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"There’s a great saying, 'if you don't like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.'"

Adrian Johnson
Vice President, Singapore, APAC

Part two of a two-part profile, read part one here.

Applying for a civilian job

After my 5 years in the navy, I was at a point of “do I stay and commit long term” or explore what’s out there. I’d been involved in many roles, including the tech side and this was an area I found interesting. Incidentally, my wife saw a job opening with a tech firm and talked me into applying. I didn’t have the right experience, but a week later after 100 or so other applicants applying, I received a call from the recruiter. I was the only one that didn’t have the requisite experience, but I stood out because of the interesting experience I had gained in the Navy. The organization at the time wanted to see and understand how bringing someone in from the defense forces could impact their culture. I think it addressed a gap between understanding how leadership worked in the defense forces and what people see in the movies.

“If you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.”

Adrian Johnson, Vice President, Singapore, APAC

From Structure to Chaos

After joining Sun Microsystems, it was a real learning experience, and a big change for me. I went from a highly structured organization to one that just felt like complete chaos. That’s not a criticism of the organization — it was just from one extreme to quite the other, but that was my founding in tech, and I have been in the industry ever since. After 18 months of learning about Sun in Australia, I took an opportunity to move to the US. It was early 2001 and a time of great change in the tech industry. I was living in Silicon Valley, learning new skills, meeting different people. It’s been an amazing journey to where I am now, as VP of Asia Pacific for Hitachi Vantara, living in Singapore.

Technology Changes Fast, be Prepared

When you join the tech industry, you join an industry that is exciting, innovative — but always changing. If you’re in a technology company that’s not changing, you will become irrelevant. There’s a great saying that “if you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less”. Change is hard but you must be able to trust the process, be open to change in both the tech landscape and the organization. It’s easy to say but it’s hard to do. But I think when you’ve done it a couple of times and you get through to the other side, you look back and appreciate that while the journey was tough, the result made it worthwhile. Stagnation and complacency can be hugely damaging to any organization.