As enterprises around the world embrace and advance their digitalization journey, digital transformation is having a profound impact on data growth. Data storage plays a pivotal role supporting this technological evolution. To deliver solutions that meet customers’ needs successfully, it is critical for a company’s core principles to align with customers’ desires and requirements. Phil Bullinger, a storage industry veteran with over 30 years of extensive experience, discusses how he has learned to apply his insights and expertise to create powerful customer-centric organizations. Today, as the CEO of Infinidat, Phil is building on these customer, product and team principles with the company poised to continue its accelerated growth trajectory in 2022.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Infinidat. What challenges did you overcome to reach where you are today?
My career in enterprise storage spans more than 30 years in various engineering and business leadership roles, from silicon to system-level technology and products. Data storage technologies and bringing customer-focused innovation to market in compelling products and services have been the persistent pursuit and driving focus of my career. Throughout this journey, I’ve had the very gratifying opportunity to work in great teams at several companies, including NCR, LSI, Oracle, EMC, Western Digital, and now at Infinidat.
I realized at an early point in my career journey that I enjoyed building and leading teams through challenging, complex endeavors. Over time and through many experiences, I’ve learned how to apply that focus to successfully scale businesses through strategic clarity, teamwork, organizational development, and an engaged, outcomes-focused leadership approach. The challenge of stepping into a new leadership role and shaping the culture and capabilities of an organization to drive growth and success has been a recurring opportunity that I’ve often embraced in my career, and those experiences prepared me well for the CEO leadership role at Infinidat.
Tell us something more about Infinidat, its mission and vision.
Infinidat was founded in 2011 by a team of storage industry experts focused on creating business value for customers by eliminating the compromises between performance, availability, and cost for enterprise storage. The company is recognized today as a leading provider of enterprise-class data storage solutions at a multi-petabyte scale, with a mission of empowering our customers’ data-driven aspirations and competitive advantage.
Infinidat’s software-defined storage architecture delivers microsecond latency, 100% availability, and scalability with a significantly lower total cost of ownership than competing storage technologies. The company offers an award-winning portfolio of three industry-acclaimed solutions – the InfiniBox® and InfiniBox™ SSA for primary storage and InfiniGuard® for modern data protection, disaster recovery, and cyber resilience.
Infinidat’s corporate headquarters are based in Herzliya, Israel, and our U.S. headquarters are based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the data storage industry through your expertise in the market.
Throughout my career in the data storage industry, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to contribute directly to products and businesses from silicon to systems that have defined and led their respective market segments. From transistor-level design to I/O controllers and system-level architecture, to file systems and rack-scale block, file, and object storage appliances, to engineering, operations, and business unit leadership, and now at the chief executive level, I’ve been able to impact the enterprise storage industry at almost every facet of the product ecosystem and in nearly every market segment.
What is your idea of impactful leadership?
While there are many positive traits that are important, in my experience there are a few key characteristics that are essential to effective leadership that can have a lasting impact on the culture and success of an organization: strategic clarity, authenticity, and empathy.
Most importantly, effective leaders establish strategic clarity throughout an organization, sharing their vision, establishing a strategic direction and how to achieve it, and motivating and inspiring individuals and teams by connecting their efforts to the mission and its success. Strategic clarity ensures that distributed, empowered teams execute in alignment and with purpose and pace across the multitude of tasks, projects, and workstreams in any organization.
As a critical foundation, effective leaders build sustainable, high-performing teams by establishing a culture of respect, positive intent, and accountability, building trust with honest and transparent communication, and authentically leading by example with integrity, passion, and hard work. Effective leaders also act with empathy, intentionally investing time and priority in better knowing and understanding their colleagues and coworkers throughout the organization.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
One of the characteristics that sets Infinidat apart in the industry is our acclaimed leadership in customer satisfaction and a reputation for consistently delivering a “white glove” experience across a wide spectrum of product, quality, and service dimensions. This customer-focused mindset is instilled and embraced throughout the organization and is a core element of our culture that drives our focus and execution. “We all work for sales” is a phrase I often reinforce at Infinidat, recognizing that absolutely everyone in the company – irrespective of their job function – plays an important role in positively impacting how customers perceive and experience our company as a trusted partner of their business.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for Infinidat?
I’ve been blessed to have a number of contributing and impactful experiences in the storage industry, from a summer intern in engineering development to executive-level product, operations, and go-to-market leadership in component, device, and system-level businesses. I’ve discovered that the CEO role at Infinidat allows me to apply – nearly every day – all those years of experiences while also expanding my experience in interacting directly with investors and our Board. The CEO role has also given me the direct ability to shape culture and develop the entirety of an organization around the fabric of values and teamwork that I believe are essential for sustainable success. It’s a very enjoyable and fulfilling role for me.
The goals for Infinidat are to continue our accelerated growth, building on the momentum we achieved in 2021, where the company posted a 40% year-over-year expansion in bookings and more than doubled our revenue in our Fortune 100 customer base. Our focus will remain on delivering high-impact, enterprise storage solutions that provide powerful business and technical value based on our state-of-the-art innovation and best-in-class customer experience. 2021 was a transformational year for the company in nearly every dimension of the organization, our product portfolio, and our business operations, and we’re positioned well for continued success and growth in 2022.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the tech space?
The half-life of a good idea in the tech space is about six months. Execution is the only sustainable advantage I’ve ever seen in my career. The tech industry “roadside” is littered with failed companies who thought of the idea first but were defeated by companies who persistently outexecuted them.