Jason Langley, Ingram Micro general manager, value infrastructure, nearly didn’t make it to the tech sector.
He talks to Heather Wright about leadership and making your own opportunities.
When he left HP after a year in 2013, Langely says he had 'the best summer off', taking four-and-ahalf months 'just naval gazing and deciding what my next move was'.
“I tend to do that every few years. I'm fairly coin operated. At the time I looked at it and thought what do I want to be successful? What does success look like for Jason? And for me success was a happy, healthy, loving family life.
“I don't want to be on the bones of my arse, but I don't necessarily have to be stinking rich. If that comes as the result of everything else, that would be fantastic. But to me it was about family life, so striking that balance is really important.
“I spend as much time with my kids [aged five and eight] as I can. I'll always make time for their school events, particularly if it's a first.”
He's looking forward to getting back into snowboarding and mountain biking, with the kids now reaching an age where they can go along for the ride too.
He doesn't subscribe to the 80 hour work week, noting 'kids are young for a very short period of time', and works around 50 hours a week, not all of it at the office.
“I work when it's required. I'll be up at 4am some mornings and working until 11pm some nights, but not on a regular basis. It just depends on what's going on at the time.”
With a team of 20 direct reports, he recently put in team leads to ensure less need for direct input from him day to day, and says his management style is 'fairly open, collaborative and inclusive'.
“I don't like being micromanaged personally and I don't like micromanaging people. But I will when I need to.”
He subscribes to the idea of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, and taking input from them to come up with final decisions.
Ask Langely what his key management advice to others would be and it's people all the way. “Without sounding cliché about it, your people are your biggest asset and you've got to look after them.
It's not always easy when you're balancing the complexities of business and margins and making revenue, but it's important to try and balance the business drivers with the emotional and human aspects of what's going on.
“Without a well functioning team, you're dead in the water.”
Key to that, he says, is listening and trying to find outcomes that work for both the company and the individual.
“You can't please all the people all the time, but if there's an opportunity to change something within a business to accommodate a requirement for a team member, or an idea from them, look at it.
“It sounds a bit socialist really, but there's a balance you've got to strike between being the boss who is leading the team and being manager, but you've also got to have your team on side, not necessarily as buddy buddy friends that you have over for dinner every night, but you've got to strike an equilibrium where you all get along and there is that degree of camaraderie, and that's where I think listening and empathy come in.”
He's also a believer in marking your own opportunities citing a saying he once heard: Whatever the outcome, positive or negative, it's your fault.
“I think that's a good view on life, because you make your own choices, you make your own opportunities. If you don't like your situation, go and change it. Don't wait for someone else to change it for you.”
To read Part 1 of The Channel’s exclusive interview with Jason Langley of Ingram Micro, click here
This story was originally published in the May issue of The Channel magazine – click here to subscribe