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Monthly Archives: July 2013

VMware’s Marianna Tessel, 2013 Woman of Influence, on Technological and Personal Discovery

VMware employees contribute their best work to imagine, define, and deliver the future of IT through transformative products and solutions that enable customer agility, efficiency, security, and fault tolerance in the Cloud era. Take a look at Marianna’s story on discovering her path in the technology industry, being recognized as a Silicon Valley Business Journal 2013 Woman of Influence and getting things done with her teammates to define what’s next! 

 

Name: Marianna Tessel 

Job title: Vice President of Engineering          

Years at VMware: 5

Office location: Palo Alto, California

 

How did you get started in the technology industry and what led you to where you are today? 

My parents are both engineers so it seemed an obvious path, however I always had a passion for medicine and originally thought I wanted a career in that field. When it came time to choosing an area of focus in college, I realized that having a computer science degree could open so many doors in a variety of fields – so I pursued that instead. I was offered a leadership opportunity early on in my career and really liked the role. Since then I’ve held various leadership positions at several companies and have learned a ton from each one. Of course a lot of hard work has led me to where I am today along with a passion for technology and working with people.

What are some of the exciting things currently happening in the technology industry from your perspective?

There’s so much cool stuff happening in multiple areas of technology. I’m most excited about how information is connecting to the Internet and is easily available. It seems like we’re only seeing the tip of what’s to come! I feel fortunate to be in an industry and company that is enabling that revolution.

The Silicon Valley Business Journal recently named you a 2013 Woman of Influence. What does this recognition mean to you?

I was extremely honored to receive the award and be recognized with such a great group of women. While our industry tends to be male dominant, I think it’s fantastic the publication celebrates female leaders in our community.

What has been a memorable example of teamwork and getting things done since you’ve been at VMware?

VMware’s release of vSphere 4.0 comes to mind. Teamwork and getting things done are the foundation of what goes into developing and shipping a product release – it’s really a collective effort across the company. vSphere 4.0 was the first major product release to ship after I joined the company – and at the time, my role was to bring together various R&D and product teams to define how we worked with multiple technology partners pre/post release, how could those key partners leverage vSphere’s capabilities, and also determine the impact the release would have on our ecosystem. It was a new role for me, for VMware – and groundbreaking on so many levels, but I was glad to have been a part of that strategy and effort. And I’ve been driving and fostering that type of collaboration ever since!

If you could walk in someone’s shoes for a day in your field or industry who would it be and why?

Tough question, but I’d continue to walk in my own shoes… I still feel like there’s more for me to learn and do!

What advice would you impart on someone looking to grow professionally at VMware?

It’s always a smart idea to focus on doing a great job and trust that the right things will follow. A good way to progress professionally is to learn from others – each company has a little different recipe for success! Also look at what successful people do around you, and consider finding a mentor – someone that can help you brainstorm, map out your career and give you feedback on all levels.

So what’s next from your perspective in 2013 and beyond?

On a personal level, I’m looking forward to spending time with my sons this summer and taking some family vacations! And on a professional level, we have VMworld happening in the second half and that is always exciting time. It’s a time when we announce new products, and there’s a lot of work that goes on to get to that point. In fact, my team is working on new ways to enable partners and more on this initiative will be available that time as well.

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Konstantin Spirov, Sr. Software Engineer on his IT Journey and Driving What’s Next in the Software-Defined Data Center at VMware

VMware employees contribute their best work to imagine, define, and deliver the future of IT through transformative products and solutions that enable customer agility, efficiency, security, and fault tolerance in the Cloud era. Take a look at Konstantin’s story on discovering his passion for technology in the 1980’s to collaborating with his VMware colleagues on the next game-changing technology in the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).

 

Name: Konstantin Spirov

Job title: Senior Software Engineer, vCenter Orchestrator

Years at VMware: 3

Office location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Favorite tech gadget: My ergonomic keyboard with angle adjustment capability and my “Pomodoro” kitchen timer.

 

How did you get started in software technology and what led you to where you are today?

In the late 80’s (the last years of the communist regime in Bulgaria), the eastern clones of Apple II and IBM PC XT became extremely popular in our country. And because of this, a new generation of IT specialists were born within the mathematical gymnasiums and universities. I was among this generation. We enjoyed connecting through FidoNet, hacking and supporting BBS-es and writing computer viruses and E-ZINES. At the end of the day, it was this generation of IT specialists that decided to make a change and help drive what’s next.

Several of my friends became the founding fathers of the first ISP in Bulgaria. And because of this, two decades later, Bulgaria has one of the most well performing national Internet backbones. I decided to grow in a different direction by pursuing software development. My professional career as a software engineer began almost 20 years ago. SOClass, one of the projects I started as a lead developer, is currently used as a platform for electronic documents in custom offices of more than 30 nations worldwide (and counting). Now, in my role at VMware, I enjoy working on a product suite that powers a large number of data centers around the world.

What is a typical day at VMware like for you?

I spend a majority of my time for planned work, while also attending to other responsibilities such as the maintenance of products, job interviews for new VMware candidates and service requests. From time to time I use my kitchen timer to practice the Pomodoro Technique too. My timer rings so powerfully, that it can wake up the entire floor…which can be quite entertaining.

Tell us what it has been like to help drive the Software-defined Data Center (SDDC) initiative?

It’s a great challenge, but also a great responsibility! The opportunities are numerous, but there is one larger danger and that is to provide inconsistent solutions. The most important battle is the battle against the complexity. It should be easy to manage virtual data centers.

What do you think is the greatest barrier to wider adoption of SDDC?

It’s a subject of time, nothing else. What is the adoption of the tape recorder today? I maintain my MP3 collection in the cloud and I don’t bring any cassettes or tapes with me. We won’t convince everyone if we talk about abstractions such as SDDC, IaaS, Layer 1 and Cloud. The important thing is that the Software-Defined Datacenter gives us an opportunity to solve everyday problems. For example, the live migration of running virtual machines was a game changer and the benefit is now clear to everyone. Could it be done without virtualization? Another good example – the ability for antivirus programs to offload the memory and process scanning from the VM – and now the fundamental problem with the rootkit detection looks quite differently.

What is your favorite VMware memory?

I appreciate moments of “small victories”. For example, a meeting that I had with a customer that was planned for two hours, but only lasted 15 minutes because we were able to resolve all outstanding issues was great. I also like to travel (but only moderately), so I remember very vividly my business trips to other VMware sites.

Innovation is a core part of VMware’s culture. Share an example of how you, a coworker, or a group of employees pushed the boundaries to allow for new thinking and ultimately helped define what’s next in IT.

At VMware we have freedom to innovate, but we also have great responsibility to execute on our ideas. This can be seen in the vCenter Orchestrator team through our Innovation Days tradition. During these days, we set out to work on projects that are not in our everyday work plans. However, there is one catch. We only implement the projects through peer programming. If you are unable to convince at least one person from your team that your idea is meaningful then your idea will not move forward at that point in time. This process allows individuals to step back and realize that their idea might need to be thought through more thoroughly. The system really works for our site. Some of the official product features such as SNMP Plug-in (now used by vCOps for auto-remediation), workflow version control (one of the top features requested by the customers, enable backup/restore and staging), auto layout in the GUI designer and Wavemaker integration started from these innovation days.

Do you have a thought leader or person you admire in your field or industry? Who and why?

Leaders who are brave, have vision and push for transparency inspire me. Jonathan I. Schwartz, the man who open sourced Java and led the battle for survival of Sun Microsystems (the happy-ending is not always mandatory) is one of those individuals. Former VMware CEO, Paul Maritz, with his vision for the Cloud and the way individuals write software, which is now a market reality in 2013. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with great leaders who have inspired me in my own career growth at VMware.

What advice would you impart with those interested in growing their careers in the IT space?

Learn how to focus, how to plan and how to execute. Cultivate the capability to ask strict questions and give strict answers. As the landscape is constantly changing, be brave and not afraid to challenge yourself. Yes, sometimes we can be very intelligent, but sometimes we are unable to see very trivial things, things obvious to the people around us. That’s why every professional should not be afraid to ask for feedback (not only from his or her coworkers, but from family members too). If you don’t like your job, find the reason, and if you like your job too much, try not to let it ruin your work life balance.

What’s next for you this year?

My close plans are connected to vCenter Orchestrator (vCO). I enjoy vCO’s ability to work in complex environments, integrate the different tiers quickly, and its ability to coordinate the exchange of information. Last year the market adoption of vCO exceeded all expectations. This brings with itself new challenges, so my team must optimize the way we test, support, and get the tasks done. Our customers trust us and we should always respond with great respect.

 

 

 

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