Daring to be different
It is an incredible honor to join SUSE as the new CEO and to be part of an inspiring group of innovators, challengers and disruptors. As I reflect on the proud history of this great company, I am excited and energized.
As one of the trailblazing companies to recognize the power of open source, SUSE was first in the 90s to bring Linux to enterprise customers. With each milestone – from launching SUSE Linux Enterprise Server to forming breakthrough alliances with the world’s leading technology vendors – SUSE has remained steadfastly true to its mission of innovation and open source. This company never stopped daring to be different. As I have spoken with customers, users and partners in the community, they have talked about SUSE’s innovative products and passion for open, open source as being the core on which this company has been built. This will continue to drive our success.
I have Nils to thank for such a strong foundation. Today, SUSE is the world’s largest independent open source software company. We’ve had eight years of continuous growth. We hit record revenues in FY18, and we are now, as an independent company, in a position to accelerate our growth and move at a speed like never before.
While we have seen great success, we are hungry and we are ready to achieve more. A community of innovators and challengers is never satisfied in their drive for greater impact, greater purpose, greater adventures. It is my job to honor this drive, celebrate our independence, remember our origins and ensure SUSE leads the way in a world that is increasingly embracing open source.
As SUSE embarks on its new chapter of growth, I’d like to share some of my background and what inspires me.
I am a newlywed and live in the UK with my husband, and together we have three young children. My family (being the eldest of 5!) has been one of my biggest sources of inspiration – leading me to prioritize understanding, empathy and keen listening in every area of my life. Many who know me say that I, too, am defined by daring to be different, never quite fitting into the standards. I started in IT as an SAP R3 developer as the only female in my cohort. As a woman, I am proud to have carved a longstanding career in technology and have always challenged the norm and dreamed big about what role I can play in the industry.
As the new CEO, I’m fortunate to have a platform from which I can be an activist and an advocate for openness, diversity and inclusion. I am passionate about mentoring and giving back to my community, while placing importance on diversity and inclusion. In addition, in my charitable work, I am particularly keen to look for ways to develop opportunities for girls to focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects at school, with the hope that they will go on to consider careers in the tech industry. I believe we can all give back more than we take.
Most of my recent career highlights have been in subscription-based businesses in high-growth cloud and transformation environments. In my last role at SAP, I was the chief operating officer and chief revenue officer where I was accountable for the worldwide revenue, operations, growth and customer satisfaction of the company’s ERP, hosting and infrastructure solutions (many of which were built using SUSE).
Prior to SAP, I held a number of executive positions at Salesforce including building the channel business and the Independent Software Vendor (ISV) and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) teams across international markets.
So, what’s next for SUSE as a company?
1. We remain bold, dream big and challenge the norm. We will never stop daring to be different. We will prioritize purpose and passion that is grounded in our utter and unwavering conviction that the work we do empowers customers and benefits the community. When open source remains at the heart of our ingenuity, ideas are freed, innovation is multiplied and communities built rapidly. The power of open source is customer and technology empowerment. It is continuous improvement. It is SUSE.
2. We will celebrate openness and diversity. In our open source world, community is not bound by physical attributes or location. By nature, open source spans geography, gender, political affiliation and life experiences. In that spirit, we must embrace diversity of thought, diversity of experience and diversity of opinions – recognizing that these will present opportunities for us to solve problems and capitalize on new opportunities more collaboratively. SUSE is open and integrated with our customers, our partners and our community. We will deliver solutions based on values to be proud of, and trust will be delivered in every relationship.
3. Finally, we will not be a follower and we will lead by example. We will not imitate others, instead we will continue to dare to be different. We will define our strategy and our future not based on any other market player but based on dreaming big about what we want to be, how we do it and how we service our customers. We will learn fast and look for ways to improve and do better than anyone in the market. Our customers will continue to be the heart of SUSE and they will be our focus, as they already are. We score top of class in customer peer review insights on Gartner, but we will not be complacent in our drive to further foster a customer-obsessed culture.
As an independent, SUSE is in control of its own destiny and focused on a customer- and partner-driven agenda. We will continue in our drive to be different and lead from the front.
As I embark on my SUSE journey I intend to keep you up to date with my adventures and experiences, the customers and partners I meet, and the insights and learnings I gather. More to come!
Before I sign off I would like to wish Nils the very best of happiness in his retirement. He has handed over the reins to me at such an exciting time in SUSE’s evolution as an independent company and I know we will build on the strong foundations he has left, by dreaming big and daring to be different.