December 11, 2015

Under the Infrastructure: Customers and customs make global HPC sales leader Jerry Gutierrez’s job enjoyable

December 11, 2015

Happy holidays! We can’t believe the year is already winding down. Under the Infrastructure has been so caught up in sharing our SLayer stories with you that the days have just flown by.

Speaking of flying, we’re excited to introduce you to one of our world voyagers, Jerry Gutierrez. He’s a global high performance computing (HPC) sales leader (say that one five times fast!) based in our Dallas headquarters—but you’d be hard-pressed to find him there these days. From South America to Asia, his busy schedule has him in meetings all over the map—and enjoying every minute of it.

Last month, Gutierrez celebrated his three-year mark with us. You ready to meet him?

SOFTLAYER: How would you explain your job to a layperson?

JERRY GUTIERREZ: I help sales teams globally identify and close HPC or accelerated computing-related sales opportunities. I also work with our product and marketing teams by way of customer feedback, marketing initiatives, and go-to market strategies around our HPC and accelerated computing products.

SL: Tell us about a day in the life of doing your job.

GUTIERREZ: I’ll give you an example. I was in Brazil this past week, in Sao Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro. I met with the sales teams there and gave them my insight into our GPU products from NVIDIA, along with some roadmap information. We then showed a really nice NVIDIA GRID demo for the customers and ran a small workshop around GPU-accelerated virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment. We aim to run these sessions with a small audience of technical influencers and we keep them interactive and hands-on. We traveled to one of the customer’s offices and showed a live demo to a full house—running their software on a virtual GPU-enabled workstation that was running from SoftLayer’s Sao Paulo data center.

After that, we took a flight to Rio, where we had additional meetings with the internal sales group and a workshop-style presentation with customers. I have a technical background, so I talked to them about the technology, showed the demo, and answered questions. I think this strategy is very effective and much more powerful than just doing a PowerPoint presentation and showing slides with the bits and bytes of the products we offer.

Following that, I met with a large local university and a couple of startups to discuss our Catalyst program. Because I’ve been with SoftLayer for quite a while as a former senior sales engineer and now in my current role, I’m comfortable speaking to everyone from large enterprise C-level execs to the fast moving startup groups.

Wherever I go, I’m excited to talk about SoftLayer. I enjoy that part of the job.

SL: People always wonder, “How does that apply to me?” when you’re showing them something new. You demonstrate how the platform can work for them.

GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. We find it very powerful. Customers get engaged. They sit up in their chairs. They ask questions. That’s very powerful to me. We almost take the sales part right out of it and we’re talking on a technical level: what are your challenges, what have you done so far, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked? In Brazil, the goal was to show, on a technical level, the capabilities of SoftLayer with NVIDIA technology running applications that they use in-house but deployed in the SoftLayer cloud—all with the same experience that they’re used to, with the added benefits of better security and scalability.

SL: So your position isn’t as much exclusively sales as it is possibilities.

GUTIERREZ: Right. Part of what I do is business development around accelerated computing (including GPUs) because I have a technical background, and I’m very passionate about it. (I actually manage the relationship overall between SoftLayer and NVIDIA). It’s very exciting see what our customers have created using our platform, especially with GPU technology.

SL: Your position is very global. What have you learned in dealing with customers around the world?

GUTIERREZ: Understanding the different cultures and what it means to do business in different cultures was a huge plus for me. For instance, in Japan, it’s very formal during business hours. But afterwards, you go to happy hour and people loosen up a little bit. I had several calls with our Japan team before I visited, and I felt there were some awkward silences. I didn’t know what the pauses meant because I wasn’t seeing their faces. I was wondering if I said something wrong or off. When I went to visit, I got to know their personalities. They want to ingest what you just said, so there’s a pause before they answer you. You can’t get a feel for personalities or body language over the phone, and video chat isn’t the same.

SL: If someone was interested in doing what you’re doing, what advice would you have?

GUTIERREZ: First, I would advise them to get a mentor. At SoftLayer, it’s extremely helpful for us to both have a mentor (and I would say a plus would be an IBMer that’s been with the company a while) and be a mentor—it’s actually highly encouraged at IBM, because that relationship can provide so many insights and help us along our career paths. Secondly, do what you love. If you love to be in front of customers and enjoy working with people and talking about technology like I do, pursue it. In my role, you’d want to have a technical background and a sales background as well. That’s really the mix for this role, since it’s very customer-facing—you’re doing presentations, thinking on the fly, and you need to be able to answer technical questions. Lastly, I would encourage them to pick a product, process, etc., to be the lead on or to champion and work to drive it and improve it. I found it very refreshing when I came to SoftLayer that it was not only open to this but that the company encouraged it—even though it was well out of my original job description. IBM is the same. Score!

SL: What’s the best places you’ve traveled and why?

GUTIERREZ: Tokyo and Rio. Tokyo is a very unique city. Tokyo is very clean, people are thoughtful and friendly. I’m a technical person and they have all the coolest technology. That’s the geek side of me talking! The food is fantastic, too. Rio is a totally different experience: beautiful beaches, beautiful weather, beautiful sights. The music, the food, it’s just phenomenal. And of course, the people. The people are extremely friendly.

SL: Those are pretty good favorites, we’d say.

Oh, and hey, if you’ve got any room in your suitcase, we wouldn’t mind hitching a ride around the world with you.

-Fayza

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