The future has already arrived, and it is in the form of 5G. But Oracle brings the cloud native future into the next level with the 5G Next Gen Core. Diving deep into this monumental invention with Carrie Charles is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Oracle, Andrew Morawski. He shares what this improved cloud means for both customers and operators, how to use it for network slicing, and how it impacts various 5G products today. Andrew also talks about his professional experiences in behavioral interviews, explaining the best practices to make applicant screening more about in-depth storytelling focused on data and less of a tedious and shallow meeting. Moreover, he lists down the most important factors every great business leader today must possess.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Oracle Culture Is Driving The Cloud Native Future With Andrew Morawski
I have a special guest that I’m super excited about. It is Andrew Morawski. He is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Oracle Communications. Andrew, thank you so much for being on the show.
Carrie, thank you so much for having me. I’m looking forward to it.
Andrew, we met on LinkedIn. I looked at your profile and I thought, “What an incredible background that you have.” You came from telecom and went to a tech company. Can you talk a little bit about your journey and how you got here?
First off, a lot of people don’t know that I started my career as an installer. I realized quickly though that I enjoyed interacting with customers on-site more than I enjoy the installation work. I was able to leverage that experience into an enterprise sales job at Nortel. I ended up being one of the top performers in the division and was asked to move over into carrier services. I did that for a few years too and was fortunate enough to be part of the team that closed the largest deal in Nortel’s history at the time, which was $1.4 billion when Southwestern Bell bought Pac Bell and created SBC. The team got high profiled and from there, a handful of folks had left Nortel to start a company called Transwire, which was the first competitor to Covad offering high-speed internet services based on Nortel’s 1-meg modem. It makes me feel so old to hear.
You’ve been around for a while. That’s good. It’s the experience.
We did that for a few years, then it’s sold to Comdisco. Right when the dot-com bubble was bursting, I got a call from a recruiter asking if I was interested in being part of an international business. That call ended up being for Telstra, where I ended up working for ten years with my final four years being President and CEO of their Americas subsidiary. It’s pretty hard to take that jump from sales leadership to CEO. The one thing I credit Telstra with is they had a coach who worked with me for six months, and shadowed me and helped me make that transition from sales to a true P&L manager. I don’t see it today. A lot of times, you’ll see people thrown into the fire. If you’re successful, you get promoted. You end up not having the tools that you need to be successful in the role.
There's no doubt that network slicing is one of the game-changing capabilities of 5G.
Click To Tweet
I was a coach for years. That’s what I did as an executive coach.
I’m sure you’ve helped many people.
I did. What happened after that?
After that, I went to become an MD of the Americas for Cable & Wireless. I did that for a few years until Vodafone bought us. Whenever you’re acquired by someone, you’re either going to have a job or you’re not going to have a job. I was extremely fortunate to not only survived the acquisition but also ended up in an incredible role running the IoT division in the Americas. It was such a great job. It was super exciting for me. First of all, I had no IoT experience, which made it interesting for me. It was the first time I went from being a generalist to being a specialist. I felt like I grew from that opportunity.
After doing that successfully for over four years, I was asked to take on the President role for Vodafone in the Americas. I did that for a couple of years and one day, I got a call from an internal executive recruiter at Oracle for the role I’m in now. I wasn’t looking to go anywhere but it seemed like an exciting opportunity to join a great company and I never thought I’d be able to make that jump from telco to tech. It’s a self-limiting belief, “You’re a telco person. You’ll never get into tech,” but it was the perfect storm of opportunity, timing and experience that I decided to take the plunge, and I haven’t looked back since.
Telco and tech are converging as it is. Many people are looking to make that jump and thinking, “How can I get into tech? How can I get over there?” Truly, it’s all coming together. I’d like you to talk about Oracle’s role in 5G a little bit.
What I get most often is when people hear Oracle, they think of industry-leading databases, enterprise applications, OCI or cloud infrastructure. Oracle does a lot more than that. To explain where my organization sits within Oracle, we’ve got ten vertical business units that specialize in building solutions for specific industries. That’s everything from healthcare to retail to construction engineering. The communications business that I lead is one of those global business units. What we do is specialize in providing telecom solutions to carriers and enterprises. Our products are in thousands of customer networks around the world, including all the top twenty carriers. A lot of times, we end up being the best-kept secret. If you’re not in that space, you don’t know how Oracle plays so people are quite surprised. When I have a conversation with them and tell them that I run Oracle Communications, they’re like, “What’s that?”
That’s exactly what I thought, “What’s that?” We need to talk about that because I hadn’t seen that before.
Our strategy has always been to create market-leading products and over the years, we’ve built a strong portfolio across signaling policy and routing for both 3G and 4G, as well as session border control. We built on that heritage and foundation in our approach to 5G, which is truly going to be transformative for the industry. We focused on offering a cloud-native core network solution that’s enabling our customers to build the most feature-rich and high-performance 5G networks out there. I’m not a technical guy. I never pretended to be, but one of the aspects of 5G that plays to Oracle’s strength is the fact that it’s a cloud-native technology. That led us to be the only 5G solutions provider in the market with unlimited access to hyper-scale cloud platform experience and skills. Everyone else is AWSs and Microsofts. They weren’t in the telco space yet when we started. Microsoft stepped in with one acquisition, but we took full advantage of having that expertise in our approach to designing our 5G products and it’s been super helpful.
Speaking of that cloud–native networking and what you’ve created, there’s something called the 5G NextGen Core. Can you talk about that a little bit more and help us understand what that means to operators and your customers?
Realizing 5G is a cloud-native technology has been the singular focus of our design approach. All our 5G products have been designed from the ground up as cloud-native solutions. That approach has let us leverage the benefits of a cloud environment in our 5G portfolio in a way that solutions based on legacy software that was repurposed to run in the cloud just can’t. We didn’t stop there when we were building our products. We help our customers realize the best performance from their 5G networks. We designed our own cloud-native environment that our customers can use to deploy their 5G functions. Not just Oracle’s, but any other cloud-based function as well.
Our ability to bring together Oracle’s cloud experience and our telecom expertise enabled us to build an environment specifically designed to support a specialized workload like a 5G core network. Similarly, when you look at 5G network functions, we focused on building a portfolio as one of the strongest products in the industry. Not to get too technical, but we concentrated on the control plane and our offerings to build on that heritage of signaling policy and routing. Having that focus, we put our energy into making every Oracle product best in class when it comes to networks. That’s what the customers need.
Knowing something and knowing how to deliver it are two different things.
Click To Tweet
You are on the cutting edge with that. It’s a match made in heaven, for sure. I hear a lot about network slicing. I know you said that you’re not a technical person, but can you speak about that a little bit, the why, the benefits? What is it?
For anyone who’s thinking about making that career change, I’ve never been a technical person. Where I’ve found success is focusing on the business impacts of the technology. When I took over that IoT role, I didn’t understand IoT, I didn’t know IoT, I couldn’t spell IoT, but what I did was focus on the impacts that technology has on businesses. That enabled me to step forward in the industry as an industry thought leader. I was designated as an industry thought leader by Wireless World Magazine or something like that back then. I didn’t have any mobility experience, but everybody gets so focused on that technology that they forget there’s another part of it. That allowed me to carve a little niche out for myself from a thought leadership perspective. That’s a bit of a sidebar from your question.
There’s no doubt that network slicing is one of the game-changing capabilities of 5G. One of the main problems carriers face is the number of different services and applications that run on their networks. There are so many of them and they all have different performance and quality demands, whether it be the simple best effort, low bit rate, messaging services to mission-critical, high definition video applications. It’s a wide range of services that they need to handle on a single network. The problem for carriers has been that they need to build their networks for the most demanding services. From an investment perspective, it’s been difficult to segment the different services in a way that avoids them having to over-invest for services that don’t need full capabilities or similar capabilities to more intensive ones.
Slicing is going to let a carrier take their single 5G network and break it apart virtually. It’s multiple networks and you then build slices to support various specific service characteristics. That lets the carrier then tailor the capability and the investment to what the slice needs to support. For carriers, it’s going to be a huge step forward for controlling their investments and also giving them better network utilization. For enterprises, they’ll be able to get customized network solutions that meet the specific needs of their application. Everyone wins when it comes to network slicing. It’s an exciting feature of 5G.
You did a great job explaining it because I’m also not a technical person and I understood you perfectly, so thank you.
That’s fantastic. I’m learning. My head of strategy would be proud of me.
You got an A-plus for that. I want to go back to what you said that you didn’t have an experience in IoT and you didn’t know much about it. Many times when people look to make a career change, they want to check all the boxes. They want to make sure that they can get into this role and be successful, especially as a leader. I want to commend you for taking that step because we don’t need to know. Many times, it’s about having all the other skills and being able to step into that role and learn. We need to take more risks especially in this new environment of telecom with the network virtualization and convergence. We have to take the risk, upskill, rescale and learn this tech in order to advance. Am I right?
One hundred percent. One of the things that I’ve come to realize at this point in my career is that knowing something and knowing how to deliver are two different things. You don’t have to know everything to be able to deliver something. For people who want to try to get into tech from telco, my advice would be to focus on understanding an industry and bring that industry expertise to a tech company. That’s what I did. I worked for quite some time in telco for twenty years alone between Telstra and Vodafone. I knew the carrier world and the telco industry. When Oracle was searching for someone for this job, they wanted someone from the industry, someone who understood the customer and the segment. Even though I never sold software or SaaS services before, and I’ve never run a business that had these components, I was still a viable candidate for the job.
I know you’ve talked a little bit about your products and offerings. You may want to go into a little bit more depth there on the 5G products and the customers that you serve.
From a customer perspective, we’ve got thousands of customers that work around the world. As far as our 5G customers go, they’re the early adopters who are already deploying a 5G core network standalone architecture. Typically, they’re the leading Tier-1 carrier in each of the markets and we’ve been super successful in getting a significant number of them as our customers. The great thing about that is being part of these early deployments has helped us gain a ton of expertise in deploying 5G networks, and that’s lacking in the marketplace. It’s another part of what we bring together for our customers, the ability to not sell them products or services but to give them the telecom and cloud experience of Oracle as they start to deploy 5G. It’s something that expertise and experience are lacking in the market, in my opinion.
I want to switch gears a bit because, on LinkedIn, you wrote an article, which I thought was so fascinating. It’s instinct versus facts when hiring. Can you talk a little bit about your thoughts on instinct versus facts?
I’ve grown a lot in this area. I used to be the guy who would show up to the interview, looking at the resume right before the meeting, had a chat, and went with what my gut told me about the candidate. I’m sure you have seen and see a ton of that. I look back on it now and I shake my head because it’s such a waste of time. I was quite fortunate that the majority of the time, I hired the right people. Going back to my days at Telstra, in my 8th or 7th year, I was fortunate enough to have been trained in behavioral interviewing. I would prepare for interviews and spend upwards of two hours with the candidate. I’d have a real discussion about their experiences and things that they’ve done in their career that shows they’ve got the experience needed to be successful in the role that they’re interviewing for.
Past behavior predicts future performance.
Click To Tweet
I still depend on instincts a bit for judging if someone is genuine or not because that’s quite important to me as a leader. We hired a few regional heads around the world and the final candidates, I spent two hours with each of them. One of them was 2.5 hours and I’m not that guy who makes it painful for you. If you have the right questions tied to what you want the person in the world to be able to deliver, it turns into a fantastic conversation. I’ve gotten positive feedback on it from people who did well. The people who didn’t, I don’t enjoy interviewing.
Can you share one question without giving away too much? I don’t know if it’s your secret, but maybe share one behavioral interview question that you like.
It depends on the role. They’re all different but from a leadership perspective, “How would your team describe your leadership style? Can you give me an example of why they would describe you that way?” It’s digging in, “How would your peers and other managers describe you in the business?” It’s all flowing as you’re digging down and as you’re going through the questions. “What role does leadership play for a manager of managers? How have you demonstrated this? Can you give me an example of how you’ve demonstrated this? Can you tell me about a time when things got tough? How did you rally your team to build morale?” It’s that stuff.
You’re digging into someone’s experience. It’s almost guiding them to start storytelling because those are the most successful interviews. I remember my interview with my boss at Oracle, a gentleman named Mike Sicilia. It was our third meeting but was our first in-person meeting. He asked maybe 1 or 2 questions and the rest was storytelling and discussion. As a candidate, you’ve got to be prepared to go in and tell that story of yourself and have examples of what you’ve done because everybody writes what you do on your resume, but how do you bring that to life?
How do you tell the story around, “I spoke to this person and did this? This didn’t work so I went here and worked on A, B, C and D, and we were able to turn around the entire project,” and things like that. A lot of candidates don’t realize coming to an interview that if you ask the right question, that gives you an opportunity to tell your story. You can talk for 30 minutes about the things you’ve done. That gives a hiring manager confidence in you and your ability because I’ve seen that you’ve done it before and that’s the whole premise for me of behavioral interviewing. Past behavior predicts future performance.
I love that because candidates sometimes don’t make their story come to life and give those examples. It’s more like, “I’m a multitasker. I’m a great leader. I’m this and that.” Having those examples is crucial. The other thing you said, which stuck with me is that you prepare for your interviews. That is something that’s missing these days with many leaders because we’re so busy and people are running from meeting to meeting. That preparation time gives you a moment to craft your messaging. Looking at the instinct versus facts article, I’ll have to admit that I run a lot of my life through instinct, right through the gut or the intuition as women call it. I thought it was interesting because you’re right, if we based on our gut, we have to be careful because we have biases that can get in the way of hiring. That was screaming out at me when I read your article and I thought, “That’s so smart because you take that bias out of it.” I enjoyed that so thank you.
There are two parts to it. You’ve got the assessment side and the instinct side. You have to find a middle ground because, from an instinct perspective, you’re most comfortable with people that are like you. If you’re both type-A personalities, if you are both comfortable, your intuition can be clouded. There’s the other end of the spectrum. I’ve had people that are like, “We put people through the Korn Ferry Assessment. The person didn’t test well, but they seem to be a good candidate.”
I’m not a big fan of any of those assessments at all, maybe because I don’t test well. I don’t feel like it’s an indicator of what someone is capable of unless it’s a specific technical role where you need to test the skill. It’s hard to find that balance. You’ve got to find a way to turn off your bias and also understand the technical aspects of the role you’re hiring for. That’s why I feel like if you can extract storytelling from a candidate, you’ve done a good job. I feel horrible and I’ll apologize to people here now for all the interviews that I conducted that way because it’s not fair to a candidate. You’ve got to give them an opportunity.
The other thing I like to do is interview people that I like multiple times because sometimes people have a bad day or sometimes people have a great day. You’ve got to get a real cross-section, either seeing them multiple times yourself or have them seeing multiple people within the organization. Those regional roles that we hired for around the world went through probably 6 or 7 round of interviews with different folks throughout the business. It’s as much to educate them on the business as it is to get an understanding of who they are, how they work, and how they operate.
I see a book in your future on interviewing and hiring tactics. I see it in my crystal ball.
If you will ghostwrite it for me, I’ll be more than happy to do that.
I’ll do that in my spare time, for sure. You are a great leader. You’ve accomplished so much. In your view, what are the three characteristics or factors that make a great leader in today’s world? It’s different now than it was years ago.
The most successful interviews are all about storytelling.
Click To Tweet
I was fortunate to be ahead of this curve, and I had some personal things that went on in my life that made me reflect on what’s important. I lost my sister to cancer. She was in her 40s. It makes you think, “Why am I doing this? What am I doing?” One of the things is finding the passion that I want to pursue. The other thing is empathy. That’s probably the first one, especially in the times that were operating now. On top of empathy is authenticity. You’ve got to be real and genuine if you’re going to want anyone to follow you or to trust you. Leadership now is about building trust, especially since all those jobs that I walked you through earlier were turnarounds for the most part. When you step into a turnaround environment, and you’ve got people that are beaten down, people who think, “We’re not successful,” you’ve got to get them to believe in something, but they’ve got to believe in you first.
If you’re not authentic, you’re not going to get that trust from your employees. The third one is ownership. It’s leading from the front. I always said that since my first sales job, I would never ask anyone to do that. I didn’t want to do something that I wouldn’t do myself. That’s how I lead. I take ownership of things. I make sure that I’m not asking anyone to do things that I don’t do myself. I don’t push people to work on weekends. I don’t feel that whole “If you’re working hard and you’re killing yourself, that says you’re a great employee.” It’s the opposite. If you’re a well-rounded person who knows how to get their job done from 9:00 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 6:00, whenever people work, I have as much respect for you as I do for the person who’s putting in ten hours a day. They are different kinds of people. I don’t ask anyone to put in 10 to 12 hours a day. I ask people to do what I do and be passionate about what you’re doing and care about the people that you work with.
Can I come work for you? You’re so inspiring. Are you hiring? I’m good at behavioral interviews.
In a heartbeat.
Thank you for sharing that, Andrew. What is it like to work at Oracle? Tell me a little bit about the culture?
I was a bit nervous to join Oracle. In the past, I’ve worked for foreign companies. The thought of working for an American company was scary. I’m used to everyone taking long holidays. It’s a different mentality but I love it. There is such good energy at Oracle and I’ve never been around so many smart people. It’s such an incredible drive to get things done. Maybe it’s the difference between going from an incumbent carrier world to being a tech company, but it’s incredibly fast-paced. It’s a huge difference from anywhere that I’ve worked before. Speaking of talent, I love how easy it is to attract talent. When I first came in here, I pulled back from folks in my network, and if you go into Post-It.com to try and hire someone to work for Oracle. I looked around my desk and saw Post-its, that’s how I came up with that. When you say, “I’m doing this interesting and cool thing at Oracle. I’d love you to come and do it with me,” people are quick to say, “That sounds cool. Let’s talk about it.”
I agree and you have something to do with the hiring too. Let’s talk about the careers at Oracle. You are hiring and there’s probably a multitude of different roles. Tell me your careers page? Where would the audience go to learn more about the openings at Oracle?
There are two places and probably the best. Oracle.com/Careers is the first one. That’s every job opening for an Oracle, anywhere in the world. We also post a considerable number of roles on LinkedIn. I have found a considerable number of candidates on LinkedIn. Back to your advice for people, even if you don’t feel that you’re 100% a fit for a role that’s posted, if you feel you’re in the ballpark, don’t underestimate yourself and don’t underestimate the experience that you bring to the table. If you’re not the exact fit, you might not make it past the screening stage, but you never know what the person on the other side is looking for. If you think it’s a job that you can do, that you can be passionate about and be good at it, apply for it. That would probably be the biggest piece of advice I have for people looking for jobs in Oracle or anywhere else for that matter.
You’re spot on because people don’t. It’s different for women and men because women need to check almost every box before they will apply. That’s another key. It’s to go ahead and apply. Take the action and move forward. That’s brilliant advice. I’m so excited. I’ve learned so much in this interview about Oracle and it’s inspired me. We will hear great people your way for sure. Andrew, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it. I would love to have you on again someday and continue this conversation at another time. Thank you so much.
Thank you for having me. I look forward to doing it again.
- Oracle Communications
- LinkedIn – Andrew Morawski
- article – Andrew Morawski article at Oracle Blogs
- Korn Ferry Assessment
- LinkedIn – Oracle Communications
About Andrew Morawski
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the 5G Talent Talk Community today:
The post Oracle Culture Is Driving The Cloud Native Future With Andrew Morawski appeared first on RCR Wireless News.