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Five-minute interview: Olen Scott, Aryaka Networks

In this interview, MicroScope asks Olen Scott, senior vice-president of worldwide channels at Aryaka Networks, about his life, career and inspirations

Hi Olen, tell us what you do for a living
I run the global channel and alliances organisation for Aryaka Networks as the senior vice-president of worldwide channels.

Why are you the right person for this job?
I am a huge believer in the power and value of the channel, for both customers and vendors. When the channel is done correctly, everyone involved in the process can benefit.

What gets you up in the morning?
I get my energy from engaging every day with other people and solving problems. There’s nothing quite like solving a problem – it’s like finishing a puzzle or solving a tough riddle. When you can do that on a large scale and, crucially, help others do it, that is very meaningful.

Who helped you get to where you are today?
My mother, my wife, my faith and the many great business mentors I have come into contact with.

Is it possible to get through an industry conversation without mentioning ‘digital transformation’?
Digital transformation has become watered down. It is very real, but has become extremely broad in its use.

What does the next five years hold for the channel?
The channel will become more relevant than ever. Change and complexity continues to increase and customers are looking for trusted advisers to help them navigate innumerable options. Emphasis on cloud and as-a-service consumption models will accelerate and partners in transactional businesses will struggle if they don’t evolve.

What is the best or worst business advice you have received and from whom?
The best business advice I ever received was to be authentic and treat people like you want to be treated. It may be a common lesson, but it’s one that is timeless. If you want to lead people and ask them to run through brick walls for you, then you need to be genuine and show people respect.

Olen Scott

“If you want to lead people and ask them to run through brick walls for you, then you need to be genuine and show people respect”

Olen Scott, Aryaka Networks

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What advice would you give to someone starting out today in IT?
Instead of focusing on selling your products, focus on listening to your customers and being the very best at solving their problems, helping them to achieve their goals.

Tell us something most people do not know about you
When I was (much) younger, I wrestled Olympic athlete and former WWF champion Kurt Angle on three different occasions. Unfortunately, I lost 0-3!

What goal do you have to achieve before you die, and why?
Raise three confident, happy and healthy young women. That is what matters most.

What is the best book you’ve ever read?
That is a difficult one. For me, it is Strong fathers, strong daughters by Meg Meeker. I got it for my first Father’s Day and it really moved me.

And the worst film you’ve ever seen?
I am genuinely embarrassed at the hours I’ve given to horrible films. Over the Top, starring Sylvester Stallone, was the worst of them.

What would be your Desert Island MP3s?
I love most music – country, old Motown and classic rock are my favourites.

What temptation can you not resist?
Pizza, every time.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with? Why, what did they do?
Almost any career politician. Too many have disappointed me.

What was your first car and how does it compare with what you drive now?
My first car was a 1986 Chevy Cavalier, and it was not the cool muscle car I dreamed about in high school. Today, I drive a Mercedes E350, but I bought it and have had it for many years now.

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
If I could be any animal, I’d be an eagle – they’re very majestic, and who wouldn’t want to soar?

If you were facing awesome peril and impossible odds, which real or fictional person would you most want on your side and why?
Harry Potter, he has got a seriously strong resume for escaping harrowing situations.

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?
Out of those two, it has to be the grizzly bear – they are huge and particularly mean.

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