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Five-minute interview: Darren Laurie, Versa Networks

It’s time for another channel executive to share some details about their life and career

Morning, Darren. Tell us what you do for a living.

My name is Darren Laurie and I am sales director, strategic partners Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), at Versa Networks. I focus on the Tier 1 service provider and system integrator partners who build managed services around Versa Secure SD-WAN and Versa SASE (Secure Access Service Edge).

Why are you the right person for this job?

Experience and attitude play a key part, as well as passion, energy and a desire to continue self-development of others and myself.

What gets you up in the morning?

Normally a hungry Labrador. I am also lucky enough to enjoy my job. So many different facets, cultures and people keep life interesting, and sometimes challenging, and this always provides motivation to get me up in the morning.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

I am fortunate to have experienced several high-calibre leaders throughout my career, each bringing something valuable to the table which has helped my personal journey. I should also mention the wife or I will pay the price.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?

The best would be from my first sales director, Martin, at Newbridge Networks in 1990, who said, “Always think from your customers’ perspective.”

What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?

Always think about the outcome. Any technology or IT initiative in the business world must pass the “so what” test.

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning digital transformation?

Laughs, I think the most interesting question is, “What does digital transformation mean to you?”

“Something most people don't know about me is that my father was a professional entertainer and performed on stage with the likes of Tom Jones, Marti Caine and Tony Christie”

Darren Laurie, Versa Networks

What does the next five years hold for the channel?

Continued transition to as a service; more focus on how solutions and services directly affect business outcomes; less dependence on vendor-specific hardware as software-defined networking opens up choice; security as an embedded component, not bolt-on; increased adoption of Secure Access Service Edge (SASE); and finally we will most likely see a move to experience level agreements (XLA) through application awareness to improve customer/user experience.

Tell us something most people do not know about you?

My father was a professional entertainer and performed on stage with the likes of Tom Jones, Marti Caine and Tony Christie.

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?

An actual eight-hour working day. Seriously, despite having been able to travel globally with work, I would like a year travelling with my wife to see amazing places such as the Bolivian salt flats.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

More than one book – I really enjoyed Mo Hayder’s crime thrillers, the Jack Caffery series, which starts with the book Birdman.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

GI Joe – a couple of hours I will never get back.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?

U2, The Joshua Tree; Metallica’s Master of Puppets; Tears for Fears, The Hurting, and Global Underground.

What temptation can you not resist?

Making people laugh. It must be in the DNA from my father.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?

A 1990 red Ford Sierra company car with a wired car phone. It was much slower than my car today.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?

Any politician. The reason is likely obvious!

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?

A dolphin. They love the sea, fun and freedom, and they are smart.

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?

Gandalf. His accumulated wisdom and abilities may provide a better chance to change the odds.

And finally, a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla are getting ready for a no-holds-barred rumble. Who is your money on and why?

It would have to be the grizzly. It has a massive weight advantage and better armoury of teeth and claws.

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