Clara Angotti Talks Tech & Innovation on The Digital Executive Podcast

Next Pathway President Clara Angotti joined Brian Thomas on The Digital Executive podcast to talk about her journey as an entrepreneur, technologist and innovator and why moving to the cloud is the biggest and most important technological shift for companies of our time.

As a recipient of the prestigious Profit Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, she emphasizes the significance of digitizing one’s business to stay competitive in today’s market. Most importantly, she defines the roles and responsibilities she’s taken on in order to create the right environment for her team so they can continue to thrive and grow amidst a global pandemic.

Listen to the podcast here and read the interview below.

Brian Thomas: Welcome to Coruzant Technologies, home of the Digital Executive podcast. Today's guest is Clara Angotti. Clara Angotti has over 25 years of technology management experience. As President, Miss Angotti has focused on Next Pathway’s mission of helping customers automate the end-to-end challenges they experience when migrating applications to the cloud.

Among her accomplishments, Miss Angotti has been a three-time finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is also a two-time recipient of the prestigious Canada's Most Powerful Woman and Top 100 Award by the Women's Executive Network. In addition to these accolades, Miss Angotti is a recipient of the prestigious Profit Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship, which is awarded to an individual who has launched one or more successful companies, has a proven track record of growth and profitability, and is a role model to other entrepreneurs.

Good afternoon, Clara. Welcome to the show.

Clara Angotti: Thank you, Brian. Nice to meet you.

Brian Thomas: Nice to meet you as well, Clara. Pretty excited to have you on - I do a lot of podcasts and this is what really inspires me during the day, because I get to hear your story and share that with a very large global audience, so thank you.

Clara, we're going to jump right in. You’ve got a strong background in technology leadership, and you're the co-founder of your current tech company, Next Pathway. Could you share with our audience, what drives you and what has contributed to your success?

Clara Angotti: I've been in technology for over 30 years and what continuously surprises me is the great thing about our business - it's in constant evolution.

And I would honestly say that right now is probably one of the most exciting times that I've seen since the.com boom. Just the emergence of the cloud and the possibilities that are available now to organizations. It really inspires me and my team to build really interesting technologies to assist our clients.

So one of the great things about being a technology entrepreneur is really that you kind of get to pick what sort of products and expertise you want to develop with your team and bring that to market. And then, if things are not working or you want to make a change, you're really driving your own agenda and your own destiny.

To have the ability to make decisions quickly and be agile - you can't think of a better kind of work environment where you can test new ideas, almost on a dime. From that perspective, it's always fun and super challenging, which is great and very rewarding for me as well.

So from a career perspective, it’s been constantly rewarding for me. And that's kind of kept me going for so long and I really don't see an end. I'm 30 years into the business and I'm still learning every day which is really nice.

Brian Thomas: Absolutely. That's awesome. Thanks for sharing. And you're absolutely right. Growth equals fulfillment. So I think that's truly going to resonate with many people on this podcast. So Clara, as you know, everybody globally has had to make major shifts to adapt to the new normal in this pandemic. Could you share with us what you're doing to help your organization stay relevant in this economy?

Clara Angotti: Yes. We’ve been really blessed with understanding the real potential that the cloud offers. Just look at what's happened in the last six months in terms of the pandemic and what it's meant to many of the businesses that we serve, who tend to be Fortune 500 organizations.

Those that have understood the power of digitizing their business and have gone to lengths to transform their business and replatform it, or at least get it ready for the cloud have really done a great job of surviving. And some of them have actually been thriving in the environment of economic certainty that the pandemic has really created in our world.

What we do is we really automate our customer's journey and their migration of legacy data to the cloud. If anything, we've become even more relevant to our customers in this new normal, because while many of them have previously considered moving data warehouses to the cloud, it's almost an imperative for them that they really need to do this.

So over the last, I would say, four months, our business has never been busier because many of the customers that we were chatting to a year ago and doing some pilots about moving some data warehouses to the cloud are now calling us saying - I need to do it right now.

And there’s a couple things that they are saying - one, some of them are on legacy warehouses where they're spending too much money and it's costing them too much operational overhead, or they’re experiencing end of life issues with their data warehouse. But the majority of them are saying - I really need to be more nimble in my organization from an operational efficiency perspective.

But also nimbleness to say, if I need to spend more money and more effort on my online presence then, I need to be able to do that. And if anything, this pandemic has taught us is that those companies that can be nimble will do well. We don't know what the next curve ball is going to be. If anything, what we've learned is that the companies need to be operationally at the ready and nothing prepares them better for being able to spin their business than having the agility of the cloud. So, if anything, I think our business has been more relevant than any other time, so we're super happy to be ready for this environment.

Brian Thomas: That's amazing. Clara, I appreciate you sharing that. The pivot and the shift in stories that I've heard over the last six months have been simply amazing; how people have just completely turned around and innovated instead of turning business on its head. We've actually turned the pandemic on its head which is kind of a way of doing business obviously.

So thank you for sharing Clara. This is a good one from a technology standpoint, are you looking at or leveraging any newer emerging technologies within your company? And if there's nothing specific to that, anything you care to share with our audience? You might be using just a really cool app you want to share with us.

Clara Angotti: What's really helped us is the fact that we bought a number of Zoom licenses about two years ago. And we were using it because we were giving a lot of demonstrations of our technology to global clients. But over the last six months, since March, everybody has been working from their home.

And so Zoom has become a constant application that's on our phones and on our laptops. It's really kept us connected and working together as a team, and also allows us to keep giving great demonstrations to customers all over the world. The white boarding and collaboration features are excellent.

I don't have any other really neat things that we're doing outside of just really relying heavily on Zoom. But I know that our infrastructure and dev ops teams are constantly exploring new technologies in the dev ops space. We've seen a number of cyber-attacks, and I often get emails from charitable organizations that we support saying we've been hacked. We're constantly aware of the fact that we're all a little bit more vulnerable than we were seven months ago when we were working from our offices, and so we're constantly thinking about what that means to us in our day-to-day operations.

And some people don't like it because we're buttoning down the hatches a little bit stronger and adding two-step authentication to almost everything, but that's just the world that we're living in today, which is in some respects, good housekeeping habits. But it's kept us a lot more aware of our own security.

Brian Thomas: Thank you for sharing that. I think that's important that others can learn how you've transitioned and leveraged some of the technology that we may not even look at for another several years, but the pandemic has kind of forced us to look at these other technologies, so thank you for sharing.

And Clara, this is a big question from our audience. They want to know more about Clara Angotti. Can you share something from your career experience that would be helpful for those looking to grow their career in technology or leadership?

Clara Angotti: Yes, I can speak to both of those topics. I think what I've learned over my years from a technology perspective is that it's really important to create an environment of ideation for your company.

And what I mean by that is to embrace the idea and foster an environment where it's okay to fail. And we know that as we're building our products and our technology, that there's a good chance that some of the ideas that we bring to the table will fail. That's because we're solving some really difficult challenges, and that's how we stay relevant. How we stay valuable is we like to think of ourselves as being able to crack some of the problems that haven't been solved yet. And right now, we're focusing very strongly on bringing in massive complex data warehouses to the cloud in an automated fashion. So we really support the idea that it's okay to fail.

It's not okay not to get up and dust yourself off and get back at it. Don't be burdened by failing. Don't be burdened by time or money. What we do tell them is we give you an envelope of people, and work four to six weeks sprints, where we get our technology or our ideas to be demo ready; enough for us to kind of test whether or not we have something that can work, and we quickly come to understand if this can fly or not. If not, what do we need to do to actually put more time and money behind it.

And that way we test early or fail early, and then we move on and fine tune. And that gives everyone some really good confidence because you don't want to shackle your team with the burden of, ‘Oh my God, if I do this and it fails, I'm going to be out of a job or I'm going to be disappointing somebody.’ It's all lessons learned.

It's all part of the ideation process. So that's kind of my generic advice for any tech entrepreneurs. From a leadership perspective, I do think a lot about this, and I've always thought about finding the right people and putting them in places and in positions where they're going to succeed. The key is you have to find great people and great people are difficult to find and you can't compromise on them.

You’ve got to look for people that, within their fundamental DNA of who they are, they are people that want to work hard. And not because you pay them and not because you say so, or not because their job description says so, but because that's the fundamental part of who they are. And that means that they don't look for excuses when they fail.

They don't look to take all the rewards when things go well. They work well as a team. They're the kind of people that you want regardless of what technology you're building. And that's essential because in the technology field, especially right now, we don't know what our business could look like a year from now.

Today, we're doing a lot of work around cloud migrations, but that may change ever so subtly, or we may have a different idea six months from now. And being in technology, we're allowed to be super nimble. I want people that are good and great, regardless of what we’re doing. And the other thing about these people from a leadership perspective, I never tell people how they need to work or manage them on a day-to-day basis.

I will lead them. I will guide them. I'll prioritize them, but what they do and how they do it on a day-to-day basis is very much left for them to decide. They're accountable to me, but ultimately how they do it and how they organize themselves - they have full autonomy over that. And I think that creates a really good environment because I respect the fact that they are specialists in their area.

And so I don't want to necessarily be mucking it up on a day-to-day basis. I trust them and it gives them the freedom and the creativity to do what they think is right at the end of the day. This creates a really good environment where mutual respect and shared values drive success. And that for me, has worked for 30 plus years.

I think that that's the secret formula that I'll continue to lean on going into the future.

Brian Thomas: Thanks for sharing that explanation on the tech side and the leadership side, Clara. We certainly appreciate it. I love those nuggets of wisdom - it’s great to share it with our global audience.

Thank you again. Clara, it was such a pleasure having you on today. And I look forward to speaking with you real soon.

Clara Angotti: Thank you, Brian. I really appreciate the opportunity.