‘The move to 5G will define the winners and losers of the telecom industry’

24 Mar 2020

Glo Gordon. Image: Matrixx Software

Matrixx Software’s Glo Gordon discusses 5G transformation, team leadership, and diversity in Silicon Valley.

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Glo Gordon is the recently appointed CEO of Silicon Valley-based Matrixx Software, a company that is helping telcos with digital commerce and digital transformation.

Gordon has worked in the service provider space for nearly two decades, gaining leadership experience in enterprise software, sales, and operation support systems and business support systems. She previously held senior roles at artificial intelligence firm Uptake and Cisco’s IoT group.

‘It’s not just about fast speeds – this is about transforming services’

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I believe you have to be crystal clear in your objectives, goals and timelines. Write them down. I recognise when goalposts move, so adapting quickly and sticking to the main priorities are key.

As someone who has run large teams, when you help each other simplify what you’re trying to achieve, you’re more likely to succeed in getting closer to your goals.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

The move to 5G is the most pivotal change in the last 20-plus years for the telecom industry globally. It will define both the winners and losers of the future, because this is not a simple migration to another generation, it’s a wholesale digital transformation of communication service providers (CSPs) at the very core of the technical architecture.

It’s also not just about fast speeds – this is about transforming services that CSPs can offer both consumers and enterprise, and it’s likely to be a clash of the titans between broadband and cellular, allowing telecom operators to be vastly nimbler in the services they provide.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

5G and digital transformation.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I’ve been in the service provider space for almost 20 years and I find it fascinating as it shapes both enterprise and consumer experiences. Starting with telco applications, first at SAP, then Oracle, and then moving into the operations support system and business support system (OSS/BSS) space. Internet of things (IoT) was a natural next move, IoT evolved into an artificial intelligence and machine learning experience, and I’m now heavily in the 5G transformation arena.

It’s a natural progression if you’re really paying attention and skating to where the puck is going.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

As a new leader, I took over a low-performing team. Instead of teaching them how to fish, I fished for all of us and we had a phenomenal year. I left that role for another opportunity and then came back to the same exact team, who had floundered after my time as their leader.

I realised I had failed them. I fortunately had a second chance to do it differently and it was a much more rewarding experience.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Set a relatable vision with my leadership team, establish a mission for everyone with the big picture in mind and report regularly on our progress.

I believe that people are our most valuable asset and when people ‘want to, together’, the magic appears and the experience is an unforgettable one for all of us. A lot goes into the ‘want to’, including being accessible and supportive of individuals. Building relationships at all levels of an organisation is highly rewarding.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Yes, and while it’s been slower than I would like, there has been a growing recognition of the inclusion and diversity disparity in Silicon Valley over the last seven to eight years thanks to high-profile efforts by Melinda Gates, former US CTO Megan Smith, Tim Cook, Reverend Jesse Jackson and journalistic efforts that have highlighted the systemic societal challenges.

Here in Silicon Valley, I see more people bringing themselves to work than 20 years ago, so there is progress – albeit too slowly. Educating the workforce is key, so that managers hiring have a wider vision and understanding of the inherent biases when recruiting new people. There has been too little awareness of candidates and a lack of qualified diversity in hiring pools.

Adding to a work culture is crucial rather than bringing someone on who is a good ‘culture fit’, which is just a code word for ‘like me’. That’s not diversity.

As a CEO, I’m also looking to expand our talent and recruitment strategies by empowering human resources to lead and ensure we’re being more holistic in moving the needle at the department level. At the boardroom level, my peers and I need to push for accountability, as that is something that needs to grow.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I’ve had two.

Dave Packer took a risk on me by hiring me into PeopleSoft as a regional manager, due to my leadership skills and learning aptitude versus my enterprise resource planning experience, of which I had none. This was pivotal to my career.

Then I met Jahangir Mohammed, CEO and founder of Jasper. My experience as a first time CRO under Jahangir was like earning an MBA. To this day, both Dave and Jahangir are the most inspiring leaders I’ve had the honour of working for during my career.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Raving Fans: A revolutionary approach to customer service [by Ken Blanchard].

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
  • Soy mocha latte
  • Electric vehicle
  • A sense of humour
  • A great team of people at Matrixx Software
  • Happy customers
  • Solving a meaningful problem with an awesome product

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