Three Top Technology CEOs Discuss Leadership with Saint Mary’s Students and Alumni

On Wednesday May 2nd, Saint Mary’s College of California School of Economics and Business Administration hosted its Executive Speaker Series to a packed room of students, alumni, and friends in Santa Clara. This event featured a candid discussion with three top technology CEOs on the topic of Tomorrow’s Leadership Roles.

Dr. Shyam Kamath, Associate Dean of Graduate Business and Global Programs for the School of Economic and Business Administration served as moderator and introduced our three panelists: Atul Bhatnagar, President and CEO of Ixia, the leading global provider of converged IP and wireless network test solutions; Moshe Gavrielov, President and Chief Executive Officer, Xilinx, Inc., the world’s leading provider of All Programmable technologies and devices, beyond hardware to software, digital to analog, and single to multiple die in 3D ICs; and Jerry Kennelly, President, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Riverbed Technology which delivers performance for the globally connected enterprise by implementing strategic initiatives such as virtualization, consolidation, cloud computing, and disaster recovery, without fear of compromising performance.

The topic was relevant to every working professional with aspirations to advance their career. The three CEOs each had insightful perspectives on leadership. Bhatnagar emphasized “compassionate understanding of culture is key” and lists the type of characteristics a leader must have:

  • Love for people
  • Learn by observation
  • Develop a  strategic side so that one can craft a vision
  • Understand cultural drivers so you can manage global teams and truly understand customers
  • Surround yourself with (the best) mentors

Moshe Gavrielov added his advice, “Leadership is very personal. There’s no one-size-fits-all. Technology moves so fast so basic skills are important. Breadth of experience is important. Anytime you have an opportunity to advance your skills, grab it. You never know where it may lead you.”

Jerry Kennelly agrees that one size does not fit all. He explained that the old days of revering senior management is over. He states, “New creative innovators don’t like to be managed the old-fashioned, high control, domineering, suppressive way of glorifying management.” There is a difference in culture – instead of coming in from 9am-5pm dressed in business attire, this new generation of innovators may come in with “backwards hats and saggy pants” from 10am-10pm. Simply stated, “It’s a new world.” At the end, those details don’t matter because “all systems equalize” and “talent rules”.

More sage advice was given by the three CEOs:

  • Always look for the fork in the road – for the opportunity – the risk. Even if you fail, it could turn into something. In fact, once every ten years a new opportunity arises in your career. Take it.
  • There are three types of people: rebellious/innovators; executers (those who thrive on checklists and executing the details); and networkers (akin to sales and marketing folks who derive energy from people): You need all three types of these people in your company/on your teams. As a leader you need to derive the right balance.
  • The best work/life balance is to do the work you enjoy, and so then you’re not working.
  • In this day and age, work pace and expectations are much higher. All three CEOs recognize that raising a family while (both parents are) working is very difficult.
  • Leaders need time to think. When changes are happening, you need time for the dust to settle. Intuition comes when you are calm. Innovation suffers if you work 24/7. Humans are not machines and aren’t built that way. Take time to think.

For photos of the event, click here. If you would like to see the video from the event, please email us and we will contact you when it is available on the Saint Mary’s School of Economics and Business Administration’s YouTube Channel.


About Saint Mary's College Graduate Business Alumni
Founded in 1863, Saint Mary's College of California is a cornerstone institution of the San Francisco bay area. After nearly 150 years, with a network of more than 40,000 alumni worldwide, Saint Mary's tradition of educational excellence is stronger than ever. Saint Mary's College of California Graduate Business Alumni Chapter's mission is three-fold: network, learn and serve. Our goal is to connect graduates with new people and opportunities, provide continued professional development, and use our knowledge, experience, and skills to help those in our community. For information about how to get involved visit,

About the Executive Speaker Series:
Hosted by the School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA), the Executive Speaker Series brings CEOs, presidents and other top corporate leaders from the nation’s C-suites, leading academics of national prominence and government, non-profit and non-governmental organizational leaders to present their views on topics of current importance and intellectual, business and academic topics to the Saint Mary’s and Bay Area communities. Past prominent speakers include Dr. Geoffrey Moore, best selling business author (e.g., Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado) and Dr. Pehong Chen, President and CEO of Broadvision. These high level executives speak about cutting-edge issues that challenge conventional wisdom and ways of doing things, elaborate on trends in various industries and economic sectors, and provide important career inspiration and advice for our students, faculty, alumni and broader community. These events are an excellent opportunity to learn from experienced executives and to network with influential leaders.  For more information, contact us.