Adrian runs the Asia Pacific & Japan business of Automation Anywhere. The company is growing rapidly in the space of robot process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI). The company had 200% growth last year just in Asia alone. Automation Anywhere creates what are classified as digital workers. What humans do from moving stuff from A to B, can be done from a digital workforce perspective using software bots, not physical robots.
Adrian Jones has been running sales organizations for large IT organizations for close to 30 years. He has worked with big companies like Oracle, HP, and Symantec. He runs a company now called Automation Anywhere. He was always interested in technology from his early childhood. He studied Engineering at Oxford in England and then got into business after that instead of engineering. He worked for Panasonic early in his career and learned all about technology.
What surprised you the most when you started your career, what lessons did you learn?
When I started my career, I started in a big company. I was surprised at how responsible I had to be and how fast everything moved. Particularly in the innovation technology industry, the products and the technology change very quickly.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone starting in your industry?
Learn everything you can about the industry. A lot of people come into industries without really understanding. They may learn about the products they are selling or what their company does, but they should really learn the industry from its foundation, how it began, to where it is today. People should take the time to look back in history to know why companies do what they do today and where they came from.
If you could change anything about your industry what would it be and why?
I would really make sure we have people in this industry that understand the technology. It is not just another product. I would try to change the way that people view IT technology and how it helps humans that is just for profit. Sometimes it is not as much about innovation as it is profitability. I think the technology still needs to be innovative in what we do versus profit related.
How would your colleagues describe you?
I have a lot of energy, more energy than my team, which they get fed up about because I can go to 10:00 or 11:00 at night every night. They would describe me as a very high energy person. I am very passionate about what I do. I am also a guy that leads from the field, not from an office. I am in the trenches with my team every day with customers, partners, etc. I never have much downtime. I am switched on all the time. I am on or I am off.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I don’t. I try, but it’s not easy. That’s a flaw in me. I don’t have a very good work/life balance. It is more work than life. It is actually a motivational thing for me because I love what I do. I love leading teams of people and customers. There are times in everybody’s day that it’s too much and you need to take a break, but I don’t think I would do anything else. As I’ve gotten older, I have gotten better at having some balance, but I still have the thrill of what I do every day and it’s not easy to let it go.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
My biggest obstacle in life was when I was 18 years and lost my best friend that I had grown up with. I realized then that I was never going to give up. Unfortunately, he took his own life. It was a very difficult time for me. It was not expected. I learned that I will never give up on the people I work with. There is a story I tell employees about why I do what I do because I saw my friend give up on life, and it shaped me for the rest of my career. The advice that I have taken is that I never want to give up. It’s made me try harder, work harder, and do everything I can to help and not give up on my people. It’s something that changed me early on in my personal life that made me better in my career.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
I spent eight years working at HP and Oracle, and my role model at that time was my boss, Mark Hurd. He is no longer with us. He died last year of cancer, but he was my boss and my role model for many years. He was the CEO of HP and Oracle. I learned a lot of good things from him from how he led people and organizations. He was a very passionate and energetic leader and a role model for me.
What does success look like to you?
Success for me is not about individual success. It’s about how I look at my team’s success, and how we all enjoy that together. My team has been with me for many years and in many other companies too, and so I look at success collectively with them. It’s getting to a place where everyone knows that they did their best no matter what the result. It is making sure that we have a team of people that are happy about what they do every day, happy about coming to work, and driving, not just business, but their personal values for them.
What is one piece of advice you would like to leave our readers with?
If you are a manager today, I think you have to lead by living what you believe in from your personal life and bringing that to work. Most managers don’t like to be vulnerable. Most sales leaders or managers have a title and they think it gives them something because they have that title, and the key is actually how you take those walls down so that people will follow you up the hill, so I think living your personal values at work is the most important thing you can do.