Before he ever joined Sun, Anthony Robbins worked in the government sector for 20 years “” and learned the importance of delivering on a solution versus just a product. Today, as vice president of federal sales for Sun Microsystems, Robbins continues that focus. “The government is thin in a lot of ranks, and so an important component for companies like ours is to figure out how to package the people, the talent and the expertise that they have … in a way that can be brought to the government market and add value to the mission,” says Robbins. In the following Q&A, Robbins shares some of the challenges and opportunities he’s encountered since assuming his role in July 2006, and lets us in on what’s next for this $14 billion company.
How have recent economic challenges affected your sales strategy?
Anthony Robbins: Obviously, the government will have to wrestle with a recession, the national economy, the US position in the world market, a change of administration, a war going on, etc. At the same time the products and services that Sun offers as a world class computer company are generally set to increase productivity and increase efficiency of people and organizations. So a lot of times people will come to companies such as Sun during times like this to figure out how they can improve efficiencies and improve productivity, which in many cases can be opportunities even during trying times. Our view is that the federal market is an opportunity in the current times.
Any tips for leaders in federal sales on weathering the economic climate?
Anthony Robbins: Sure. Today, in terms of the government's acquisition strategy, they are trying to follow commercial best practices and commercial trends more aggressively than they have in the past. Leasing is being considered more often, solutions versus just products, and services “” desktop as a service, hardware as a service and software as a service is becoming more and more of interest and a part of people's acquisition strategies.
The other thing is that the government IT community is actually stewards of the taxpayer dollars, that's how we look at it. They've got to spend the taxpayer dollar in a manner where they can get the best return on investment. So they are generally always interested in solutions that give them better total cost of ownership, that give them better return on investment and that allow them to better serve citizens, whatever the mission. So if we as leaders in this federal market continue to focus on solutions to problems “” whether it's in challenging times or not “” that's the best method for serving the community.
What are some of your priorities for the coming year?
Anthony Robbins: We're working hard to promote open source and adoption of open source. We think the flexibility, the interoperability, the cost and security benefits of open source offer the federal government a wonderful opportunity. Second, we are working to enhance our partnerships with channel partners and the systems integrators. Today more than 90 percent of Sun's business with the federal government goes indirect to channel partners such as GTSI, Worldwide Technology, Dynamic Systems and CDS “”just to name a few “” as well as major systems integrators such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop, Boeing and CSC. We've been working to become best in class among our partners because they are so important to our sales and marketing strategy. Finally, I'm looking forward to working with the Sun Fed leadership team to provide challenging and compelling work to our employees and then providing an exciting and fast paced work environment for them to work in. The environment that we nurture for our employees really supports us all in our efforts to do a good job for our government customers.
What motivates you as a leader?
Anthony Robbins: I'm not really motivated by the material things in life. I am very motivated by achievement “” by doing the job the best I can, by supporting my employees to the best of my abilities and then packaging that in a way that best serves our government employees. For me it's all about achievement.
What do you love most about your role?
Anthony Robbins: Sun has this unbelievable portfolio of products. In the last five years we have spent over $10 billion on research and development to deliver a set of secure, open products to the marketplace “” from servers to software, services and storage and the combination of all of these products and solutions that we get to offer our customers is literally allowing us to help the government transform itself. Creating challenging and compelling work for our employees and then offering a set of solutions that allow our customer to transform the way that they do their jobs is very exciting.
What is something most people would be surprised to learn about you?
Anthony Robbins: I think the thing that most defines me “” and maybe surprises folks “” is that I was raised by a single mom who worked for the government for 32 years and retired at a GS-12 down at the Missile Command in Huntsville, Alabama. A lot of the lessons that I learned around discipline and setting goals, and actually appreciating what raising kids is like in tough times, comes from my mom. When my mom was raising kids the workforce wasn't a very friendly place to women, that's just the way it was. I've just got an amazing amount of things that I kind of call personal qualities or characteristics that stem from the environment that I was raised in.
Interview with Anthony Robbins was conducted by JD Kathuria
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