Building a Next Gen Network With Aryaka’s Renuka Nadkarni

Author: Scott Kinka

The Bridge Podcast with Scott Kinka - Renuka Nadkarni AryakaOn this episode of The Bridge, I’m joined by Renuka Nadkarni, Chief Product Officer at Aryaka. We’re talking about building a next gen network and so much more.

Aryaka pioneered the concept of a cloud-first architecture for delivering SD-WAN, and also now SASE, as-a-service. They provide secure connectivity, enabling organizations to work from anywhere in the world without compromising application performance through their patented, integrated technology and services.

During our conversation, we discussed convergence in the era when network and security edge are one and the same, the simplification and cost-saving potential through convergence and SASE, how we connect securely in the future, and so much more.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Renuka’s career move to Aryaka and the timing post-pandemic.
  • The evolution of technology eras: Infrastructure era, Applications era, Conversions era.
  • Why we need to focus on solving networking and security problems in the Conversions era.
  • What building a next gen network looks like.
  • Why Aryaka is shifting focus from infrastructure to applications to users and applications in the cloud.
  • The importance of addressing the challenges of both remote users and distributed applications.
  • The impact of remote work and distributed applications on productivity and experience.
  • The importance of applying security consistently across the entire network and avoiding weak links.
  • The differentiating security aspects within SASE.
  • The challenges of point solutions for specific security problems that lead to complexity and inefficiency.
  • The importance of managing existing security infrastructure and migrating gradually to SASE.
  • Why Gen Z is a disruptive force in the workforce, bringing their unique technological and social strengths.
  • The impact of the pandemic on changing work styles and acceptance of alternative work arrangements.
  • The importance of messaging apps for connectivity and communication in the event of technological degradation.

The Bridge Podcast - Renuka Nadkarni AryakaABOUT RENUKA NADKARNI

Ever-evolving cybersecurity threats fuel my drive to innovate. Using a data-driven analytical approach, I specialize in solving complex business problems.

My name is Renuka Nadkarni and I am the Chief Product Officer at Aryaka responsible for our vision and execution. With over two decades of progressive business leadership experience in strategy, business operations and product management, I bring a unique combination of technical and business experience to this role. Drawing on expertise in cybersecurity and in depth understanding of the business needs, I championed security as a strategic area of growth that led to our SASE transformation.

Backed by experience in start-ups and large, publicly traded companies, combined with specialist knowledge in Cloud/IAAS technologies, Cybersecurity and Network and Cloud Security, I have been instrumental in the launch of new businesses at VMware, Infoblox, NetCitadel and Nevis Networks.

An advocate for women, diversity and inclusion in the cybersecurity space, I work hard to actively support a culture where every person in the workplace has the opportunity to reach their full potential. I also mentor student groups via Capstone mentorship and currently work with two groups in Washington State University to develop open source ‘Capture the Flag’ software to encourage girls in high school to pursue Cybersecurity. I also volunteer at Techbridge girls to inspire and support underprivileged girls.

I am on LinkedIn to strengthen business relationships and develop my professional network. To get in touch, connect with me here or via LinkedIn message.CONTACT RENUKA

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Scott Kinka:

Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Bridge. I’m really excited about this particular episode. My guest is Renuka Nadkarni. She’s the Chief Product Officer at Aryaka, who, if you’ve been a listener for some time, you know, we’ve had on the show before really interested in hearing about Renuka story because she’s, I don’t wanna say super recent, but she’s a more recent, or at least pandemic recent addition addition to the to the crew over at Aryaka. So, really interested in exploring that story. Renuka really happy to have you on the episode today.

Renuka Nadkarni:

Thank you, Scott, and super excited to be here.

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. You’re in San Mateo at headquarters for Aryaka now.

Renuka Nadkarni:

That’s right. I’m actually in the office in San Mateo.

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. And what we didn’t realize coming in here is that we’re neighbors. Bridgepoint at least has had, we are not, I’m in Philadelphia, but our headquarters is also in San Mateo, right around the corner from where you are, which is super interesting. But let’s just jump right into it. Let’s start with you. You’ve got an interesting career history in some really cool roles, but before we get to your career history, how about you just tell us about you personally?

Renuka Nadkarni:

So, I like to describe myself as a very passionate problem solver, and one of the things that when I started my career, I started in the security space. I happened to be in network security back in the day when Cisco was trying to explore security. This was before they had any offerings in that space. And I worked in the office of CTO trying to figure out what are the latest and greatest security problems. And that basically got me really hooked. And ever since I have spent my, you know, 20 plus years in the security industry, solving all kinds of cybersecurity problems. And what gets me going is identifying where the industry is going, where customers are going, what problems they’re trying to solve for. And my loyalty has always been to solving these cybersecurity problems. And I was fortunate enough being in the Bay Area that I was able to, you know, work on, like rurally cutting edge 1.0 security, you know, startups. My company got acquired. I went through a variety of outcomes from getting acquired to filing for bankruptcy, being the first employee of a startup. And it has definitely been an exciting journey. And the thing that wakes me up in the morning and, you know, gets me to work is this opportunity to transform. And I’ve done this when I was at VMware. I was the first security hire at VMware back in the day more than a decade ago. I did the same thing at Infoblox where I transformed the organization from networking to security. I had the same opportunity at Five, where if I was not recognized as a security company, I was, you know, one of the early people. And by the time I left, they had upwards of a billion dollars of business in security. So, that’s what is my you know, from a personal side of, I have two daughters who are teenagers, and I’m really, you know, as a mother trying to get my daughters in, getting them interested. But I just like to think of myself as a passionate problem solver. And cybersecurity is an area which I’m addicted to and hooked onto.

Scott Kinka:

I love that. And listen, I wanna read some of that back so that you’re not selling yourself short, particularly with our listeners. We’re talking Cisco, VMware, Infoblox, F five, and now Aryaka. I mean, you’ve hit it and then, you know, not only from the big lists of names, right? But also through some really interesting times in the industry, right? 2000, 2008. So like, we’ve been through a couple of those and you’ve seen it all, which makes arriving at Aryaka  super interesting to me. So powerful lady we have on the pod today. And I’m really interested in hearing a little bit more about what you got going on here. I love Passionate Problem Solvers. We’ll explore that a little bit as we go. I’m gonna ask you one more sort of Personalist question, and then we’ll sort of use that as a jumping off point sort of into the career and, and talk a little bit more about Aryaka. Just talk about what you’re reading right now. You know, is there a book on your end table? I always like to kind of poke and prod and see what people are into.

Renuka Nadkarni:

You know honestly, I’m really not a book person. I do a lot of podcasts, v-blogs. I used to have an app on my phone, which would give me a gist of the book, because for me, sitting down and reading a book is a little bit boring. It kind of puts me to sleep, to be honest. But having said that, there are a few books that I’m a big fan of. So, you know Good to Great. That’s one book where it talks about how companies have evolved from a business side. One book, which I use as a Bible in my day-to-day operations is called Zone to Win. This is Jeffrey Moore’s book, I work very closely with him at F five. He was a consultant to us. And the thing I absolutely loved about that is it’s like an operating playbook. Like how to run the business, how to make decisions mm-hmm. And that’s something which all of us deal with on a daily basis. And, you know, when you have to make some very tough calls, it’s all about what is the decision criteria, how do you put things in context, how do you structure the thinking? And that’s why I love that book, Zone to Win. And I’ve read it multiple times. I consulted with him. I actually pointed out some areas which were like, not really optimal suggestions. And in fact, Jeff was really kind and he said, Hey, this is great feedback. So I like the practicality of implementing certain playbooks that help leaders make tough decisions and put, you know, a framework around it, which allows us to have very robust decision making. So that’s my favorite book by far.

Scott Kinka:

That’s amazing. And I know not many people can say that they’ve had the opportunity to be personally mentored by Jeffrey Moore, either.

Renuka Nadkarni:

That’s my career highlight, so to speak.

 

A Shift to Convergence in the Post-Pandemic Era

Scott Kinka:

That’s incredible. We could probably spend the rest of the episode on that, but we won’t. I’ll call you and we’ll have a personal conversation about that. That sounds completely amazing. So when I was digging back through your career highlights and sort of in pre-prep, and then obviously we chatted about it just before we began the recording, I was kind of reading the tea leaves a little bit, you know, I always find it interesting when people have made career moves in particular between 2021 and, kind of the end of 22, because in a lot of ways, particularly as technology leaders, it was probably to accomplish something for a company post pandemic, you know, or given the change in the way that we work and how we work and things of that nature. I made that statement on the pre-call and you nodded. So let’s spend some time unpacking that. You came in to be the Chief Product Officer at Aryaka really at the tail end of the pandemic, and I imagine it was to accomplish something. So tell me why Aryaka, why the move and sort of, you know, what was the passionate problem solving that you were looking to do there?

Renuka Nadkarni:

Sure. Absolutely, Scott. So, as I mentioned, I have always followed the industry evolution for the last couple of decades. And we are very fortunate to live in the times that we are in, because technology is completely changing things on a daily basis. And the thing I like about cybersecurity more so than the others, is the lifecycle of the technologies and the companies is relatively shorter. Like every five years you see another disruptive technology that comes up, another simpler way or maybe, you know, new kinds of attacks that are coming up that you need to solve for. So, what I believe is the way industry has evolved is there was a period of time where everybody focused on infrastructure. So this is back in my Cisco days, people spent so much money on buying infrastructure, getting to the internet, it was a.com and so on and so forth, right? Then there was a second phase, which was the applications era, so to speak, and the applications era was all about the public cloud. This is when I was at VMware. In fact, VMware at one point in time was building a public cloud, and then they said maybe people are not ready yet, and they said, let’s do private cloud first. And that was a sort of like a trajectory changing decision. When I look back and I’m like, that was actually a trajectory changing decision for VMware. This is when Amazon was a bookseller. So we are talking about timeframe when there was a huge opportunity for anybody to come and take that conversation forward, right? So, there was an era of application focus and going to the cloud. And what people have figured out now is like, okay, I have solved my computer problem by going to the cloud, but I still need to get my operating model of my business sorted out. And this is where we started seeing digital transformation. That started about 10 years ago. People started talking about, you know, I’m gonna be online, I’m gonna do digital transformation. I’m using the cloud for agility and so on. And then we were all hit by Covid. So now you have your business that is actually trying to grow and do new things, new investments, do digital transformation. But on the other hand, you are severely handicapped because of the macro conditions where, first of all, the capital is very difficult. So today, the cost of capital is really, it is hard to get capital, it’s hard to get investment. Any business that you’re looking at, they’re trying to really do cost savings. So the third era that we are right now that I feel has hit us post covid is what I call conversions era. So conversion is, I want to drive efficiency. I want to get to the economies of scale. I wanna save money by putting things together. And that’s where after solving the computer problem, I now want to solve the networking and security problem. And oh, by the way, we also have a big resource crunch because there are like 3.5 million job openings in the cybersecurity space. Even hiring people with technical skills is so difficult. It’s so difficult to even figure out how to use the technology for the best benefit of my business. How do I focus on my business, you know, top line and you know, margins and not waste time and resources on building the technology, right? So I feel it’s a trifecta effect. A lot of things are going on at the same time, you’re trying to grow digital transformation, you’re trying to save money, and there’s a shortage of skill sets. And that’s what the opportunity that I saw Aryaka had where we had solved the network layer problem. And we had this, you know, global private network, which is optimized to move traffic from point A to point B anywhere in the network with the best network performance and using the same infrastructure and using the same capabilities. Now we can offer conversions to our customers. And guess what, this is what is a simple definition of the word SASE. So SASE was a term that was coined by Neil McDonald in August 2019. And I remember sitting with my CEO and briefing him about, Hey, this new thing is gonna happen, and this is a big shift in the industry where people are now gonna try to solve these very complicated problems of converging your decisions on networking security. How do I be more secure and be more agile at the same time? And that’s where I saw SASE was a huge opportunity. I looked at Aryaka. They were trying to solve this problem. They had already figured that, you know, security’s a big deal. And with my background in cybersecurity, it just made perfect sense for me to transform the organization and take it to that next level where we can truly offer a very robust SASE offer.

Scott Kinka:

Got it. It’s amazing. I mean, the timing’s perfect. I love the idea of, you know, conversion and it’s also convergence, I guess, right? In a lot of ways I think about networking in almost the exact same way as you just talked about it at a macro level. It was like networking was an infrastructure business. You bought a wire that went from one place to one place, and it was about the medium, but then you bought layer one and layer two, but as the customer, you had to be layer three and layer four, right? And kind of security comes along with that. And then of course the middle piece comes and it becomes about application. And we started selling networking, you know, largely based around MPLS as an example, where I was buying not only the medium, the one and two, but I was buying the layer three intelligence to create the network as part of it and in a lot of ways, my end got dumber because I was already sort of networked. And now you’re sort of in this conversion where a lot of things happen. SD-WAN was already well in flow before the pandemic happened, where we basically said, all right, now we’re gonna take the intelligence and we’re just gonna push it down. We’re just gonna go, I don’t even care about layers, just give me dumb internet access. And I’ll make the network effectively, but I’ll do it with intelligence, you know, over that. And then the cheese got moved, then it went from, you know, 21st percent of people being at home and it was an SD-WAN problem to, I’m not even sure I know what a WAN is anymore. In a lot of ways, because there are more constituent endpoints that aren’t even in an office in most businesses today, then there are actual office buildings to bring together. So I love that kind of natural progression. And I think you can say the same thing about networking. I think you say the same thing about security. You know, we brought it, then we gave it away, now it’s kind of back to the edge. And it’s really an interesting way of looking at it. How did I do? At least in sort of paraphrasing?

 

SASE: Transforming Network Security for the Cloud-First Era

Renuka Nadkarni:

You caught on Scott, and I think the one side of the equation, so you covered the users moving away from wherever they are gonna be working from. But there is an equal mirror effect on the application side where applications are not in the data center anymore because they are now in public clouds, or they could be delivered as a SASE. Yeah. So not only are you dealing with one side of the sources of like, you know, where the users are, you’re also dealing with the other, which is the applications are no more in your data center. So I like that immunology of last mile, middle mile, and first mile. So when I was talking about the evolution from infrastructure to application to conversions, what happened in the application era is people jumped to the cloud just to find out that the cost of operating in the cloud was tremendously higher than what they had planned for. And one of the costs of operating in the cloud, I think computers are probably okay. Computing is relatively sustainable, but when you are using the cloud for your primary business, the egress from the cloud to the internet, that bandwidth cost was humongous. And I think this is where there is a very interesting opportunity for people like us to solve the network and compute and security together. So compute, let’s just say public cloud has solved it, but the network and security is wide open from a cost savings perspective, from the architecture perspective and the dynamics of users being anywhere, applications being anywhere. How do you even make sure that you have end-to-end connectivity?

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. Well, in a lot of ways, if you think just at a macro level, again, it’s like we were one to one, then one to many, and now it’s many to many, you know? I mean, at any point are we beyond? Here’s a fun question, I mean, you meet with customers all the time, I’m sure, and you’re doing that and you’re doing their discovery, and you’re trying to figure out their problems so that you see if there’s something that Aryaka can do for them. But when you do that, you know, you’re putting together a proposal for something. Are we yet at a point where the base unit of measure in those conversations is no longer a number of locations, it’s just the number of people?

Renuka Nadkarni:

It’s a combination, as you mentioned. It’s many to many, right? So it’s like, I have users who are coming from wherever I need the last mile connectivity, private access, or the remote access figured out. And even with the private access, remote access, back in the day, people used VPNs and IPSec. I’m sure you had that experience. I was at the early VPN stage when VPNs were not even a thing, and everybody struggled with like that client and getting it ready and the performance being low and, and we all just like lived with it because that was, you know, when you’re sick, you’re working from home, right? That was not the default way. Now that the default ways that I’m gonna be remote, people are very frustrated if there’s a latency and the applications don’t work. We have customers who told us they actually put together an office in the box, and they shipped things to them, they had an access point wireless router, they had a laptop and they shipped it to people’s homes. And, sure enough, they got connected, but they were not able to perform their daily task because they couldn’t even have a phone conversation as an example, because the network bandwidth was not reliable or was not available. So the point is that there is so much of a different expectation and user experience that has shifted dramatically in terms of how remote users work from home. Similarly, when you go to the cloud, the problem our customers had was you have a cloud workload in say Amazon, and it is say in US West, but your remote workers are like all over the place. They’re coming from Europe, they’re coming from Asia, and their experience is so bad that by the time it loads, the users get frustrated, the employees get frustrated. So it has a huge impact on productivity. It has a huge impact on like, you know, just getting things done and, and that is like a real core problem that our customers always talk to us about.

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. I read, it was a Gartner document, but it effectively said that their belief was that the average business could support 20% of their workforce being home pre pandemic. Which is kind of interesting, when you think about it. I mean, I tell this story a lot. You’ll laugh, being effectively a networking company at the end of the day, but we sold more bandwidth in March, April and May of 2020 than we had for years and years and years before that. And it was literally just adding bandwidth to the headquarters to get people over the VPN to the headquarters to get them back out to the cloud, and just burning all that two-way bandwidth, which was entirely and completely unnecessary. At the end of the day, definitely changing the strategy and the story. Help me out with something, if you wouldn’t mind, because we do have leaders who are listening to this podcast who are, some are technical and some are business leaders, and if they’re on the business leader side, not the technical side, they’re just thinking about this whole idea that, oh, I’m here in hybrid work and, you know, everybody’s home and everybody’s in the office and there’s no more, to your point, expectation that it’s a substandard experience at home, and then we’re doing all this while the security threat footprint is getting wider and wider, and my IT guy’s telling me to worry about that. Can you give me from your perspective a layman’s description of what’s different about SASE? What does SASE do, you know, in your words, to the bus to a business owner?

Renuka Nadkarni:

Yeah,, I think the simplest way to think about SASE is you wanna offer security without compromising performance, okay? You wanna offer the same level of security without compromising the user experience and the performance. And that has been a tradition for the 20 years that I was in that has always been a challenge because when I built security products back in the day we were asked to be in a monitoring mode, like sit on the side being out of band mode. And, security cannot be effective or enforced if it doesn’t exist in line. So this has been a dilemma forever between networking and security. And today things have gotten really complicated because you cannot have these security products as a checkbox anymore. You’ve got to have them effective, you’ve got to enforce them. And what SASE does is it really allows you to have ubiquitous security with the same level of effectiveness across all the users and for all the applications, right? It’s very important that you have security, which is you know, broad and deep at the same time. And that can be enforced. And the only way to enforce security is through the network, because we all know that the network is basically the plumbing that carries the packets and can take actions. So what SASE does is it actually combines these two concepts together, which is, now that I’m carrying your traffic, I know what is good, what is bad, what is okay, what is not okay, what are your access control policies. I can actually take those actions right when the traffic is going through it. So SASE is this promise of combining the simplicity of the networking with high performance availability, all of those factors, and ensuring that you can apply the same levels of security and have a good security posture across the entire network, not just bits and pieces, not just in front of your sensitive data, not just in front of your certain applications. Because the weakest link is actually, you know, it’s not your high performance app high mission critical applications, it actually could be anything, right? I mean, we talked about targets, right? It was the HVAC vendor. I mean, think about it, like, how abstract is that conversation?. That is what SASE does and provides

Scott Kinka:

Got you. And I’ll read that back and I’ll say it a slightly different way. You’re certainly free to disagree with me. I think about it as I describe it, I’ll say to business owners, historically, your remote workers, it was a concept of using the internet securely tunneling back to the office, and then applying security to get people out to the internet. And in a lot of ways, you know, edge is the last of the acronyms in SASE. It pushes that intelligence out, so you don’t need to pull everybody back. You’re applying the security edge everywhere where people are getting to the internet as opposed to kind of dragging everybody back to headquarters logically, and then pushing them out through kinda the big corporate pipe, if you will. Oversimplified, but probably works for a business leader.

 

Navigating the Complexity of SASE with Adaptive Security

Renuka Nadkarni:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s definitely one way to think about it. I am gonna go a little bit technical. I have one comment to make on that. When people say security, one thing that always is my pet peeve, is like, what do you mean by security? When you say security, are you saying access control? Are you talking about threat protection? Are you talking about risk mitigation? What piece of security are you referring to? And one of the challenges that the security industry has, has had, you know for decades is we have point solutions for point problems. So if you look at like, I mean, one of the common things I hear from people is we have 65 different security vendors today, and we have like 10 plus clients on our desktop, on our laptops. We have like multiple of these networking appliances, which are service changes one after the other. And after all of this, I still cannot say that, Hey, I’m secure. So from a business perspective, it’s like a bottomless pit and you continue to pour money in it, and guess what? At the end of it, it’s not getting you what you really wanted, right? So what SASE does is, and the way I like to describe things from a SASE context, is you apply the right security measures based on what is needed. So if the user is going to the internet, you may want to do URL filtering, SWG technology security. If the users are going to the public cloud, you may want to do data protection to see if there’s any compliance challenges. With the data in the cloud, if the user is going to SASE applications, you may want to do CASSB, which is, you know, which is only needed if you’re going to the SASE applications. So being able to be judicious about which security to apply when is a very important aspect because if you try to do a hundred percent technology, like all a hundred percent security products to a hundred percent of the traffic, you’re gonna be spending a whole bunch of money a whole bunch of time, and yet you may not see the results because it makes the whole thing very brittle. So the key is to apply the right security enforcement technologies for the right traffic. And this is where the traffic steering with the network layer and applying the right security policies with the security makes sense unique. So SASE is that promise, we’re right security for the right place at the right time.

Scott Kinka:

Got it. That’s a really, really good description. And I think a good stepping off point I’ll ask just this question first. We obviously represent a ton of technology companies. Our strategists are out in the field meeting with customers trying to solve whatever that one problem now they have that day, it happens to be. And I like to ask our suppliers and partners to sort of interface with us around what their superpower is. And so if I said, what’s Ayaka’s superpower? I think you may have answered it already, you know, in the context of the larger conversation, I’m sure you have, but I’ll ask the question so you can just sort of frame it in one sentence.

Renuka Nadkarni:

So I like to use the phrase we got you covered. You know, this is what we tell our customers, we got you covered. And the reason we talk about this in the customer context is we always meet customers where they are. One of the big sorts of misunderstandings that people have is that SASE is like a binary function. Today you are not SASE, tomorrow you’re SASE and that’s not how things work. SASE is a journey. And when you talk about SASE you have to actually think about your infrastructure very carefully. You have to think about what you have today for your firewalls? Do you have hardware firewalls which are getting end of life? Do you have subscriptions for things like SSWG, which is actually coming to an end? And when you migrate to SASE you have to be very, very prudent, and you have to be very thoughtful about how you migrate to SASE because it’s not a step function. And that is Aryaka’s superpower, which is where we meet customers where they are. So when we go into a customer, they are typically replacing our MPLS circuit. We help them with that. We help them with monitoring their last mile, making sure the connectivity end to end is available between all the last mile, middle mile and first mile. We have direct connections to the cloud assets and so on. But after that, we talk about, so what are you doing today on your firewalls as an example? And then we try to integrate those capabilities. If you have an existing firewall from different vendors like Checkpoint, Palo Alto, we actually manage it for them. Again, we talk about resource constraints, so we help them manage, and then we help them migrate gradually to whatever they want, whatever policies they like. We help them do URL filtering. We have things like cloud connectors. So Aryaka basically takes the traffic and sends it over to whoever your cloud provider, cloud security provider might be. It could be Prisma from Palo Alto, it could be a Zscaler, it could be Netskope. We really are agnostic to what the customer choices are. Our goal is to make sure that we have the customer covered, we help them where they are, we help them take through this journey. And it’s, like I said, a journey for the whole industry. Helping customers through that, hand holding them is what our superpower is.

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. That’s a great answer. This may be an uncomfortable question, but I’m gonna go there. Given your career, and you’ve been to a lot of interesting places, what’s your superpower?

Renuka Nadkarni:

I think my superpower is, you know, to make things work. I get things done, and there are many dynamics to it. One is technology conversations. We talked about them. And I’m super fascinated by the potential. And I know AI has to be mentioned in all conversations. So AI is one of the things which we know can change a whole bunch of things. My superpower is to bring the strength of these technologies, such as AI, to what we do today. And, because Aryaka has access to all the network traffic of all our customers by applying very simple statistical analysis, simple modeling, simple ML, and then in the future, AI, I’m not even going to AI yet. I feel we can have a tremendous amount of observability. So my goal at Aryaka is to move Aryaka from being a networking company to a security company, to being an observability company where we can actually predict how your traffic is gonna change, what kinds of attacks you might be vulnerable to, and how do we proactively help businesses obtain business goals of cost savings, as well as trying to be more secure. At the same time, you don’t need to compromise security for cost and the other way around. So my superpower is just to make things work and, you know, get things with the best possible outcomes to use the technology.

 

Gen Z and AI: A Lethal Combination Disrupting the Workforce

Scott Kinka:

I love it. That’s a great answer. I’m gonna stay on that though then, because I think you offered some predictions of the future for the company, but I’m gonna ask you to maybe offer a shameless prediction to all of us, given your extensive background in technology, and I don’t care what it’s about. It could be geopolitical sports, entertainment or in our industry. But put your prognosticator hat on for us, if you would and give us something that’s gonna occur in the next 18 months or so.

Renuka Nadkarni:

So I think Gen Z is gonna take over the workspace. I feel like Gen Z is a huge disruption in the way we do business, the way we do things. And Gen Z comes with their own superpowers. So, understanding technology and using technology as tools is Gen Z’s superpower. And socially, the combination of Gen Z with AI is a very lethal combination. And what I think is happening is people are trying to mold Gen Z into our ways of doing things. And I think we should not do that. We should resist the temptation of molding Gen Z into the other, like a traditional way of running business. We should instead try to nurture Gen Z to actually take us forward multiple by multiple forces, because this is an extremely potent, very, very capable workforce. But they have their own. How do you make them work to your advantage is actually a big challenge culturally, right? So I feel like Gen Z is coming, they’re gonna take over the workplace, and over the next 18 months, if you are able to adapt to the ways of working, and if you’re able to really harvest the, you know, the strengths that they bring, the companies will be super successful. But if we are into the space where we are trying to fit them into force, fit them into our world it’s gonna be difficult. So, I think just getting ready for that disruption that’s happening in the workforce with both the people and the technology together, I think we should just brace ourselves and get ready for that.

Scott Kinka:

It’s a really, really interesting thought. I wanna ask a follow-up question. Would we be in a position to embrace Gen Z had we not had the pandemic disrupt the way that the last previous generations worked so significantly?

Renuka Nadkarni:

That’s a great idea, that’s a super interesting thought. Of course the answer is no. I can tell you from my own personal experience when I worked in a larger company working for the CEO, right? We were an in-person culture. I would actually, every Monday morning, I used to wake up at like 5:30, take a flight at 6:30, be in the office at 8:30. And it was mandatory for everybody to be in person. And guess what, you know, a pandemic happened. People had to figure out ways to make it work. And Gen Z is actually very influenced by pandemics more so than us. And their expectations of what work is. It’s very interesting. Even in my own office, like just last week I was talking to somebody and I said, Hey, we want people to be in the office on certain days so we can collaborate and work. And they were like, yeah, but I already talked to the recruiter that I was not gonna be here every day. And so even like, there’s such a huge expectation difference. You’re absolutely right. We have been conditioned a lot better today compared to what we were like three years ago before the pandemic. I mean that conversation was very strange, like at so many levels. Because they were like, are you serious? Like, you wanna be at work? I’m like, why would you wanna be at work?

Scott Kinka:

Well, I mean, at least we’re conscious of the problem, our own problem. And I think the pandemic probably caused that because we got so disrupted, but I think we’ve become more accepting of alternative work styles. But I think also it just brought so much of that competition to light that at least, you know, the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. I’m hopeful that today’s business leaders at least understand that they have the problem enough to know that there’s work to be put to address it. So I’ll stick by that answer in the short term. That was a really interesting little tidbit there. I will definitely pull something out there for my show introduction. That was great. So I’ll ask you one more, before I let you go, because you are going to see Oppenheimer with your team today, I think is what you were telling me earlier.

Renuka Nadkarni:

Yes.

Scott Kinka:

That’s amazing. So I’ll let you get outta the office and get there. Just one more. I ask all of our guests if the next transformative event, like the pandemic happens and you know, technology is degraded significantly, and one application remains working on your mobile device and you had to choose which one it was, which one would it be?

Renuka Nadkarni:

Messaging. Just being able to message people and just talk like, you know, connect with people. I think that is super important. And I didn’t say phone call, honestly, because I don’t know, somehow people are going away from the phone call and, and just the ability to do one too many with messages and broadcasting I think is an amazing app. So that is one app I would like on my mobile when I stops working

Scott Kinka:

It’ll be super helpful in the zombie apocalypse to be able to coordinate our activities, I think via text message. All good there. I get it. And a great choice, of course. Renuka, this has been a really, really fun conversation. I hope it was for you as well.

Renuka Nadkarni:

Yeah, it was great and really good insights from you, Scott. I mean, it was amazing to hear your thoughts on some of the stuff.

Scott Kinka:

Well good. I really, really appreciate that. Thank you. And you know, Aryaka is a great partner for Bridgepointe. We do a lot of work together and you know, if we’re looking forward to continuing that growth, if our listeners wanna find out a little bit more about Aryaka, how would you recommend they do it?

Renuka Nadkarni:

I think the best way to do that is find us on LinkedIn. We are spelled as A R Y A K A. You can go to our website, which is aryaka.com. And we are always available. The best way to connect, I would say, is on LinkedIn.

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. Well, I appreciate the time. It was really insightful and I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Thanks so much for being on the bridge.

Renuka Nadkarni:

Thank you so much, Scott.

 

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