“It goes without saying that David has all of the expertise one would normally find in someone at the top of the technical job family – applications, infrastructure, methodologies and so on. However, David’s value to his engagements goes far beyond this. David has the rare but vital skill of bringing simplicity where there was complexity and confusion. David brings rapid focus to complex deal situations by very quickly getting to the heart of the client’s requirement and then getting the team behind the key aspects of our solution to address the requirements as well as the competitive picture. David is also a master at synthesizing the output of discussion into actions and tangible output. These skills brings immediate clarity and productivity gains to the teams he works with and are equally effective in enabling clients to grasp the value that HP can bring because solutions are founded on and articulated in terms of the business value they deliver for the clients. My own view is reinforced by frequent feedback from team and regional leadership on the deals David has worked on. Time and time again I’ve seen or heard about how David has accelerated and simplified solution building or brought focus back to a team. He doesn’t just give the answer; his ability to facilitate and contribute simultaneously allows him to bring stakeholders HP and client) along the analysis and decision making journey to ensure buy-in. Quite simply, David is one of the best solution leaders I have ever worked with. I frequently send David into the most complex and challenging situations, confident that he will make an immediate positive impact in a short period of time. David is not a “bystander guru” simply providing advice. He rolls up his sleeves and pitches in, providing sample materials and supporting collateral, coaching on best practices and emerging trends, meeting with and influencing clients, and creating proposal and presentation materials.”
Peter B., Manager Preliminary Design Team, HP Enterprise Services
I worked with David Walton in Hong Kong, Australia and India. During that time I came to know David as a multi-talented and capable individual who can handle complex business and technical problem spaces and make the seemingly impossible happen. The most interesting and important project on which we collaborated was the development of an online trading system and web portal for ICICI Securities in Mumbai, India. David helped write the business proposal and then, when we won the contract, David was instrumental in getting the site live. David’s contribution was immense:
- advised the business on several business processes such as account opening and commission structures
- architected the solution, including the applications architecture, interface designs and security model
- chose the hardware, middleware, applications development and runtime environment, web server and database software
- negotiated with and chose suppliers for the back office system, news feeds, charting and market data
- mentored the project leader
As a testament to just how good the solution was, within 18 months of launch the service had captured over 90% of the Indian market for online share trading, and ranked 7th in the world in terms of daily trading volumes. The service has continued to grow and remains the top online investment site in India (www.icicidirect.com).
I also recall David helping us while I was doing a project for Societe Generale at Hong Kong to do solutioning for applications to be put in place for Corporate Finance & Commercial Lending and Financial Markets across Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney. We brought him in for a short stint and on Day One, within 8 hours, based just on the documentation received from various vendors, David was able to form an opinion on which systems will be the best fit from a technology perspective and fit into the SocGen architecture and IT environment. He was able to hold penetrating conversations with the vendor representatives and complete the picture. The CIO and business sponsor of SocGen were literally floored when he presented his findings and recommendations to them. And personally speaking, even I have not seen this level of competence, anywhere else, in any other person, before and after this contact with David.”
Pramod S., CEO NIIT Technologies AG, Germany
“I worked with David at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Toronto, Canada, where he was responsible for architecting and developing one of the first websites in the Canadian Brokerage market. The project was ground breaking at that time, and required David to understand completely the entire brokerage infrastructure as well as emerging technologies, From this knowledge base, he architected a solution which was still used five years later. Having developed the architecture, he managed the implementation. This involved supervising technology staff, and coordinating the activities of operations, accounting, and marketing people. He had to use considerable diplomacy to move bank employees from entrenched opinions to an acceptance of a new way of interacting with customers and of processing transactions, while at the same time managing dedicated programming and operations staff.
As this was new technology to the bank as a whole, David also used influencing skills to obtain approval from senior bank staff for each step of the project. He created a sense of purpose and excitement through regular review meetings with the executive and line staff.
In summary, David demonstrated vision and strategic thinking, as well as an ability to deliver new technology in a bureaucratic and static environment.”
Jack V., President, CIBC Investor Services
Winner of HP Sales ‘Top Gear’ Award, June 2010
David demonstrated outstanding performance in his contribution to winning a substantial, long term Apps, ITO and BPO service with RTC/BEKB in Switzerland against IBM. For outstanding performance in winning a substantial, long term contract with RTC/BEKB in Switzerland against IBM.
Can you give a brief overview of your role and responsibilities?
“First off, I would like to emphasize that I was a member of a team that won the BEKB business, not the only guy. I just happen to be the lucky one who got nominated for the Top Gear recognition. My responsibility covers solution strategy and leadership. As Stephen Covey wrote, “A good manager may be effective at building a road through a jungle, but a leader will climb a tree to survey the jungle and isn’t afraid to say ‘Wrong jungle!’” I’m a big picture, end-in-mind kind of guy. Although I can do process management, it’s not my forte or passion. I prefer to focus on joint development of the vision and mapping out a plan to achieve it. Along the way, i.e. throughout the process, I revisit progress towards the main objectives, and then nudge, influence, adapt, pitch in, translate between business and technical objectives. I jump in whenever I see that the job needs doing or isn’t getting done.”
What would you say are your main work principles and ethics?
“I would put fairness, honesty, openness and an ability to listen at the top of the list. As a leader, I value taking people through a process of discovery, discussion, analysis and decision making. You cannot just give people the answer because they won’t feel any ownership towards it and ultimately may reject it.
It is essential to be able to distinguish between ability, knowledge and motivation and adjust one’s communication and delegation styles accordingly.
Context, context, context!
If you aren’t measuring it, you can’t fix it. Or put another way, you need to envision what success looks like so you can measure progress towards it.
If you don’t feel like you’re a part of a highly functioning team, then do something about it.”
What key skills are needed to succeed in your profession?
“Listening skills are paramount – the ability to hear what is actually being communicated, and why, from the context, tone, style and words. Then we have being able to simplify things – the ability to distill complexity into relevant inputs to the decision making process. Speaking and presentation skills are quite fundamental as well. You don’t have to be the slickest of speakers, you just have to be clear, passionate, honest and relevant. And then we have the written word. The ability to write clear, concise proposals and executive summaries that convey what we propose to do, how we propose to do it, why it’s beneficial, and why the client should believe us is very important. This requires knowing how to cut out the flowery ‘best-in-class’, ‘world leading’, ‘value-adding’ junk that pads out and diminishes too much of our proposal writing. Possessing general business knowledge goes without saying. You have to be able to read an annual report; have knowledge of your client’s industry and business model; know the competitive, regulatory and other landscapes as well as cost drivers. It is imperative to be very clear on how the client uses technology, how well they use technology relative to peers, and how we can help them improve their use of technology to be more successful in their business.
Having a broad technical knowledge is very helpful. A focus on how technology is used, procured and managed, and keeping current with the pro’s and con’s of emerging technologies, as opposed to the nuts and bolts workings of technology (although this is also useful and fun too) is beneficial.
Facilitation always comes in handy. Having the ability to move a group of people towards a common understanding and way forward, sometimes from the front of the room but also sometimes from within the group has its advantages. And lastly – planning. It is crucial to be able to visualize the main steps or initiatives needed to achieve a goal, whether it’s an outsourcing contract or a transformation programme. You then need insight to group these into manageable, achievable, understandable and scalable work streams and projects, and to then lay these out over a timescale on a single sheet of paper that is at once comprehensive and yet easy to follow.”
What training or development activities would you recommend for someone to develop these key skills?
“I would recommend training that develops listening, writing and presentation skills.”
What best practices or important takeaways from your performance would you like to share with the broad sales/sales support community?
“This is a difficult one for many but especially, it seems, for technologists. Yes, we need a good solution and a good price, but what really matters is what the client believes about us as a company – their thinking about the people he or she will be working with, our commitment, drive, passion and integrity, and whether or not we are easy to do business with. Of course the best way to get the client to believe in us is to demonstrate these traits. But the one thing a lot of us in the technology job family need to get over is that the client’s beliefs are what is important. You have to know more than just your costs and price. You must know the client’s business case. Ideally, work with the client on this so they feel ownership of it.
Understand that people are people and not resources. Understand clearly what the main constituents, as well as the client as a whole, need for themselves and for their organisation. Visualise what information the client needs in order to say yes. This is usually a business case, an understanding of the commercial model, the pricing, the plan, what happens to the people, who they are going to be working with, and what’s required from them. Too often we don’t give the client what they need in order to make a decision. Especially in sole-source opportunities. So we often end up in these endless chicken and egg solutioning loops.
And quite importantly have fun on the job. All the successful deals I’ve worked on have been fun. If it isn’t fun then there’s likely a good reason why.”