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Five-minute interview: Jan Ursi, Rubrik

MicroScope asks another channel executive a series of questions designed to help you get to know them that little bit better

Morning, Jan, tell us what you do for a living

I’m Rubrik’s senior director for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) channels and technology partners. I work with a team of passionate people, partnering with the most innovative solution providers in the IT industry, to bring Rubrik Cloud Data Management to our joint customers in EMEA.

Why are you the right person for this job?

I love working with people who innovate on behalf of their customers, with a passion for the front line, building and scaling an innovative business in a warm, collaborative spirit.

What gets you up in the morning?

The sense that we are building something unique, of everlasting value, that allows people and teams to flourish, doing good for ourselves, our customers, our company and therefore eventually helping the world become a better place.

Who helped you get to where you are today?

My wife Veerle and our three children, Nora, Kasper and Stan, who have been by my side for the past 20 years, supporting me in my endeavours, even when it involved taking risks and being away from home too many times. Also, the many talented people, co-workers and leaders that I have been blessed to learn from, be inspired by and collaborate with. The people who challenged and stretched me, made me feel uncomfortable and pushed me into unknown terrain.

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

The best advice I have received is: “You have to deal with the world the way it is, not the way you want it to be”, which was advice given by John Chambers during a conversation with Rubrik’s co-founder, chairman and CEO, Bipul Sinha. Other valuable advice is that you are born with your talents and weaknesses – it’s up to you to take the maximum amount of responsibility for yourself to make the best of it and do good for yourself, your family, your team, your community and your company. Or as Jordan Peterson puts it, “Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world”.

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

Don’t look at where others are today, just look at yourself and if you are getting better each day. Look at it as if your contribution this month was better than last month, not if your contribution was better than someone else’s. Tell the truth. Surround yourself with people you genuinely enjoy being around because they want the best for you. See your job and journey with your company as a mission, believe in the cause and the people around you. Being part of a journey you believe in is key because there will be adversity, and those will be the moments you will learn from the most. Don’t run away from adversity, embrace it – it will strengthen you.

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

No, the world is digital and connected, and that’s that. It affects and improves all areas of our lives. The way we work, love, play, learn is constantly changing and transforming because of the wealth of possibilities the digital revolution offers humanity to flourish. It is our duty as an industry to constantly look for innovative ways to help the world progress and improve wealth, health and happiness.

“I am an amateur musician and have played in multiple rock and roll bands. Since high school I have played with a band called The Blue Chevys and we have rocked the stage at music clubs and festivals across Europe since we were teenagers”

Jan Ursi, Rubrik

What do the next five years hold for the channel?

The growth and value of data will only increase in the coming years, so almost every business on the planet will need to rethink how they protect it and drive value from it. 
I believe data protection should be a time capsule for easy search and quick recovery, while also listening to the data, wherever it may reside, to do so much more. Automate business continuity at a lower cost, mitigate security threats (stop ransomware attacks), detect compliance issues (locate sensitive data), migrate safely to the cloud (move data easily) and integrate with other business applications. Rubrik presents a great opportunity for business and technology partners to collaborate and create value together in the next phase of cloud data management.

Tell us something most people do not know about you

I am an amateur musician and have played in multiple rock and roll bands. Since high school I have played with a band called The Blue Chevys and we have rocked the stage at music clubs and festivals across Europe since we were teenagers. I am also the co-owner of the oldest jazz club in Belgium called the Hnita Jazz Club. The club has a rich tradition, and all the greatest jazz heroes from now and the past have played there.

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

Be considered a loving father and husband, a good friend and an inspiring colleague.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker. In 75 astonishing graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge and happiness are on the rise, not just in the west but worldwide. This progress is a gift of the Enlightenment. We now know this has worked but needs a vigorous defence today.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?

Superman IV.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s? 

OK Computer by Radiohead, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, Texas Flood by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Live at The Hamburg Starclub by Jerry Lee Lewis.

What temptation can you not resist?

A good whisky.

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

My first car was a Triumph Spitfire 1500. It was a two-seater. Now I have a family car that is much more practical but much less fun.

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

The actor Joaquin Phoenix. I am not a fan of virtue signalling. I’d rather spend time in an elevator with people who really make an active contribution to making the world a better place, like Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup initiative.

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

A bird, flying high and free.

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

Superman. He doesn’t have a specific skill – he can do all we can, but much better.

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?

The gorilla, he’s probably smarter.

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