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At Egnyte the Spark is at the center of everything we do, including our logo. When it comes to our team, we see the Spark as the intersection of talents and passions that drive each and every employee – which is what ultimately drives Egnyte. Through this series I hope to showcase the outstanding individuals whose combined talents make Egnyte what it is today.

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* Bold Writing Represents the Voice of Egnyte CEO Vineet Jain

Dee, it’s so great to see you again! I always enjoy coming over to our London office. For our readers, let’s start off with your title and where you are located.

I’m the Business Solutions Director for the EMEA, basically I’m the Marketing Director and I’m based in the UK.

What’s your current mobile device and current computer?

Current mobile phone is an iPhone 7 Plus which I’m very happy with. I wanted a phone that could fit in my hand but now that I have this big screen, I absolutely love it. I didn’t think I’d like it since it’s so big.

When did you get it?

Just a few weeks ago. I had an iPhone 5S before it.

Oh my, that’s a major generational leap!

So I gave the 5s to my daughter who always gets my hand-me-downs and I held it the other day and it’s tiny. I don’t know how it worked, particularly because of my vision. I call this 7 Plus my senior’s phone.

When I switched to the 6 Plus, the person who convinced me was Frank Sicilia in New York, I was hesitant since it wouldn’t fit in my front pocket. He said “Eh, normally no one puts their phone in the front pocket and most shirts don’t have front pockets. What about your regular pants or jeans?” So I tried the phone and it felt okay. I thought about it and said let me try it. And you know, it grows on you.

It does, very quickly.

After that, all the small phones feel so tiny. Everything feels squished.

And what about your computer?

My computer is a MacBook Air. This was a bit of a change for me because before coming to Egnyte, I was using Surface Pro. After working with Microsoft for such a long time, I was very Microsoft pro and into all of the Windows products. Slowly but surely, I’ve switched over more and more to iOS. Now, I don’t want anything that’s Windows based. Everything at our home, all of the technology is Apple.

So you’re a convert.

I wouldn’t say it in front of my “Microsofties” but I am a complete convert.

It’s interesting, a lot of our interviews back at HQ. I don’t know why, but a lot of people have MacBooks and their phone is an Android. It still baffles me to say, why do you want to deal with two different operating systems? Anyways, just my own observation.

So what are some of your favorites apps, besides Egnyte?

I’ve got two favorite current apps. OurPact is great if you’ve got teenage children. I have my daughter’s devices listed in here, and I can schedule when she can be online and even block it at times. Before she went to bed, I used to have her bring down her devices to my office but she would sneak back and take them. So now I switch off the WIFI on all of her devices. So now it’s even teenage proof.

Oh wow, that sounds great. And the other one?

I’ve got family living back home in Ireland, and back before this app, TransferWise, it was very complicated sending money back home. It would take weeks and cost a lot of money. With TransferWise, I can send money anywhere around the world. It’s real cost efficient and super fast.

Do they put a transaction fee?

They do but it’s really minimal. If you want to do a bank transfer, it’s normally 20 pounds, but it’s about to 2 pounds with the app. It’s not the best exchange rate but it’s about speed and convenience.

That makes sense, it can be difficult when dealing internationally with the exchange and all that. Now these are some of the questions I really have started to enjoy, learning more about your background and how you found your way to Egnyte.

I’ve been in this industry for over 20 years, around 1996, gosh where does the time go? (chuckles) The first company I worked for was a middleware vendor, and they were a software company out of Dublin, Ireland. After a few years, I got the opportunity to travel to the States and work for the Senior Vice President there while they set up operations in Boston. And I was there for about a year and a half and then moved to New York.

Where in New York?

We had a corporate apartment on 5th Avenue that I was allowed to stay at before they had our Senior Execs come in and boot me out. Then I got an apartment in Long Island.

That’s not a bad setup at all.

Oh it was a great time! I was 20 years of age, had never been to the States and then all of the sudden, I’m living in New York and Boston. That was my first job.

So then I moved back to Ireland and I was there for a very short time, but decided to get going again so I moved to the UK and started off at a company called Remedy Corporation and they were acquired by Peregrine.

Is that where you met Ian McEwan (Former Head of Sales, EMEA)?

That is where I met Ian. I did asset management and fleet management. Then I was at Microsoft for 10 years and I loved it there, such a great place to grow up in. I got to really learn my craft and mature in an environment, that was a brilliant opportunity. After that, Cisco. And then after my second child, I decided I wanted a whole new challenge and worked in financial services for two and a half years.

This is in London?

Yes, they were a global insurance brokerage but insurance is not for me, absolutely not.

(Chuckles)

Why do you say that?

Oh, it’s so archaic and they are just so backward in their thinking. It’s just difficult coming from working for an innovative, dynamic company like Microsoft. You know I would should show these people marketing material like a flip book and they would be blown away, like “wow, that’s amazing” and I’m kind of just sitting there shaking my head. It just wasn’t doing it for me.

That, and the base was low so it was easy to quickly outgrow yourself there. Two and a half years was enough to be schlepping into the city every day. But I wanted to try something new so I felt at the ripe old age of 40, be so bold and try something new. But a part of that new journey also involved me wanting to get back into this sector, so I looked up my old network on LinkedIn.

And so Ian McEwan is your connection here?

Yes, you didn’t know that?

No, I didn’t. That’s another one of those things in these conversations, I end up finding out where everyone originated from and to be honest, it’s shocking how intertwined everyone is.

Yeah, he said “we’re looking for somebody.” This was around the December time frame but I wasn’t looking to leave until the February time frame, but given there’s the whole interviewing process and what not, it all lined up. I literally left my job and a week later started here. Which is not common for the UK where it may be a 3-4 week or 3-4 month transition. I was very glad to be back in this sector, so much happier. You end up realizing what makes you happy once you don’t have it.

Oh, absolutely, you appreciate it more the second time around. That’s a great lesson.

So, what does your typical day look like?

I’m normally up around 6am. It’s a bit crazy in the house in the morning getting the kids ready for school.

Ah, you have two kids? For some reason I thought you only had one.

Yes, two children. The 12 year old, she’s great and compliant and the other is very non-compliant.

Yes, the yin and yang.

They are very funny. My little boy is four and I’ve never met a child so headstrong in my entire life.

At four? He already has all the symptoms of being headstrong?

Oh my gosh, he’s just off the charts headstrong. The school he goes to, the teachers have commented he’s so charming and he can woo people all the time. He’s very observant. He’ll notice something and say, “Oh I really like your coat.”

At four, wow!

Or “That’s a very nice phone, where did you get that from?”, he’ll say to somebody. He’s super clever. He’s a character and he’s tiny. He’s small for his age and with the blond hair and blue eyes he looks angelic, and you just don’t see the little horns pop up.

(they chuckle aloud)

So yes the mornings are very active and getting them off to school. My partner normally drives them to school and then more recently, I’ve been doing a workout before I start working. I start work around 8:30/9am. I’ll come into the office around two to three days out of the week and rest of the time, I’m at home because the commute is anything between 60-90 minutes. The traffic is just so rubbish.

Oh really? I didn’t realize the commute was so hectic. How long did it take you this morning?

An hour and 25 minutes, which was a good run.

Oh my goodness.

Well it’s okay because I mix it up with working at home, which I am very comfortable with and have done for years.

Dee UK Office

You know, speaking with the folks back home and at headquarters, San Francisco is now one of the top three cities in the world in terms of congestion. Los Angeles is higher and that makes us feel better but if you look at it in isolation, it’s gotten very pathetic. And these days, in the Valley in general, you don’t stipulate what time you should come in and what time you should leave, it’s become rampant. It’s like pick whatever time works for you because of the commute. And it adds to so much stress before you even start work, so I want our leadership to minimize that stress whatever way they can and be flexible.

Alright, so what’s your favorite thing about Egnyte?

I think Egnyte here and Egnyte in the US are really quite different because we’re a small sub here. There’s days where we’re like a dysfunctional family. There’s days where the children are misbehaving and mum has to get really cross. There’s days where we like a big fraternity, and we’re all one big happy family. But more recently, everyone’s starting to jive together very well. It’s a good team, it’s a nice team. You feel happy to come in and spend time with the people that you’re working with.

In the US, you definitely feel like you’re part of much bigger. It’s instantly a happy place. I definitely pick up on vibes of places and that’s the sentiment over at HQ. It definitely feels like a happy place. It’s happening here in EMEA now, but it wasn’t necessarily happening in the beginning. Definitely a lot better now.

That’s interesting. There’s surely something to be said about a bigger place and having more people. Maybe it spreads across the people so you don’t feel the pungency as much. But I’m beginning to understand what you said about the vibe back at HQ. And I feel it more noticeably when I get back after a long trip. Suddenly when I walk in and I’m just so glad to be back.

That’s how I felt when I visited there the first time. I thought this is so cool, and this is really great. It kinda reminded me of when I first started working at Microsoft, it was such a cool campus. I was 27 and just felt like wow, I’ve arrived. And I got that same feeling when I first visited the Mountain View office, it was so big and full of life, which wasn’t the same as our day-to-day back in our smaller office in Heathrow.

Oh my, you have to see how we first started, the co-founders, Rajesh, Kris, Amrit, and I. We had an office that was half the size of this room.

Speaking of offices, it’s pretty exciting. This last weekend, our people in Spokane moved from a smaller office into a new building, where we own two floors. Steve showed me photos as I haven’t been there just yet, but they tried to replicate the Silicon Valley architecture, style, colors and everything. That should be a really great office for us, which we can grow up to 100 people.

How many are there at the moment?

Around 30, and I believe we are well on track to double it this year. It should get to 60 by the end of the year.

You know, going back to your original question, what do I like about Egnyte the most. As a working mother, flexibility means everything. When you’re younger, getting a few extra thousand pounds/dollars on your salary means everything.  But as you get older, you can quantify that and think about being able to actually work from home three days a week, allowing me to actually be present and do something with my children.

Oh you don’t have to tell me, we are finding that productivity is actually much higher, you end up delivering more.

Absolutely. I find the days when I’ve traveled in here, there’s interruptions and I’ve wasted so much time in the car, I’m kind of pissed off even before I even get here, which is not a good way to start the day. Then it takes a while to get your head in the right zone and get productive. When you’re at home, you get your coffee, a little breakfast, and you’re all settled and confidently ready to work before 9am. Sometimes I even forget to eat because I’m working and getting so much done that the time flies.

You know, if there is one downside to working from home, it’s that. You’re having no interruption, let’s imagine the children have gone to school, then you just go on and on and before you know it, you haven’t gotten up, eaten, hydrated. It can be a little dangerous.

(Both chuckle aloud)

The next question is what can we change at Egnyte to make it better?

I think one of the things I’ve noticed, just coming up to my one year anniversary in March, is that we can overthink things sometimes. You know when you think of a startup it’s nimble, flexible, and agile, which is what has been successful and got us to where we are today. I would like to see us continue to work that way and not get caught up in some of the details or long decision making processes.

I can see that point, surely, and I think we are in a bit of a growth period where we are making some moves with a bigger company mindset, while still trying to execute on other things with a more startup-minded approach. The challenge is when you go back, there are so many high priority items that you’re dealing with, that some things don’t necessarily fall through the cracks, but the intensity gets lower. So your perception is not wrong, I think there are certain areas where we can move a little quicker and I presume as we continue to build out the teams on both sides of the pond, we will see things pick up. We are in a growth period for sure.

So who’s your biggest role model, personal or professional?

Gosh, I have multiple role models. I always think of personal first. Everything you are in your professional life is who you are in your personal life. Maybe not every aspect but what’s at the core of you is who you are, you can’t change that. So I think my mother, she was a wonderful mother, someone I truly adore.

And from a work perspective, there’s a guy I worked for years and years ago, who gave me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever had. I was in my early 20’s and I just had moved here from Dublin. And I suppose I had gotten a bit brash and too loud and probably too full of myself – I know you can’t ever imagine that (chuckles)

I’m sure I can (Vineet winks and giggles).

He had sort of said to me that I had a bit of bulldozer effect. I was in charge over people and said to me, “you’re doing a good job, you’re doing well but you don’t always have to be right. It’s about getting the right results.” And to this day I say it to my children, I say it to other coworkers, I say it to people who work for me, “It’s not about being right, it’s about getting the right results.” It’s the best advice I’ve gotten and I’ll carry it until the day I die.

Dee and Vineet

That’s great, I really like that. This next one is a fun one. What is something unique about you that other Egnyters don’t know?

There’s a couple things. I did ballet dancing for 17 years. I’ve done all my Royal Academy of Dance examinations. So yeah, I started from three years of age and went until I was about 20. I’m also an avid swimmer, I’ve done life savings and all sorts of activities involved with swim.

So do you swim regularly these days?

Not as much as I’d like to. But when I do, I completely lose myself in it. I can just swim for hours. You can do a lot of thinking and it’s really quite cathartic.

Where do you go swimming?

At an indoor pool at the local gymnasium. It’s too cold to swim outdoors here, at least most of the year.

Are you good at all strokes?

My best stroke is backstroke and my worst stroke is probably the breaststroke.

That’s the hardest. How about the butterfly?

Yes, but not very well now. You have to be really strong to do that. But when I did it competitively for Ireland I was pretty good at it.

You swam for Ireland on a national level?

Yep, the under 16s. I would swim three hours every morning before school and three hours every evening after school. I was totally dedicated.

You must have been super in shape, all kinds of muscle!

Oh yes, I was then, not anymore. (giggles) When you go from that kind of training and then stop doing that amount of swimming, you definitely lose a bit of the edge. I stayed in the water though, just cut back and just did more of the life saving. I even tried the mix of swimming and ballet, you know water ballet.

Do you teach swimming?

I did years ago, not anymore. I just don’t have the time but I’ve taught my children how to swim and that’s enjoyable.

See, that’s why I have grown so fond of these conversation, I feel like I’ve known you for a while but had no idea about these things. This is really great stuff!

We have a couple more questions here, you told me the best advice you’ve gotten, what’s the worst advice?

I don’t think anybody can give you really bad advice. There’s always some kind of message whether they’ve delivered it wrong way or you’ve interpreted it incorrectly, there’s always a message in there even if you don’t get it at the time. You can look back on that advice and take something from it. So I can’t recall any really bad advice.

That makes sense. You know, some people have responded quite quickly to that question, but it seems like even when they got bad advice they still took something away from it.

So last question, what’s the next activity or place you have your on bucket list?

So in the last few years, I’ve been raising money for ovarian and breast cancers. My mother passed away several years ago from those cancers. I’m not a natural runner but I’ve been doing 10ks and these obstacle courses as well, like Tough Mudder. It’s actually a lot of fun. I did my first one last year and I’ve completed a couple so far this year. I’ve got a couple more to complete. That’s something I’m really proud of doing because it’s not something natural for me to do or something I really enjoy, not to mention I’m not great at it either.

 

Dee Jarvis

 

So you’re a great swimmer, running not so much?

Terrible. I can do it but I don’t enjoy it. I don’t like it at all.

See, I love running.

Well there you go, you can run and I’ll swim. We could make a good team. Just need someone to bike and we have a full triathlon here.

Well like you said about swimming, for me it’s just very therapeutic.

For me swimming, I get all my thoughts out and things I need to do or things I don’t want to do.

Interesting, you know I do swim but I’m not a great swimmer. I’m self-taught and I used to go to the pool with relatives whenever they were going and I just kind of figured it out. This summer, my son and my wife are in India for their annual trip to visit with our family, which I take a few weeks to go as well. And the gym I go to has the best swimming pool in the entire area. Olympians come there. So I decided to enroll in a class to formally teach me, because I can do free style and all that, but it’s too uncultured. I want to really learn good mechanics.

And if you learn the stroke properly, you will have much more power behind your stroke.

That’s what I’m thinking. So my goal in those months, I want to go into swimming big time.

You know they will probably do more and more training with you around perfecting your strokes. Your arm stroke, your leg stroke, and on your kick. Because you run, you probably have strong legs, so don’t be surprised if they have you on a paddle board doing leg strokes a lot of the time. You have to learn one part of the stroke before the other part. It doesn’t naturally come together. You learn arms first then legs. Then you join them together.

I’ve been swimming for several years now but something you want to go with a professional and see how can I optimize it.

That is interesting, now you’ve got me curious about how it goes. Make sure you keep me posted on that!

Oh I will. I may be asking you for some pointers. So are there any questions you have for me or anything?

Well yeah, I may as well ask you. What’s on your bucket list or things you want to accomplish?

Well you know it’s constantly evolving, it is never static. Like this swimming thing, that is something I just recently added. But I’m always adding new stuff. You mentioned marathons earlier and that is something I may look into doing one of these days. I think that would be a real achievement I could be proud of.

Oh I’m sure you could do it. That would be awesome! Maybe we could set it up to have a bunch of Egnyters run the marathon together, that would be a fun group outing.

Absolutely!