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HPE-Editor

Human Element: Delvon Jones on becoming an HPE Distinguished Technologist

Delvon Jones is a Distinguished Technologist and Account Chief Technologist responsible for exceeding customer objectives using a long-term strategy, vision, and technology solutions. He brings over 26 years of experience in technical strategy and insight into customer business values. Delvon has worked at several global financial services firms, including Goldman Sachs, Alliance Bernstein, Commerzbank, and Prudential. Delvon has supported numerous business units nationally and internationally, demonstrating an ability to deliver a wide range of solutions while cultivating partners' ecosystem. He mentors at-risk youth in Florida and is the technology chairman on the board of directors for Be A Mentor, Inc. In his spare time, he enjoys flying drones and hiking.

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Can you share a bit about your journey at HPE?
I joined HP in 2010 as part of the acquisition of 3PAR, which was a storage startup company located in Fremont, California. Prior to this, I worked on Wall Street, holding various jobs—infrastructure, engineering, storage, etc. I then had an opportunity in 2010 to join either NetApp or 3PAR on the vendor side. A friend of mine who was a recruiter highly recommended 3PAR. I interviewed with both. However, when I went to 3PAR’s office in New York, it became one of the best decisions I ever made. Shifting to the vendor side, I just loved it.

3PAR was a small startup. I had access to the CEO directly. I learned that if faced with a challenge, you had the creative freedom and support of the company to solve it. Your ideas were heard and shared. It was just a great experience.

When we came aboard HPE, there was a need for 3PAR specialists country-wide, as well as in Latin America. Our job was to travel within North America and the Latin American region to support 3PAR inside this massive engine that is HPE. What I loved was seeing problems from different perspectives across different companies, verticals, and, in short order, helping many people solve problems. I developed a somewhat unfair advantage, because although the questions were new to the customers, I had heard the questions repeatedly. I really enjoyed it.

 

Would you tell us about your career growth learning path?
When I worked in a storage startup environment, we had one product to focus on and were not as concerned with servers or networking technology. However, thanks to the training material within the HPE software and hardware environment, I was able to easily exceed the expectations of my “job description”. Never follow a job description, is my suggestion, by the way. I think you should always try to exceed the expectations set in a job description. That's exactly what I did. I participated in Technical Marketing teams and Product Marketing teams and in everything that had to do with storage. From there, my close rate was about 90%. Helping around the country, I quickly learned and shared in the team success organically, which helped me to grow as an individual.

Right now, my position is as a Distinguished Technologist, which is a director level within HPE. The chief technologist’s role always appealed to me. I made several attempts at obtaining this position. Even though I was unsuccessful, I kept pushing as opportunities arose and stayed focused on exploring my potential. You are expected to possess a broad scope of knowledge when you undergo the first interview process. Although I started down the path of knowledge, I had more work to do. The folks that I “lost” to were smart people, so I really had no qualms about that.

My fourth time around, I was ready. It was a culmination of years of hard work, preparation, and opportunity that finally presented itself. The position and funding were there, and I knew a lot of people.

You needed to put an entire nomination package together, as well as undergo a board review by Distinguished Technologists. My manager helped me build the package and it helped that he was an author of several published books. No one makes it in the business alone. If your package is accepted, and you pass the board review, then you would be offered a position as a Distinguished Technologist. I think there's probably 4 positions that come up per year, so it's not easy to achieve. Anyway, that's kind of a snapshot of how I got to where I am today.

 

After the first several times that you were unable to achieve Distinguished Technologist, what finally made the difference?
There's really no preparation since experiences can differ. The role requires strong soft skills, as well as technical and industry knowledge. I simply followed my normal mantra. The questions I had received from customers years prior propelled me via an organic path. I think part of it is that a person’s network builds their success. Others become familiar with you and your work, creating a feedback loop where you are invited to participate in more projects, which leads to more learning opportunities.

There was a presentation portion of the Distinguished Technologist review. After the background review, I was asked to present an HPE solution to the VP in the role of a chief technologist. I told a story of how the technology fit into overarching trends. I put financials around it and described business impacts, so it was more of a holistic approach that showed my breadth.

You could be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t articulate your thoughts, intelligence has no impact. I've seen a lot of smart people struggle with simplifying concepts. That's what I've done for the past 20 plus years.

Learning constantly is what helped me. Since you wouldn't be in front of the board if you didn't have the knowledge or intelligence, I think the packaging and delivery was most important.

 

We understand that you mentor youth to ‘give back’ to the community. Can you share why you chose to become a mentor?
A lot of times kids come from multi-generational poverty and are unsure of their life options.

You seek to be a voice of positive influence and let them know they can go to college, it can be done, and that you support and will listen to them.

You're not even aware of how much you impact their lives.

Mentees come back years later and say, ‘You said this to me, and it changed my life’ and you might not remember. You're just trying to be present and a positive influence for them.

I felt like I couldn't reach enough kids. You can only effectively reach one or two. When mentoring, you can't engage and then disengage. That's very disruptive and is what a lot of the adults do in these kids’ lives. So, it's a long-term engagement.

What I've learned from mentoring is sometimes I begin working with kids too late. They may already be traveling a path, decisions were made, and they must deal with that. In this case, I stand with them through that and explain that life is not over.

However, there are a lot of positive stories where I work with a child at the right time and great outcomes result.

 

Is there any advice that you would like to leave us with?
I can't express how important it is to carve out time to think freely. Take time to think every day.

It’s also very important that you read broadly outside of your industry. Dedicate that time. Just like meditation is so important to health, stress levels, and productivity, I think it's very important to focus on reading.

Also, for me, it's more about energy than time. What I mean is, I am more productive in the first half of the day and the midafternoon. I'm always productive, just not as productive as I am in the morning. My energy wanes and then around 7 or 8 at night, I'm productive again. I work a lot, but I just work according to my energy levels, because a lot of what I do is creative work. Pay attention to your energy cycles, when you're most productive, and get the bulk of your work done within your most productive cycles.


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Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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