portfolio in Microsoft's BizSpark One initiative. His talk introduced Microsoft's unique "innovation through collaboration" approach. He spoke about the company's efforts to connect with new business strategy and give global gifts (BizSpark) that serve as a value-added service intended to make their applications valuable.
He also spoke about the company's next big projects: Transformation, natural user interface, inventing the future and developer opportunities. His great insight into cloud computing and the effort to attract new revenue streams by supporting start-ups through to proactive revenue territories was excellent.
Our next stop at IBM was breathtaking: from Cheryl Kieliszewski's presentation on global technology outlook to Jeffrey Kreulen's business analytics to Bryan L. Jackson's thought-provoking slides on cognitive computing, these presentations took us into the real world of IBM. This company is far more than just information technology; it goes deep into how technology and innovation can be driven into the marketplace.
For example, building more intelligent business machines that would reverse-engineer the brain, developing applications of advanced analytics, mathematics, science and fresh thinking to find innovative solutions to solve today's critical business challenges.
The three speakers all spoke about the value of data and how to transform this information into value given the amount of data that is available in the world. Mr. Jackson spoke about how amazing the human brains are and how difficult they are to replicate; Mr. Kreulen, a distinguished engineer and a master inventor, spoke about the opportunities that are now present to solve problems and create wealth via analytics. After the three presentations, it became obvious IBM continues to be a learning research company.
The day ended with an evening dinner reception with Valley Area University of Ottawa and Telfer School alumni at the Sheraton Hotel, Palo Alto. A bit of networking and cheerful thoughts were shared on life in the Valley by Lee Fraser, executive director for finance of Warner Brother's television.
Additionally, words on how to be a successful entrepreneur and a leader was shared by Gigi Wang, a board member and chair emeritus at MIT/Stanford Venture Lab. Ms. Wang shared some pearls of wisdom with us, including:
- Being a successful entrepreneur starts with culture, and trust is the building block of culture;
- Not willing to take the risk of being an entrepreneur means you are not hungry enough to make it happen. Also, failure is a great learning tool because you would not forget the lessons learned
- Work together with people because you make a pie far bigger than you can ever make yourself;
- Integrity means relationship integrity, which equals a win-win-win attitude;
- Jealousy should be far from you, pull each other up because that is what Silicon valley is all about;
- Empower your employees, because innovation from the bottom is chaotic while innovation from the top is order;
- Create leaders and give them free will to set the bar way higher than themselves, as such they would go all the way to reach it;
- Build a framework with a clear mission statement.
-By Ejibola Adetokunbo-Taiwo
This article is the second in a series this week on the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management Executive MBA class trip to the Silicon Valley. The trip is part of the EMBA curriculum on "Innovation and Entrepreneurship."