& cplSiteName &

Arista's CEO Shares Her Guiding Principles

Sarah Thomas
7/11/2016
100%
0%

Steve Jobs; her angelic sister Susie; and her father, a renowned physicist, are among the people Jayshree Ullal credits as being the great influencers in her life and her impressive career.

Through her experiences over three decades in the tech field, Arista Networks Inc. CEO Ullal says she's come to realize that it's not textbooks and formal educations alone that make great leaders -- rather, she says they are born naturally and shaped by their special skills and experiences. In addition to these three people in her life, Ullal also has three guiding principles that have shaped her Silicon Valley career. They include:

  • Pursue your gift and passion; believe in your mission; trust your gut and believe with passion.
  • Seize opportunities to make small or big impacts based on key decisions you take in the paths you traverse. "No one can predict the future but you can trust yourself and follow your convictions or whatever governs your belief system. Create your destiny, your turning point," Ullal says.
  • Value human relationships and connections, be they your loved ones, friends, family or your business colleagues.

Ullal's track record as a leader and technologist at the helm of networking infrastructure vendor Arista Networks, building the network operating system that powers the switches and routers for the Internet, earned her a finalist spot in both Women in Comms' Tech Pioneer of the Year Leading Lights award and Light Reading's 2016 Hall of Fame. (See WiC Leading Lights Finalists: Hedy Lamarr Award for Female Tech Pioneer of the Year and Hall of Fame 2016: The Candidates.)

Here, she shares more of her insights with WiC on the lessons she's learned over the course of her storied career.

Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks
Jayshree Ullal, CEO, Arista Networks


Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!

Women in Comms: What is your leadership style?

Jayshree Ullal: Arista was built and continues to thrive on passionate and talented people who make up the culture. That's my style; to cultivate that. We call this the "Arista Way," and the statements illustrate the culture at the company. For example, "Drive for customer success in every aspect: support, quality, innovation and experience." Doing the right thing is part of our heritage and it's no coincidence that it's core to our internal philosophy. My leadership style is based on this. I believe in great leaders and contributors who move the needle, not incrementalism.

WiC: What has been the most important lesson you've learned over your 25-plus year career?

JU: Events and experiences shape our lives. Six years ago, I lost my younger and only sister to lung cancer. Susie was only 46 years and the most angelic human being, connected to not only her family, but to her friends, community and beliefs. She has taught me the greatest and most valuable lesson in leadership -- to deeply appreciate our lives and the connections we make. Don't judge them, but cherish them. As human beings we all want to do a good job, be acknowledged and crave that appreciation. Treat your peers and team respectfully, cultivate their inner strengths and harness their full potential. My sister lived this and influenced me deeply. Although we couldn't save her life, her voice and motto lives within me always.

WiC: How have you maintained your company culture as you've grown from a startup to an established company?

JU: One of the main factors in retaining a startup feel is our unwavering focus on our mission and traits -- bring cloud scale to the data centers. While we have grown rapidly, we remain nimble both in our thinking, and in our ability to identify and solve complex customer problems with innovative engineering and agility. When the entire company is aligned and focused on common goals, we remain true to our entrepreneurial culture that we call the "Arista Way" and retain it with great pride.

WiC: How have changes in cloud computing affected your career path?

JU: After my career in multiple networking companies, including the acquisition of crescendo into Cisco, it was difficult to imagine greater growth success having experienced and contributed $0 to $10B of enterprise switching in a decade. My desire to go back to my entrepreneurial roots and start from the bottom rung to build a great company and culture motivated my next career path. It was also fraught with risk and trepidation.

When I joined Arista (Andy and I renamed it from Arastra), I began seeing and extrapolating a new vision for cloud networking. We entered the market in 2008 with low latency but the mission was bigger. A mission impossible: to disrupt the status quo and create a new modern cloud network. Through the past eight years we have achieved unimaginable growth and a leadership position.

Arista has differentiated from legacy networks by creating SDN before the term became fashionable. When Arista was founded, it was cool to fund Zynga, Facebook or LinkedIn, not infrastructure. I like to say we made networking cool (and sexy) again through:

  • A purpose-built, cloud networking platform with diverse "merchant silicon."
  • We built the game-changer for the cloud industry with the first open and fully programmable software stack, Arista EOS (Extensible Operating System), that simplifies and accelerates customer adoption.
  • Building an awesome team of engineers and executives who bring innovation and disruption to our customers.
  • By not doing it solo and building a strong ecosystem of partners in security, storage, compute, media and virtualization to build a best-of-breed solution.

WiC: As a female CEO in the tech industry, what's your biggest piece of advice for other women looking to progress to the top?

JU: Well, my advice for both men and women is the same, independent of gender. I would say: stay passionate, create your turning points and appreciate your human connections. For the women, I would say many have an intuitive gift of understanding and dealing with people uniquely that can be purposed well in high technology.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Director, Women in Comms

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
More Blogs from Mentor Monday
Yvette Kanouff is issuing a challenge to other comms execs: sponsor one diverse person to advance to the next level, creating a multiplier effect to improve the pipeline.
Rachel Kutz, VP of supplier diversity at AT&T, may have envisioned herself in outer space, but a rewarding career in telecom was a nice consolation prize.
Taking risks despite her fear helped Dawn Callahan become the CMO of WiFi provider Boingo, and inspired her to help other women keep moving up in the process.
Females in cybersecurity are highly underrepresented, so Verizon's Chandra McMahon shares her advice on how other women can follow her lead.
Women may be underrepresented in the next-gen comms industry, but there's no shortage of smart, talented and inspiring ones making a difference. We've profiled 65.
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
CommScope – Meeting the Demands of Tomorrow's Networks

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Phil Sorksy, Vice President International at CommScope, discusses addressing the challenges faced by service providers today, and as future trends emerge.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
AMS-IX & Huawei's OSN 902

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shows how its OSN 902 platform helps the Amsterdam Internet exchange to connect the world using multiplexing.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Smart Energy Innovation Center

3|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In Nuremberg, Huawei showcases its latest capabilities in the digitalization of Internet resources, network infrastructure and intelligence at its Smart Energy Innovation Center.
Valley Wonk
OFC & Hyperscale: A Good Mix?

3|24|17   |   01:50   |   (0) comments


Cloud and telecom players want different types of equipment for their networks, as the chatter at OFC reveals.
LRTV Custom TV
Etisalat on NFV Journey

3|24|17   |   10:37   |   (0) comments


Etisalat is a service provider that prides itself on bringing innovative technologies to the markets it serves. It was one of the first operators to implement 3G and leads the pack in fiber penetration. Now, Esmaeel Al Hammadi, Etisalat's SVP of Network Development, explains the operator's journey to virtualization, beginning with the network core, as well as the ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 3

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting on the application of technologies and key business verticals such as transportation, smart city, manufacturing, media and finance.
LRTV Documentaries
No Regrets: Cox's Finkelstein on Fiber & More

3|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein examines the cable capex conundrum.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Next-Gen: The 'Mile High' View From Denver

3|22|17   |   11:56   |   (0) comments


Alan Breznick kicks off the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies event in Denver, casting his thousand-yard stare over cable's current competitive landscape.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei at CeBIT 2017: Day 2

3|21|17   |   2:27   |   (0) comments


Light Reading reports from CeBIT 2017 in Germany, where Huawei is exhibiting digital transformation solutions around IoT, smart data centers, OpenCloud ecosystem and its newly announced storage-as-a-service solution.
LRTV Custom TV
Driving Better Mobile Customer Experience While Transforming the Mobile Network

3|21|17   |   7:47   |   (0) comments


The Citrix NetScaler mobile gateway is an intelligent traffic management solution which can markedly improve the customer experience provided by mobile operators, even when traffic is encrypted. Critical network services can be consolidated and virtualized using NetScaler. Because of the unique architecture, NetScaler can be deployed on any hypervisor, on a ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: What's Next for Mobile Payments?

3|21|17   |   7:49   |   (0) comments


2017 marks the fifth consecutive year for Mastercard at Mobile World Congress and it was a great time to reflect on the amazing advances the payments industry has made as well as discuss "What's Next' in the digital commerce future. We spoke to James Anderson, executive vice president of digital payments at MasterCard, about digital wallets to tokenization to ...
LRTV Custom TV
Mastercard: 2 Billion Adults 'Trapped' in Cash Economy

3|21|17   |   03:51   |   (1) comment


Despite advances made in the last several years, two billion adults around the world are trapped in a cash economy and lack what we take for granted -- a safe way to receive, save and use money. Shamina Singh, executive vice president of sustainability and president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, chats about how Mastercard is developing new ways to ...
Upcoming Live Events
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 3/21/2017
Eurobites: A1, Nokia Turn It Up to 11
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 3/22/2017
FTTH No Slam Dunk for Cable
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/23/2017
Welcome to the Wild West of Privacy
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 3/24/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
At MWC 2017, Qualcomm's CTO Matt Grob talks to Light Reading's CEO and Founder Steve Saunders about the progress being made in the development of the technologies and standards that will underpin 5G.
Animals with Phones
Neither Do We Click Here
Is that a prerequisite?
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.