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We understand, listen to and watch our clients: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO

Antonio Neri, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise
Antonio Neri, president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise


  • ‘We believe India has the potential to become a hub for large-scale manufacturing, and our next phase aligns with the Indian government’s policies’

New Delhi: Antonio Neri became the president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)—a $29 billion global technology company—in 2018. Since then, he has led HPE’s efforts to acquire more than 25 companies worldwide. 

Neri believes that India is a strong market for growth and innovation and plans to continue investing in the country. In an interview with TechCircle, the Argentinian-Italian executive discusses HPE’s cutting-edge technology innovations in artificial intelligence (AI), data, and hybrid cloud, the importance of culture and employee engagement, what drives his energy as a CEO, the technology landscape in India, and his plans for the Indian market. Edited excerpts:

How do you think tech spending will evolve in the coming years?

Currently, the global economy is going through some uncertainty and readjustments. However, India has been at the forefront of digital transformation and is probably the fastest-growing economy in terms of gross domestic product (GDP). IT spending tends to follow GDP curves, so I believe that IT will grow faster than GDP in the next 3-5 years. Areas like artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and data will continue to be strong. We are living in an era where data is exploding, and it needs to be stored, understood, and leveraged for value. As data grows, the need for IT and technology also increases. Therefore, I am optimistic about technology spending in the long run.

What excites you the most about India? Is it India as a market for HPE or India as a skill base for HPE globally?

HPE India has the highest number of employees outside the US, accounting for more than 25% of the total company headcount. India is a large and growing economy, and we are excited about the government’s efforts to modernize infrastructure. With everything being digitized, technology will continue to play a significant role.

We recently opened a new campus in Bengaluru, which will host almost 11,000 people. The R&D team in India is responsible for product development across the HPE portfolio. Over the past three years, we have received 1,873 US patents, with 366 patents filed by the R&D team in India.

In 2019, HPE announced a $500 million investment plan for India over five years. As we approach the end of that period, how do you evaluate the execution and results of that investment?

The investments we made in India focused on growing our presence in R&D and services. We have significantly expanded our team in India over the past few years. In the next phase, we plan to invest in manufacturing. We intend to produce high-volume servers worth $1 billion in the first five years at a manufacturing site in Manesar, Haryana. This manufacturing operation will support the growing demand from customers in India and strengthen HPE’s global supply chain. We are also considering investments in networking and computing.

We believe India has the potential to become a hub for large-scale manufacturing, and our next phase aligns with the Indian government’s policies.

What sets HPE apart from its competitors? In which areas do you think HPE needs improvement based on competitor benchmarking?

HPE has the most extensive portfolio in the market, ranging from intelligent Edge solutions and IoT to computer storage, hybrid cloud solutions, AI, and supercomputing. We have created significant differentiation at the technology level.

Additionally, our culture, which revolves around being customer-centric and people-centric, sets us apart. We prioritize listening, understanding, and watching our customers to deliver the best solutions.

You once served on the board of Indian tech company Mphasis (then part of HP). How do you think the Indian tech scene has changed since then in terms of opportunities?

Since my time on the board of Mphasis in 2012, India has undergone significant changes. It has transformed from being seen as a labor market for low-cost back-office activities to becoming one of the largest technology hubs globally. India is well-positioned to cater to skill-intensive and digitized services, which is why global corporations like us leverage Indian technology talent for innovative work. Much of our work, including storage, compute lifecycle management, Aruba’s mobility and IoT solutions, and the GreenLake platform, is done in India. However, there are still challenges with infrastructure, transportation, and quality of life that need to be addressed. Despite these challenges, India remains one of the most important markets for cutting-edge innovation.

HPE recently acquired OpsRamp, which has an India connection. Is HPE actively looking for similar acquisitions in India in the future?

We acquired Hyderabad-based OpsRamp in March to enhance our hybrid cloud capabilities and expand HPE GreenLake. We were attracted to OpsRamp’s modern cloud architecture and their ability to provide end-to-end visibility, observability, and control across hybrid and multi-cloud IT environments. We are always open to meaningful acquisitions that align with our strategy and add value to our portfolio. In the past few years, we have made 25 acquisitions, and if a company has the right appeal, talent, and fair price, we would consider it.

Where do you find the energy to be a CEO?

Throughout my career, I have learned that people and relationships are crucial. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. If you have smart, passionate, and driven individuals on your team, it makes a difference. Despite my role as CEO, I still try to solve engineering problems and maintain a humble attitude. I have been with this company for almost three decades, and I continue to learn from people, books, and everything around me. Learning and focusing on execution are essential. The day I stop learning is the day I have no more value to add. Finding the right balance is also crucial. I play football with my Argentinian friends every Sunday and engage in various exercises to keep my mind sharp and focussed. These activities give me the energy to support our 60,000 employees, customers, and partners.

You have always emphasized the importance of HPE’s culture and its role in the company. How do you define and measure culture, and how do you enhance employee engagement?

At HPE, our culture is defined by our purpose - to advance the way people live and work. In the past couple of years, we have undergone significant changes as we transitioned from being solely an infrastructure company to a hybrid cloud, edge, and AI company. While infrastructure still plays a crucial role, we now offer a complete “experience" and strive to be a force for good. We consider the ethical, compliance, and inclusion implications of cutting-edge technologies and aim to reduce our carbon footprint. While generating profits for shareholders is important, we also aim to make a positive impact on the societies where we operate. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we converted all our sites in India into hospitals, provided beds, and vaccinated over 8 million people. We also facilitated e-clinics for regular tests and other healthcare services. Artificial intelligence will further enhance these efforts, but we must ensure inclusivity is a priority.

We measure culture in various ways, with diversity and inclusion being a crucial aspect. We incentivize employees based on specific goals rather than quotas. We track the advancement of women within the company, their representation in executive roles, and their involvement in key technology positions. We have made significant progress in recent years, with women now accounting for more than 33-34% of leadership positions. We also value diversity in terms of ethnicity and culture. Our multinational and multicultural organization makes us stronger, as diverse companies with different cultures tend to perform better.

The writer was in Barcelona to attend HPE Discover 2023 hosted by Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

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