Securing Hybrid Work: Venki Krishnababu, lululemon
On this week’s Security Unlocked we’re featuring for the second and final time, a special crossover episode of our sister-podcast, Security Unlocked: CISO Series with Bret Arsenault.
Lululemon has been on the forefront of athleisure wear since its founding in 1998, but while many of its customers look at it exclusively as a fashion brand, at a deeper level this fashion empire is bolstered by a well thought out and maintained digital infrastructure that relies on a hard working team to run it.
On today’s episode, Microsoft CISO Bret Arsenault sits down with Venki Krishnababu, SVP of Global Technology Services at Lululemon. They discuss the ways in which technology plays into the brand, how Venki lead a seamless transition into the remote work caused by the pandemic, and how he’s using the experiences of the past year to influence future growth in the company.
In This Episode You Will Learn:
- Why Venki feels so passionately about leading with empathy
- Why Venki saw moving to remote work as only the tip of the iceberg; and how he handled what laid below.
- Specific tools and practices that have lead to Venki’s success
Some Questions We Ask:
- What is the biggest lesson learned during the pandemic?
- How does one facilitate effective management during this time?
- How does Lululemon view the future of in-person versus remote work?
Venki Krishnababu’s LinkedIn:
Brett Arsenault’s LinkedIn:
Nic Fillingham’s LinkedIn:
Natalia Godyla’s LinkedIn:
Microsoft Security Blog:
Security Unlocked: CISO Series with Bret Arsenault
[Full transcript can be found at https://aka.ms/SecurityUnlockedEp29]
Nic Fillingham: (00:08)
Hello. Welcome to Security Unlocked a new podcast from Microsoft, where we unlock insights from the latest in news and research from across Microsoft security engineering and operations teams. I'm Nic Fillingham.
Natalia Godyla: (00:20)
And I'm Natalia Godyla. In each episode, we'll discuss the latest stories from Microsoft Security, deep dive into the newest threat intel, research and data science.
Nic Fillingham: (00:30)
And profile some of the fascinating people working on artificial intelligence in Microsoft Security.
Natalia Godyla: (00:36)
And now, let's unlock the pod. Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Security Unlocked and hello, Nic, how are you doing today?
Nic Fillingham: (00:46)
Hello, Natalia. I'm doing very well, thanks. I'm very excited for today's episode because, you know, for the past, you know, 18 months-ish, however long we've been working from home, I've been almost always in workout gear and my workout gear is, uh, is predominantly by a company called, uh, Lululemon. Very nice, comfortable stuff. And the reason I'm saying this is that I actually have a very sort of legitimate reason to be standing here in front of you in my, my Lululemon workout gear, which is?
Natalia Godyla: (01:14)
Well today we have another takeover episode. So you won't be hearing from us. You'll be hearing another episode of Security Unlocked CISO series with Bret Arsenault. And today Bret is chatting with the SVP of Global Technology Services at Lululemon, Venki Krishnababu.
Nic Fillingham: (01:33)
Yeah. This is a great episode two of this new series. For those of you listening to the Security Unlocked podcast, uh, two episodes ago, we dropped the very first episode of this new series with Mark Russinovich. We got a great response from folks, so we thought let's, let's drop another episode. This is episode number two of that new series. And today Bret speaks with not an internal Microsoft leader, but an external, external class here at Microsoft, customer CISO equivalent in Venki Krishnababu from Lululemon. It's a fantastic conversation. I learned a lot about how Lululemon is, is very much a technology company and Bret talks to Venki about, about Venki's career, how he's helped steer Lululemon's technology strategy through the pandemic and what their learnings have been over the past year and how that's sort of going to influence their security strategy in the future.
Nic Fillingham: (02:22)
Fantastic conversation, and very much, uh, a really strong episode two for this series. So highly recommend that in addition to being subscribers of Security Unlocked you become a new subscriber of Security Unlocked CISO's series with Bret Arsenault, which you can find @securityunlockedcisoseries.com and CISO is spelled C-I-S-O. So securityunlockedcisoseries.com.
Natalia Godyla: (02:45)
Yes, and this is going to be the last time that we share one of these episodes in our feed. So as Nic said, if you are interested in this new series, go ahead to that link and subscribe so you don't miss any of the upcoming episodes, which will be dropping every other Wednesday.
Nic Fillingham: (03:00)
And with that, on with the pod.
Natalia Godyla: (03:00)
On with the pod.
Bret Arsenault: (03:06)
Today, I have a special guest joining me, Venki Krishnababu. Venki is the Senior Vice President of Global Technology Services at Lululemon, the athletic apparel company based in Vancouver, BC. Venki is a transformational, business savvy, tech leader with extensive global technology experience. He's been at Lululemon for three years and was previously the CTO of Premera Blue Cross, where his leadership was pivotal to their digital transformation. Before that he was at Nordstrom for 17 years, where he led the company's service-based architecture strategy. And also for those who don't know, it's been over a year, Venki lives in my neighborhood, and yet we are doing things remotely still. We haven't had a chance to meet in person. So I hope soon we can actually meet in person.
Venki Krishnababu: (03:47)
Yeah, likewise, Bret, I'm definitely looking forward to meet you as well. It's such a great neighborhood and thank you for having me in your, uh, first podcast. I never see that as a risk at all because, uh, I know you Bret, so, uh, glad to be here and join and learn and share.
Bret Arsenault: (04:04)
No, I appreciate it. I think today would be great is to discuss some of the biggest lessons learned from the pandemic in terms of having to send employees home overnight, to remote working, not being employed. And it's just an amazing time, I think a lot of people talk about it, but understanding what it means for you at Lululemon as the senior leader you are, and then to how other people can learn from that. I think, you know, for me personally, someone recently said, yeah, I'm working from my home office, which I believe you may be doing today, and I realized I was blessed enough, one, to have a home and, two, that if I have an office that means I have a job and I know that's not true for everybody during these times. So I'm not confused by how fortunate we are, but I would think it'd be a great session for us to have a conversation on how we're making these things work for our respective companies.
Venki Krishnababu: (04:46)
Yeah, absolutely. And I share the same sentiment, Bret, very grateful to have a home and to have an office and to have a family under one roof and, uh, very, very blessed to be here and be part of this podcast.
Bret Arsenault: (04:58)
That'd be great. Before we get into the topic though, maybe you could give me a little bit about how you got into the tech industry and a little bit about your career path, because I think it's a pretty interesting background.
Venki Krishnababu: (05:08)
Yeah. Sure, Bret. It's been, I'm coming at the cusp of around 27 plus years, um, in technology. Predominantly, it's, uh, all about enabling retail business with, um, strong engineering and technology teams. I started out as a hardcore database engineer. That's where I started and, uh, and worked in different roles in almost two decades at Nor- Nordstrom, different type of roles, architecture, engineering, leadership, production support, operations, contact center, OMNi, all kinds of, you know, experience, um, all stemmed up to one thing which I'm very passionate about, which is leading and supporting people and delivering, delivering some great values for retail business and enabling them. And that's been, uh, my entry into technology and I love of technology, I love people, working with people and, and creating some great stuff together.
Bret Arsenault: (05:55)
It's a truly diverse background on all the different roles that you've had. So I think you're exceptionally qualified for the conversation today, which was, even with 27 years of experience, um, I don't think any of us predicted the situation we have, even when I was table topping pandemic exercise, I didn't see it the way this happened out. But I think as people come back to work, it's one thing to think about sending people home, but as we start, you know, working on people coming back and how we do productivity, how do you think about companies truly embracing this hybrid work environment? And what does that look like for Lululemon in the retail industry?
Venki Krishnababu: (06:27)
Yeah. In a, such a, an interesting time as we live in, uh, Bret, as you said, no one was ready to prepare to face this global pandemic, and it hit us so fast, it came like a flash on us. And the, since pandemic, many companies have, uh, pivoted and successfully shifted and shifted their business to digital work from remote. One thing pandemic has done is demystified this work from home. And it's also kind of gave an ultimatum kind of for us, set the ultimatum for leaders like us, which is a remote work or no work.
Bret Arsenault: (07:01)
Venki Krishnababu: (07:01)
I mean, that's the kind of the ultimatum. So, uh, frankly speaking Bret, to answer your question about the hybrid, mileage, you know, varies, it depends from one company to another company. And we are in the early stages of, uh, exploring hybrid environment and we also leaning in and learning from our peers and especially technology industry, like, [inaudible 00:07:22] and Microsoft and other top technology companies are kind of in the forefront, trailblazing it, we also learning and watching the industry. To me, it's uh, we are, as I said in the early stages, I'm a strong believer of test, learn, let the data and experience drive the decisions and how this hybrid work is going to set. But we are definitely exploring a hybrid work environment.
Bret Arsenault: (07:45)
That's amazing. And you, you're obviously a unique company in that you're a tech company, you do retail, you have manufacturing. And then this, you know, with the recent acquisition of the Mirror you also have a hardware line. So as I think about it, and I'd be curious, I think this is a practitioner's forum, so what would be in your mind, the biggest lesson you learned, uh, in this past year during the pandemic? Like, you know, what would you do again and what would you do differently? If we could focus on those two areas, it'd be super helpful for probably me and our listeners.
Venki Krishnababu: (08:13)
Yeah. Oh, boy. Talk about lessons. There are many, we as, uh, leaders and humans, I truly believe I am a student forever and we are continuous learners and that's the mindset I come in every day. And this pandemic has taught us a lot of stuff. And one thing which stood out for me, besides technology, besides, you know, creating a scale of remote shift and all this stuff, one thing really, really stood out for me, which is people and how resilient and the adaption and adoption of, to this new way of working, shifting and doing that in less than three, four weeks. To be honest, I was, I'm humbled, at the same time incredibly impressed and thankful to the entire, you know, team here, rallied and within three weeks we are, in our three to four weeks, our end year corporate functions. We call it as SSC, which is Store Support Center.
Bret Arsenault: (09:05)
Venki Krishnababu: (09:06)
Everything we do revolves around our guest in stores, we call it as our corporate headquarters our store support centers. So what we did is we shifted our entire, more than almost 2000 plus work force, corporate functions, completely remote work. And that's just kind of the, the tip of the iceberg, right?
Bret Arsenault: (09:24)
Venki Krishnababu: (09:24)
So then if you take the next step, you know, as we go through the pandemic, pandemic, like March, April, pretty much the entire economy, our entire market, everything was shut down, I mean, we have to close our stores. So then what happened? Business shifted. So we started to go full on digital. And as a result, if you look at our contact center, we call it as the guest education center, GEC. We used to have almost 400 folks concentrated in one full building to serve our guests. This is the, the guest first in our contact line, right? If anything, wrong with the order or if they need any help or even for something they want to buy, apply many functions and services, GEC, uh, performs. We shifted them to work from remote, the entire GEC workforce, and that happened in less than four to five weeks. And this all things, like you said, right, we are not prepared. There's no step-by-step playbook, if a global pandemic hits, exactly these are the things you had to do.
Venki Krishnababu: (10:26)
What we did is, uh, having a, a resilient team and then all leaders and the team putting their heads together, had one goal in mind, how do we enable our people? How do we serve our guests in the best possible way? And business continuity. If we keeping these three a priority, we made several decisions and we implemented several technologies and we enable this, uh, remote workforce. So that's what I would say the biggest learning for me is the resiliency and when committed people put their heads together and how they evolve out of a crisis, it is mesmerizing for me to watch and share very, very fortunate to be part of that journey. That's the first thing I would say in, like, a macro level for me, learning is about how did we adapt and adopt? And then the secondary set of learnings, right. There are technologies, there are platforms and the demystifying of working from home. You know, we, we enable many collaboration tools that also includes our teams who full, went on full on teams, enterprise level, and on top of that security. You know, once we go remote, we are no-
Bret Arsenault: (11:33)
Venki Krishnababu: (11:33)
... longer protected by the, you're, you're, you're kind of very core to that, and, um, uh, you're an expert in that area. Like the, you know, we no longer protected by the perimeter of our SSE and all the security is out the window. Now we need to pivot and how did we pivot, you know, ensuring that we have a large scale cloud centric, scalable VPN platforms, [inaudible 00:11:52] and another of how did we enable our GSE workforce? So many companies have gone through several ways to e- enable their workforce and keep the business running and humming. One thing I can tell about the second part of the question you asked about is, like, we are definitely much better prepared. My biggest wish is, we don't want to go through this again.
Bret Arsenault: (12:14)
Venki Krishnababu: (12:14)
You know, as the pandemic subside, we got a lot of community learnings as well, also social behavior learning, hopefully we learn and apply them so we don't have to go through that again. But in that case for, for better reason, if we go there, I would say resiliency planning, in my books, is a never ending process. It's always have to happen in continuum. So what we have learned, create a playbook, whatever you have, we have, we rely and lean on that and improvise further is what I would say I would do differently. Learn, apply, improvise, iterate, and make it even better.
Bret Arsenault: (12:49)
No, that's great. I think to your point around people being resilient, we've also got resilient systems, but I think we've learned a lot about people resiliency and in particular, the impact on managers. For a minute on the tech side, I'm curious though, you did some pretty interesting things with RFID at Lululemon through COVID, I think, that really helped. Can you explain a little bit about that?
Venki Krishnababu: (13:07)
Yeah. So what we have done is, we have, uh, rolled out our RFID platform, which is truly helpful in store operations, not only for store operations, all our OMNi fulfillment functions. So during pandemic, what we did is, we were able to provide, continue to provide, of course, with safety first and precaution, all the social distancing precaution, and we followed all the regul-, uh, regulations and rules, what we did is we used those platforms to unlock, uh, many new capabilities to start with, uh, store fulfillment and on, uh, shipped from stores, be able to pivot and ship digital orders and fulfill e-com orders, uh, from stores as an example. And then as the pandemic, in a start to somewhat subside, we start to slowly open the stores based on the capacity on the guidelines of the local government there, right? So we unlocked many new capabilities in preparation to provide that great service to our educators in a socially distances manner at the same time in safe manner.
Venki Krishnababu: (14:12)
Some of the technology, like, curbside pickups and then virtual wait-list, which is, um, and on digital appointments, contactless payments, and the list goes on and on it's because of the, some strong foundational platforms we put in place and which allowed us to create new many technical capabilities to help our educators. We call our sales associates as educators. So educator in store, empowering them with some powerful technology that enabled them to serve our guests, in-store guests in a much secured, socially distanced manner without compromising the service. So those are some technology unlocks we have done and we, the, the foundation which we put, allowed us to do OMNi fulfillment, the buy online pickup in store, buy online and pickup at door is another one which we enabled and gift tubs. Uh, during holiday seasons, we created less dense packed gift tubs, which is focused only on gifts. So it was, it was, uh, quite a journey. And we did all that in, like, three, four months, like, flash speed, I would say.
Bret Arsenault: (15:12)
So here's my question then. Do you think that you used to go too slow?
Venki Krishnababu: (15:15)
Oh, wow. The thing is speed and-
Bret Arsenault: (15:18)
That was, that was k-, that was kind of mean, but, I mean, it's, I mean, I look at, I look at all this digital transformation, I even look at us and I'm like, well, why didn't I push on some of those harder, sooner?
Venki Krishnababu: (15:27)
No, what happened is it's everyone rallying towards the same thing, right? And all of a sudden you get this momentum and the flywheel effect. But you're right, the entire world digital acceleration, which is supposed to be five to 10 years, it happened within one year because pandemic forced us.
Bret Arsenault: (15:43)
Yeah. No. And I think in fairness, like, it's sort of a teaser question which was, some of the things that you did wouldn't have worked had it not been for the pandemic, like, people in the in-store experience and everything else. And one of the things I was curious about in that scenario, if we could is, that, so you have the, the things you did when you, as it happened and as you were into the middle of the pandemic, now we have, as you said, more places coming online in different capacities. In this hybrid workforce, what's Lululemon thinking about the models going forward. Is it, you know, nobody's coming back or certain rules are coming back or it's 50/50, or what, what's, what's your, what's your principled view on that?
Venki Krishnababu: (16:19)
The principal view on this is as, as I mentioned earlier, Bret, we are in the early stages. We are definitely, you know, exploring our, um, hybrid work environment, our SSCs are still there, uh, which is our corporate headquarters or the tech hubs or the hubs. We are a global company. We have SSC's across the globe. So what we are doing is it's, uh, definitely we're going in with the mindset of explore this hybrid environment and understand how this works for us and then are just as needed as we go, right? And this is where, what I truly believe on and let, let that data and let the experience dictates how we evolve. The percentage of 50 here, 50 there is somewhat secondary.
Bret Arsenault: (17:05)
Venki Krishnababu: (17:05)
What primary is, there's no one size fits all approach for this. Some companies might go a hundred percent, some companies might say, hey, you gotta be 80% here and 20% there. So for us, we have not decided on percentage, rather we have more of a test and learn, explore, understand. And also we also keenly leaning on other industries too. And this is where, Bret, I would love to hear from you also, turn the question back to you, like how you're seeing it and hear from you as well.
Bret Arsenault: (17:34)
Hey now, you don't get to do that to the host.
Venki Krishnababu: (17:36)
Bret Arsenault: (17:36)
I think adapt and adopt and adopt and adapt, you know, model. That's a virtuous cycle that you have to think about and I think that's a smart way to think about it. I think for me, I mean, there's always a balanced view and so the question is there's companies, and some industries are more prone and capable to be able to do this, but, you know, where you're a full-on prem department and does the pendulum swing all the way to the right or as you, you know, it's, how far do you swing that pendulum? And I think much like you, our, our view is, we certainly have seen that people have the capability to be productive remotely in many of the roles, and we will continue to embrace and support that, but we'll also use the data to make sure, like, I look at the daily data on our productivity, on our collaboration capabilities, on the wellness of our employees and if we start seeing it get out of whack, or frankly, if we see competitive pressures-
Venki Krishnababu: (18:22)
Bret Arsenault: (18:22)
... we'll react to those as well. But for sure, the two things I would say we've been seeing is, we've seen a new model that can work and be very effective, both for our employees and our vendors. And we'll continue to adopt more of that. And then we will continue to use, like you said, the data to let us know whether it's still working or if we've gone too far.
Venki Krishnababu: (18:42)
Bret Arsenault: (18:42)
And I think that's going to be super interesting, but it's, I think the biggest issue, and I'd be curious to hear your view on this is, is how to help managers be effective in that model. Like the IC, the individual contributors, I kind, that's not so hard to go do, but we've, the data's shown us, that managers really bear the brunt of timezone changes of their work force or, you know, trying to be more available and they, they take a lot more of the hit. So how do we make sure that they don't have biases in that space or that we arm them to be super effective? And I know we've talked a little bit about that in the past. How are you guys, how are you thinking about that with, uh, you know, enabling your managers to be effective managers in this scenario?
Venki Krishnababu: (19:18)
Uh, yeah, I think, uh, it is important to ensure that we are providing the necessary support and the guidance for our, our leaders, right? I would start with first, ensure there's proper logistics and infrastructure, which includes, um, security is implicit, right-
Bret Arsenault: (19:33)
Venki Krishnababu: (19:34)
... part of that.
Bret Arsenault: (19:34)
Venki Krishnababu: (19:34)
So make sure that's there and be clear about what the policy, the why behind it and be crystal clear about it. If you leave gray area it's a slippery slope so you gotta be clear about that. And then followed by do not lose sight of culture. The, the culture is also important for any, any company. And it's very important and continuous feedback gathering and creating active, explicit listening sessions, understanding what's going on in the ground and that deep listening is important. And then corrections followed by the continuous feedback loop, uh, is, uh, in a, in a technical term, we call it a CICD loop, right?
Bret Arsenault: (20:07)
Venki Krishnababu: (20:07)
So the same way, same way we need to have that continuous, agile feedback loop, uh, to make micro corrections as opposed to waiting for something big to happen and making a macro corrections, which would be painful. And again, the second part would be leadership, leading people, leading teams, supporting them even in a pre-pandemic time in a global multinational workforce like us is never an easy task, right? We are highly distributed. We are global, multinational company. I have teams in, uh, in, in global in our different locations. So some level of careful and thoughtfulness is required even before this pandemic started. Now with this pandemic in mind, we need to make sure inclusivity, equity and equal-, all this stuff is part of, you know, being explicit about it, this area is important. And the last but not least, I would say definitely empathy, creating that empathy and leading with empathy and extra empathy at this time for our people is ex- extremely important as we navigate through this pandemic.
Bret Arsenault: (21:08)
Thank you. Let me come back to a comment you made about getting data and being empathetic. I think, you know, we refer to as digital empathy and I think-
Venki Krishnababu: (21:14)
Bret Arsenault: (21:14)
... these times have shown us that's super important. I'm not looking for an advertisement for Microsoft or any other company, but I am curious, like, what are some of the tools you're going to use to actually help people be productive in a hybrid workforce? And what are some of the tools you're going to use to really be able to, you know, collect that data that people could learn from on the, on the call?
Venki Krishnababu: (21:32)
So another good question, uh, Bret. There are some tools, and I personally also use it for my personal effectiveness, we use this, uh, all 365 Suite quite a bit, uh, the My Analytics part-
Bret Arsenault: (21:43)
Venki Krishnababu: (21:43)
... which clearly tells me, okay, how much time I'm spending on meetings, how much think time I have and who are my top collaborators, all those things are really intriguing to me and I sometimes s-, I go into this deep introspection, why did I do that in our last week for that long, right? So allows me to understand, okay, how do I balance my time? And, and a lot of other folks within the company also use it. And I also use screen time for my mobile devices. And, um, you know, that's another way to look at it. I'm a big believer in data, but there's only one area. I don't measure things with data, Bret, this is going to be somewhat related and at the same time, why I believe technology, data analytics going to help us provide insights and become efficient continuously. There's no question about that belief.
Venki Krishnababu: (22:30)
But what I believe mo-, beyond that is, in, um, we as leaders having the right team, right people, empowering them, creating the friction-free platform for them to collaborate, when we do all those things and keep an eye on those things, productivity becomes an a, an automatic outcome of that. And so that's where I pay close attention to the, the, the stress levels of the team. I, I, when I'm in the meeting, I explicitly ask for, let's have the video let's have, especially one-on-one, we need to able to read the body language, understand how our people are responding. There's so many things you can pick up as human, which machines still not learned it yet.
Bret Arsenault: (23:06)
Venki Krishnababu: (23:07)
So it's a combination and balance between leadership that human empathy and connection followed by take advantage of this rich data and analytics and tools, which allows you to create more effectiveness and also make course corrections and adjustments.
Bret Arsenault: (23:23)
Yeah. And I think it's a, it's a great comment even where data's shown us that, like, I look at, you were mentioning workplace analytics, and I look at two-party calls and how much they've gone up, which is really, it's a replacement for the hallway conversation, that really subtle little thing like, hey, how did you do this? But now it requires a call. So you see those things go up. And I think, you know, having the ability to still do those is important. And then for me, sadly, I get the, hey, you sent this thing in off-hours. I'm like, no, I didn't. I was in a different timezone, but I haven't, I haven't been able to trick the system into that part yet.
Venki Krishnababu: (23:54)
Well, the technology, Bret, um, really helped me. This is my personal story I'm sharing. I'm a, I'm a runner. I love to run. And, and, and what happened during this peak of this pandemic, I lost sight of that and meetings after meeting, back-to-back, back-to-back, back-to-back. And then I kind of look at it and then use this, uh, work on analytics data, like, there's no breaks and I'm going, like, crazy. This is not sustainable. So what I did is took the data, worked with my personal assistant and ensured that incorporates, stitch deliberate breaks, that lunchtime is sacred time, unless really, really some major emergency that block is for me and I'm going to go run. That really helped me to get that mental balance. So same, I encourage my team also to ensure that you have deliberate breaks, look at, watch for data, watch for how the pattern changes. So definitely the technology does help and, uh, we also have to explicitly watch for it too.
Bret Arsenault: (24:48)
Yeah. I think that's a great example on the taking the lunch break. I think that's super important. One of the things that I think about in this scenario is just from a, just to knowing new perspective, if I could, I have this sort of standard set of questions that I ask everybody. So do you mind if I run you through a couple of them?
Venki Krishnababu: (25:05)
Bret Arsenault: (25:06)
All right. What's a book you're currently reading and what's the book you would recommend that people read?
Venki Krishnababu: (25:12)
Oh, wow. The book is about brave leadership by Brené Brown. Uh, it's really, really a good book on leadership. I really dig a lot of, you believe I, the, the number of years your book was this technology book for me, it's like 60/40.
Bret Arsenault: (25:25)
Venki Krishnababu: (25:25)
So, um, and then, um, I'm also on the technology side, it's more of, Bret, you might notice this, uh, this, this third party supply chain software, right. That, I'm reading more on the industry, how that's, it's fast evolving industry and fascinating at the same time, so I'm reading about that. I definitely do recommend the Brené Brown's book of, if you are a really a, a big fan of, uh, leadership and wanting to get, incorporate some big, there's some good leadership lessons also incorporated which we all can learn and apply. And it's very practical.
Bret Arsenault: (25:56)
No, that's great. And I love practical leadership books, right? I think that's, uh, that's probably one of the most important ones for me. That's super helpful. Thank you. I'd just like to think from a priority, you mentioned supply chain, it's obviously a growing risk area in terms of impact, amplitude frequency and time to exploitation. So what I'm wondering from you, you don't have to be on supply chain, but just the three things that people or practitioners on this phone should think about in order to make sure that they can secure their hybrid workforce. And then the one thing they should avoid. So three things they should do. And one thing they should avoid from the perspective of, you as the Senior Vice President of Technology at Lululemon?
Venki Krishnababu: (26:35)
Three things I would say is, I always look in terms of, uh, three compartments of anything I do. One is, starts with people. With people, making sure that around us and education and how they're adapting, I'm taking it, in fact, your question a little bit more into macro level, uh, Bret, about with this hybrid workforce, what are the three things we as leaders need to, you know, watch for and do, right? So working with our people, understanding how they are working with their teams, especially for leaders who are leading other leaders, it's extremely important to get that pulse and then training around us, listening, all those things got to be incorporated from a people's standpoint. And, uh, how do you ensure that that digital fatigue is not getting the best of you? And that's going to be the, the million dollar question every day, every leader, when they wake up, need to answer, and what am I going to do today, to reduce that digital fatigue? So that's on, on people.
Venki Krishnababu: (27:31)
Then on process, right? So if you look at process, there're many process, uh, got naturally evolved and some of them pandemic driven. So we have, uh, launched the safe buildings, you know, when you come in operational capacity matters, where you sit matters, the social etiquette, um, or social distancing matters. And some of them are technology driven, some of them are process driven. So process driven's are, you have to ensure that you're declaring when you're coming in and, uh, setting some setting standards and workforce policies. And that's the, the process aspect of it.
Venki Krishnababu: (28:01)
And how do you gain access is another example you have to go through, especially in being a remote, the computer you're using, the device you using, the [inaudible 00:28:09] kind of exploding in one end, how do you ensure that when you onboard certain things or it's super clear, it's super secured, right? Very well secured. Those are the things from a process standpoint. From a technology standpoint, um, this is, uh, what, what I would say is every day we had to look at what platforms we'd use, what are the things we need to bring in? I gave examples, uh, last time, Bret, that enablement of GEC workforce with Azure VDI is a big unlock.
Bret Arsenault: (28:37)
Venki Krishnababu: (28:37)
There is this balance between empowering and also securing, protecting our employees and, and our workforce. And there are tools which allows you to solve those, right? And then you working on this technology, evolving technology, you know, and, and also meeting with industry experts and learning from them, then incorporating them. So technology is the one fast moving part of this three components. So how do you keep pace with that? So keeping pace with it.
Venki Krishnababu: (29:02)
One thing I would avoid is, this is an ultra marathon. Take pit stops and ensure that you're taking care of yourself too. Don't get, you know fatigue. As I said, don't let fatigue gets the best off you, because once, you, if your health is not good, if you're done, so you can't think, you can't make the right decisions, it's so important, uh, for, for everyone is, and especially for leaders too. Find the way to distress yourself, and, um, either it's running, running for me, yoga for someone, who knows, you know, it depends on each one. So that's what I would avoid, avoid that fatigueness and watch for that stress signals carefully.
Bret Arsenault: (29:40)
Yeah. I totally agree and understand, uh, the different points you're bringing up, but I liked the people, the process, and then the technology piece. And I think this avoidance thing, I think, people have become far more mindful I hope it sustains post uh, any pandemic situations, 'cause I think, uh, like I said, the only thing, you know, you can take into retirement or anything else you ever do is your health. So I think that's a really good way to think about it. Is there anything else you want to add, Venki, that just freeform that you'd like to add or things you'd wanted to portray as a message.
Venki Krishnababu: (30:08)
Yeah. I mean, this is more of an opportunity for, uh, me to share. We here at Lululemon uh, we are, I would say is in a, in a great, uh, spot of innovating. We are a vertical product brand and we are, um, OMNi-channel and, uh, multinational, global company and technology is kind of in the s-, core and center of enabling, and we are doing some innovative work and, uh, innovative work in terms of, uh, new technologies, new platforms, either it's RFID or it's blockchain or it's data mesh, uh, in, um, Azure data analytics, Azure data breaks or, I mean, we have doing some, several technologies and building some great stuff and, and doing some wonderful work in, uh, in the cloud. So we are hiring. So would love for folks to, you know, look at us more of an innovative technology as, company as well in addition to being a vertical brand.
Bret Arsenault: (31:02)
That's a great way to close it out, because I think it's, uh, one of the things is for people to get to know their company and I think people could think of you as a retailer or an apparel company when the reality is you're so much more in the terms of you're digitally, uh, transformed, you're doing even hardware work and the way you think of the creative value of how you pull together data, customer experience and all the other work, it's, it's a testament to a great, a great business and how every company today is both, uh, technology company and more.
Venki Krishnababu: (31:28)
Yeah. Thank you, Bret.
Bret Arsenault: (31:30)
Thanks so much.
Natalia Godyla: (31:35)
Well, we had a great time unlocking insights into security from research to artificial intelligence. Keep an eye out for our next episode.
Nic Fillingham: (31:42)
And don't forget to tweet us @msftsecurity or email us at email@example.com with topics you'd like to hear on a future episode. Until then, stay safe.
Natalia Godyla: (31:53)