Darren Oberst, Senior Corporate Vice President and Global Head of HCLSoftware, joins Innodata’s Podcast, Absolute AI, as a guest on the topic, Conversations With the Humans Behind Artificial Intelligence. Darren discusses how he transformed his lifelong passion into a career in international leadership.
CODING AS A KID
At 10 years old, Darren learned to program. He wrote computer games, sold them to friends and even wrote his own computer language. As a techie at heart and a machine learning hobbyist, he eventually moved to the business side.
DRIVING INNOVATION AT HCLSoftware
Five years ago, Darren was part of the founding team of HCLSoftware, and is now responsible for the P&L, Product Development, Sales, Operations, and Strategy for the HCLSoftware business unit. In these five short years, HCLSoftware grew to one of the three major reported segments of HCL Technologies with over $1B in revenue, 16,000+ customers, in more than 100 countries, with a product portfolio of 50+ different products.
- 2:05 Choices of study and how it impacts your future
- 6:00 Driving innovation at HCLSoftware
- 10:40 Cloud native strategy
- 12:30 Start with the data
- 19:10 Challenges of AI
- 29:06 Leadership perspectives
CLOUD NATIVE STRATEGY: CRAWL, WALK, RUN
Darren credits HCLSoftware success to the clear objective of modernizing and containerizing HCLSoftware products to drive customer success. He shares HCLSoftware’s cloud native strategy and the recent cloud native launch. He emphasizes the importance of getting the right foundation in place:
- Start with the product and modernize the underlying architecture
- Build out functionality and make it easy to consume (focus on key UI/UX elements)
- Accelerate high-impact features
- Componentize the product, expose APIs
- Focus on containerization
The foundation of this architectural strategy, cloud native and API-first, gives clients the ability to rapidly innovate new capabilities and components across our products – from automation, DevOps, commerce and marketing, to digital solutions, and security. It gives strategic choices to our clients to avoid ‘lock-in’ and have the flexibility to control their data, mix-and-match among different tools, and to build their own solution architecture.
PREDICTIVE TECHNOLOGIES ARE THE FUTURE
Darren shares his passion for machine learning and his thoughts on predictive technologies. Like many, he’s intrigued by large scale data, how to identify statistical patterns and automate functions that only humans were able to do. He acknowledges the complications of applying the data to the real world, for example, those of autonomous cars. He advises to keep data models simple, start with a clear, well-defined, narrow scope and use high quality data.
Darren touches on his international postings in India, China, and Spain. He encourages leaders that manage teams outside of their home country to embrace new cultures, jump in and enjoy the journey. He shares a lesson learned after facing language barriers in China and how sometimes the best ideas don’t always come from the loudest in the room. He reminds us that there are many different styles and personalities that teams and managers should embrace to create an environment where everyone is able to share their ideas and thrive.
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More About Darren Oberst
Darren was part of the founding team of HCLSoftware, and is now responsible for the P&L, Product Development, Sales, Operations, and Strategy for the HCLSoftware business unit. Darren joined HCL in 2014, and prior to this role, he served as the Global Head of Corporate Development.
Before joining HCL, Darren spent 10 years at IBM in a diverse set of leadership roles across Software, IT Services, and BPO. He launched and ran businesses in the US, Europe, and Asia, with international postings in India, China, and Spain. Early in his career, Darren also served as the Senior Vice President and General Manager for webMethods, a leading e-business infrastructure software company, and launched several new initiatives in Industry Solutions and Vertical Product Offerings in the early 2000s.
Darren started his career in the Silicon Valley as an investment banker at Robertson Stephens, serving as the Managing Director and Group Head of the Software Corporate Finance Practice, completing over 40 Equity and M&A transactions.
Darren has a JD with Honors from Harvard Law School, and a BA summa-cum-laude from UC-Berkeley with dual degrees in Physics and Philosophy. Darren lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, with his wife and son, and in the rare moments not completely consumed by HCLSoftware, his hobby is machine learning.