10 Best CEOs to Watch 2020
The Canadian software giant OpenText is the name to look out for in Information Management (IM). The company caters to the IM requirements of 90% of the Fortune 500 companies. Founded in 1991, the company has seen remarkable growth in recent times.
Mark J. Barrenechea, CEO and CTO of OpenText, has had a massive impact on OpenText since he joined the company in 2012. His leadership has been pivotal in the company’s growth into becoming a leading company in the IM software space.
In conversation with Mark J. Barrenechea
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I was fortunate to grow up in a family of six with parents who sacrificed everything they had for their children. My grandfather was a farmer and my family’s passion for education, the outdoors, and sports were very formative for me.
I have spent 30 years in the technology industry, starting as a programmer and developing my way through engineering and executive roles at Oracle, CA, and Silicon Graphics International Corporation (SGI), before joining OpenText as CEO & CTO in 2012.
The company will celebrate 30 years in business next year. How has OpenText changed over the years and since you joined?
OpenText started out as a search company in the 90s, became a content management company in the 2000s, and then evolved into the global leader in Information Management – helping businesses transform and compete by using their information to gain an advantage.
In the modern economy, success is derived from using information to its full potential – what we call the Information Advantage, and we are building the platform to drive business.
What are the key moments that shaped you are and your leadership style?
Working my way through college reinforced an early belief that the pursuit of value is a worthy endeavor. The path to meaning is through work that has meaning. You create clarity for others, the energy and environment to realize the mission, and you drive towards success regardless of the challenges.
Being a cancer survivor is influential. My journey and recovery gives me a sense of focus and priority, as well as a perspective to lead from the heart, not just the head.
Have there been any mentors or peers that have been particularly influential to you?
I feel very fortunate to have worked with great leaders like Larry Ellison and Ed Stack. At OpenText, I’m surrounded by a great board and leadership team that help keep me energized, focused, and moving forward. Software is a team sport.
What do you hope to accomplish at OpenText over the next several years?
With the recent acquisition of Carbonite and Webroot, we have three important opportunities.
The first is to bring Information Management to customers of all sizes, and I’m looking forward to developing out the new channels we have to the SMB and consumer markets.
The second is to help our customers strengthen their cyber-resilience. We now have a suite of solutions that provides total endpoint protection for our customers. We can now provide data protection & backup, endpoint protection, threat intelligence, endpoint detection, response and forensic investigations. This means that we can both reduce the risk of a cyber-attack, and manage incidents that do occur, while ensuring our customers can continue to operate their businesses effectively.
The third big opportunity for OpenText is cloud. We are delivering truly flexible options to help some of the world’s most complex and sophisticated companies seize the opportunity of cloud and we see this strategy of ultimate customer choice as a huge advantage. We will be launching our release CE (Cloud Edition) this April, which will mark a major milestone in our cloud strategy.
How do today’s largest enterprises keep pace with changing technology?
If I were to sum up my approach towards leadership, success and business in a word, it would be durability. The Fortune 500 today looks very different than it did 10, or 20 years ago. But the companies that endure are those that manage change points extremely well, such as technology, demographics, buying patterns, etc.
My focus as the CEO and CTO of OpenText is on helping our customers manage the pace of change and harness information for competitive advantage. To do this, organizations must commit to – and invest in – technology and innovation to support growth and resilience. Over 100,000 customers trust OpenText every day with their most vital company information, and we have proven to be a durable, innovative company that delivers results for both our customers and investors.
Organizations with the will to make that commitment and endure through challenges can not only keep pace but continue to thrive by taking advantage of today’s technology.
Is there anything that you’re worried about, and that keeps you up at night?
I am greatly worried by the climate crisis. I see this as the existential threat of our time and business, political and social leaders need to come together to find a way forward for the planet.
The issue is CO2, and the analysis and proclamations have not changed for 40 years, only our complacency. If we do not act, there will be 100 Million climate refugees over the next 25 years.
I’ve been calling on my own team to think through how we as a company can do more, and we’re looking forward to making some commitments this summer.
We also want to use our technology to help in this fight. One example is around sustainable supply chains, where we are developing technology to help companies make more ethical and environmental choices in their supply chain. These efforts can enable the circular economy by scoring suppliers on a range of criteria, thereby allowing companies to easily connect to the most environmentally conscious suppliers possible.
An Extraordinary Leader
Mark J. Barrenechea is the recipient of many accolades including the 2011 Best Large Company CEO, 2015 Results Oriented CEO of the Year by the CEO World Awards, and the 2020 BIG Innovation Award from the Business Intelligence Group. He has also authored a number of books.
Before OpenText, he was the President and CEO of Silicon Graphics International Corporation (SGI). He has also served CA as its Executive Vice President and CTO. At Oracle, he worked as the Senior Vice President of Applications Development.
"I am greatly worriedby the climate crisis. I see this as the existential threat of our time and business, political and social leaders need to come together to find a way forwardfor the planet."
“Being a cancer survivor is influential. My journey andrecovery gives me a sense of focus and priority, as well as a perspective to lead from the heart, not just the head.”