How I Succeeded: Okta’s Graham Pearson

How I Succeeded is a regular series on Lifehacker where we ask business leaders for the secrets and tactics behind their success. Today: Graham Pearson from Okta.

Current gig: Vice-president of JAPAC for Okta

Location: Sydney, NSW

Current mobile device: iPhone 7

Current computer: Macbook Air

One word that best describes how you work: Flat-out

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Okta mobile, I can log onto all my business applications securely, whether I’m on the road or checking work from home. Box, Concur and Workday also play a huge role in making my job easier, aka saving me from unnecessary headaches.

What social network do you find the most useful?

LinkedIn and Facebook. They allow me to stay connected to both my worlds, whether it’s ex-colleagues, prospects and customers, or my family and friends that are scattered across the world.

What were the most important lessons you learned while growing your business?

3 things:

  1. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. This has been so important while growing a business, as it’s the riskiest time and so crucial to the success.
  2. How hard you work at the beginning of the financial year will determine the success and cadence for the rest of the year. I always keep this in mind when the time rolls around, it keeps me sane.
  3. The more you travel and work in other countries, the more grounded you’ll be when establishing and growing a business. I’ve learnt many different things from my time in companies across the globe, and find myself putting this into what I do locally. These experiences have and continue to help shape how we are building Okta across JAPAC.

What has been the most surprising part of your business journey?

I’m surprised at how quickly Australian businesses are adopting cloud based applications. This is a huge and sometimes scary move for an organisation, but they are embracing the cloud and not looking back.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

Communication and empathy. This has come from years of dealing with people from all walks of life and aspects of business. I also have two young sons at home who have definitely tested my communication skills over the years. But all in all, they have helped me to better myself in terms of how I communicate and empathise with the people in my life, whether they are colleagues or my family.

What’s your sleep routine like?

During the week I’m an early-to-bed and early-to-rise person, although it’s hard to have a routine as I usually fly interstate once a week, and to the US once every quarter.

My son rides motorbikes and competes in state and national level competitions, which means weekend sleep-ins are virtually non-existent. Like most parents, the weekends have me being a taxi driver. Up early to take him to competitions and then back late Sunday nights to start it all over again.

What advice would you offer to other businesses on how to succeed?

Customer service is key. Respecting your customers allows you to build valuable, lasting relationships, at the end of the day these customers are what keeps your business running! Companies that don’t value this or don’t make the effort will suffer in the long run. We have a ‘customer first’ mentality at Okta, and I love being present throughout their entire journey with us.

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