Leaders’ Insights: Tony O’Malley, Fujitsu Ireland

9 Nov 2015

Tony O'Malley, CEO, Fujitsu Ireland

Tony O’Malley took over the role of CEO of Fujitsu Ireland in June this year when his predecessor Regina Moran was appointed as CEO of Fujitsu UK & Ireland.

Former Irish Army captain O’Malley has worked with Fujitsu Ireland since 1998, holding a variety of roles within the company.

Fujitsu Ireland employs around 350 people, and the firm counts itself among the top five IT solutions providers in the country, with clients including public and private sector bodies such as the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, University College Dublin and KBC Bank Ireland.

Worldwide, Fujitsu employs about 159,000 people supporting clients in more than 100 countries.

O’Malley now heads up the day-to-day operations of Fujitsu Ireland on both a national and international level.

Describe your role and what you do.

As CEO of Fujitsu Ireland, I am responsible for leading the Fujitsu Ireland business and working with my 350-plus team to provide innovative ICT services to the public and private sector in the Irish marketplace.

In particular, I work to assist customers with their transformation agendas and to progress Fujitsu’s vision to create a ‘human-centric intelligent society’ — one where the power of ICT is used to harness knowledge and continually drive new value and support sustainable growth.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I have recently stepped into the CEO role of Fujitsu Ireland and, while I have worked with the company for a number of years, the new position has brought with it a new set of responsibilities, opportunities and challenges. At the outset of every task, whether it is long-term planning or a project rollout, I lay out a clear map of my objectives and the various milestones along the way. I find that by mapping out the process I can draw on the expertise of my colleagues and delegate as required. The experience and excellence of my team is a key consideration in my everyday role across the entire business.

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

The main challenge facing us at Fujitsu Ireland is attracting and retaining talent. We are a growing business and our success over the last few years has meant that we have had to expand our capacity, which can be a challenge in a competitive jobs market. We put a huge emphasis on getting people that are the right fit in terms of skills, ambition and overall personality. While a challenge, it is also an opportunity as it is driving us to be a better employer and ultimately more attractive to someone looking for an opportunity to progress in a challenging and rewarding environment.

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

In June, Fujitsu launched it’s global cloud internet of things (IoT) Platform called Human-Centric IoT, a new platform service for utilising IoT data over digital business platforms, based on Fujitsu Knowledge Integration, a new integration concept that drives the digital business era. It is Fujitsu’s intention to build applications targeting strategic industry verticals including engineering, transport, retail and healthcare.

Human-Centric IoT delivers a service for building and providing features for the efficient and real-time utilisation of enormous amounts of sensor data from people and things, over Fujitsu’s public cloud. It incorporates the world’s first distributed service platform technology, developed by Fujitsu Laboratories, which dynamically allocates and accelerates data processing. Even in environments where data volumes fluctuate dramatically, it can keep resource requirements in check and realise stable performance. A key growth vertical for Fujitsu is the healthcare market.

‘The main challenge facing us at Fujitsu Ireland is attracting and retaining talent’

What set you on the road to where you are in the technology industry?

Upon finishing my Leaving Certificate, I was torn between beginning a career in the Irish Defence Forces and pursuing a technical degree.

I ultimately chose to pursue a career in the Defence Forces, but, throughout my time in the army, communications, science and digital technology remained a passion. Once promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1986, I joined the Communications and Information Corps. That position exposed me to an array of cutting-edge digital technologies and allowed me to hone my skills and ultimately further develop my passion for technology and innovation.

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

Not trusting my gut instinct, it invariably is never wrong and it doesn’t betray your true values. My wife will tell you that I should listen to her more, as well.

How do you get the best out of your team?

In my experience, when managing teams it’s crucial to outline what’s expected of each member right from the start. It needs to be clear what the collaboration is trying to achieve and how each team members’ participation will serve to drive the team to its final goal.

Taking an inclusive approach ensures that the dynamic mix of each team member’s personality, methodology and expertise can work effectively. You also need certainty with regard to the end goal to ensure everyone remains motivated and rises to the challenge. If something isn’t working, it is important to be decisive in making a change. Experimentation and failure can lead to the greatest innovation.

‘My wife will tell you that I should listen to her more’

STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity. What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to effect change?

Diversity is an incredibly important element to every successful team dynamic and achieving balance will lead to success, particularly in the global workplace. At Fujitsu Ireland, we work hard to ensure that this balance is ingrained in not only our culture but also our day-to-day work. This is not limited to gender balance as we have an international team that brings a rich experience to our business and the needs of our customers. While there has undoubtedly been a traditional gender gap in the area of STEM, I do believe this is changing for the better, however, there is work to be done and it is the responsibility of the industry to lead the way. There is a need for clear development pathways in terms of training and career progression that will encourage people to choose STEM careers and encourage diversity. I also believe that a greater facilitation of mobile work lifestyles can offer both men and women access to opportunities and ultimately offer greater choice when choosing a career path.

Who is your business hero and why?

I had the great fortune of meeting my life mentor early in my career in Fujitsu. John F Walsh was the quintessential ‘silver fox’ – a fountain of wisdom, forward-thinking, lover of fun and life and, above all else, a person who made time for everyone. He ingrained in me the value of taking a long-term view of relationships and this ultimately sets you up for long-term success. This value is also reflected in our Japanese heritage and culture as we celebrate our 80th anniversary this year.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

I won’t venture down the traditional route of business books. As I have three young kids, we read many children’s books and anyone can take inspiration from the reading of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper.

You will probably never find this book listed on anyone else’s top 10 best books, but this book brings to life in a most simplistic way the single most important lesson to be learned by anyone that wants or needs to be successful. It inspires kids with the notion of ‘I think I can do it’, a wisdom that can carry us all a long way in business and in life.

‘Anyone can take inspiration from the reading of The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper’

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

My best resource is my team. As Henry Ford put it: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” My team and I have a very clear goal of what we want to achieve for Fujitsu in the mid and long term and having their support is essential to accomplish my vision and goals.

I also think having interests outside work is a great way to switch off. For me, this revolves around my family, bringing my three boys to training, taking in a Clare hurling game or getting some exercise.