I’m very excited about today’s announcement of our new CEO, Patrick Dennis. He is a fantastic leader and a great addition to our executive team. We are energized by his passion and his commitment to building on the company’s mission of partnering with world-class customers to keep their businesses safe and successful while future-proofing their machine identity management strategies.
Why is Patrick prepared to take Venafi customers to the next level? Patrick is a highly experienced, successful, and well-regarded business leader with a strong background in cybersecurity. He has led a number of high-growth public and private companies in the security and information technology markets including his CEO gigs at ExtraHop, Guidance Software and Alvaria and leadership positions at EMC and Oracle. His vision and leadership have helped companies like ExtraHop achieve multi-year growth through strategic product investments, company acquisitions, and a customer-centric approach.
Venafi CEO Patrick Dennis with CMO Sandeep Singh Kohli and CRO Kris Luhrson
As you can see, we are very lucky to have Patrick as our new fearless leader. The choice of Patrick was not based solely on his resume and accolades, although those strong testaments speak for themselves. It was his vision and his commitment to customers, culture and team that really made Patrick a great fit for Venafi as the company transitions to the next phase of growth. To uncover more about what motivates him and where he sees the market going for machine identity management, Patrick answered a series of more personal questions that I would like to share with you here:
Sandeep: We're excited to have you on board at Venafi! What was it about Venafi that made you want to join our team?
Patrick: There is a lot to like about Venafi! I will give you a few specific examples of what got me excited about the opportunity. I have spent much of my career in security and all of my career in technology. I believe that we are quickly approaching another technological inflection point. Artificial intelligence will have a profound impact on society. It is hard to predict all the consequences (good and bad), but one thing is certain – there will be an explosive growth in machines. I also believe that growth will come in part because machines will be able to instantiate other machines. That won’t be able to be managed by human beings alone; this will quickly become a problem solved by software. This is a wonderful place to be if you believe that. In addition, the team that recruited me is top shelf. I have stayed in touch with the Thoma Bravo team since my time at Guidance Software. I was excited about working with them. Finally, I was able to speak with some customers that are in my network. They confirmed how important our technology is to their operations. I got positive feedback from everyone I spoke with, and it was most impressive to hear that from some of the world's biggest brands. I knew that this company is as customer centric as I am. That sealed the deal.
Sandeep: What are you looking forward to most as a Venafi Warrior?
Patrick: I love the core values. I am looking forward to working with a team that is invested in those. I really care about the sense of mission in this industry. I looked back at many of my company notes from the last several years. One thing I noticed is how often I referenced “uncertainty” over the last few years. The world has been a challenging place lately. And I think our industry is full of people that are making a positive impact on the world. The idea that each person at the company is a warrior really resonates with me. Each of us plays a vital role in making the world more secure. With the impact technology is having on all our lives, there isn’t a more important thing to be doing.
Sandeep: You've had a successful career that spans across Sales, Engineering, Services and Executive Leadership. What has been your biggest achievement? What are you most proud of?
Patrick: Over my career, this answer has evolved. The thing I am the proudest of today is the number of people that I have worked with that have gone into big jobs. I have several people that worked for me over the years that are now CEOs. They are doing amazing things with their companies. I know how many people invested in me over the years. I could offer hundreds of examples of things I learned from others. I am trying to pay that forward with the people that I get to work with today. I am proud to watch other people’s success and growth.
Sandeep: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your career?
Patrick: It would be unfair to pick one person. I was fortunate enough to work with some exceptional leaders during formative parts of my career. When I worked at EMC, Joe Tucci was the CEO. Joe is an exceptional leader in so many ways. He had an incredible ability to attract talent. The EMC leadership team included: Pat Gelsinger, Dave Dewalt, Art Coviello, and David Goulden to name a few. Many of those executives went on to do amazing things. It wasn’t just his direct reports, however. I worked for BJ Jenkins when he was a divisional sales leader. He went on to run Barracuda and now has a significant role with Palo Alto Networks. I was surrounded by talent at EMC. My time at Oracle was interesting because Mark Hurd became a mentor. He was one of the best operators I have ever seen. I like to think I picked up something from every one of them. Discussing this with you now really makes me realize how lucky I have been.
Sandeep: If you weren't in the technology space, what would you be doing today?
Patrick: Many people have ebbs and flows in their careers. I was certainly one of them. I went to college in the traditional engineering discipline. Specifically, I wanted to be in aerospace engineering. During that time in my life, I worked at Eastman Kodak (yes, the film company) because they had a tuition assistance program. I was a desktop support specialist for the R&D division, which was a ton of fun. I was around real engineers all day while I was going to school at night. One day, my boss approached me and said that Kodak was changing the tuition assistance plan. He said they were no longer paying for engineering degrees, but he suggested I major in something related to computers. I made the change primarily because I wanted to stay in the program. I am certain if that conversation didn’t take place, I would have been an engineer.
Sandeep: What's your one must-read, must-watch or must-listen that you recommend to everyone?
Patrick: If I am limited to one suggestion, I would choose The Art of Doing Science and Engineering – Learning to Learn. It is a book that I gift to people that send me books. The author, Richard Hamming, has an incredible career in science and technology. The book distills down lessons he learned over his career with the ambitious goal of teaching the reader how to learn. The book came as a result of a course Hamming taught at one point. Students often say it was the most important course they took.
Sandeep: What is the one item or technology you can't live without? And why?
Patrick: My wired headset. I know it's super old school, but it does not have batteries and the quality is always the same. For some reason, as much as I embrace technology, I really do not care for Bluetooth microphones. When I leave the house, I always check for my phone, keys, and headset... It is that much a part of my routine. I am in fact so dependent on them I keep an unboxed spare in my bag when I travel.