In this blog post
Introducing Blake Brannon, Chief Strategy Officer, OneTrust
- Tell us something about your childhood. What values have been instilled in you that helped you excel later in your life?
I grew up on a farm in a very rural part of the country. As a result, I learned from an early age that you stop working when the work is done, which is never the case. This not only helped me develop a strong work ethic, but more importantly it instilled in me the tenacity to never quit. I realized if you fail, you just have to step back, think about the situation you’re in, and try again.
- What have been some of the biggest challenges in your life and how that has shaped you?
The first major challenge I faced in life was deciding to attend college at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). While this might sound trivial, at the time I made the decision it was a massive endeavor. I grew up in a town where most of the residents farmed, and everyone who grew up and went to college almost always moved back home. Diversity was absent and there were more students at Georgia Tech than people who lived in the entire county I was from. This was a hurdle and culture shock for me, especially during my first semester of college. I remember some of my first few professors saying, “we are not covering this topic because you all should know it from high school math,” while I sat there thinking, “not where I came from.” That said, this didn’t stop me from figuring it out. I ended up with a 4.0 GPA out of Georgia Tech and the experience taught me that it doesn’t matter where you start and you can’t control your starting point, but you can control where you end up.
The second major challenge I faced in life was working at and building up AirWatch, the enterprise mobility management software. My role at AirWatch was one of the hardest things physically and mentally given that record pace and scale we were operating at. This time at AirWatch taught me so much in such a short amount of time, specifically how to hyperscale a company and how fun the experience can be. Lastly, it taught me about the importance of software in the world and how impactful it can be to transform our world.
- How would you define success?
To me success is all about impact. The older I get the more I relate impact to not just building cool technology or software to make organizations more efficient, but how are we progressing humanity and improving life for future generations.
- How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I continue to grow and develop as a leader because I recognize the importance of improving in communication, experience, and empathy. My work and leadership style fosters a culture of communication and favors teamwork overall. I encourage employees to not just do their best work but realize their true potential, regardless of titles or years of experience, which creates an environment where employees are empathetic and look at each other as equals and push each other to achieve more. In the spirit of collaboration, I also try to be hands on and tactical, driven to help my teams in any way possible.
- Looking back on your journey and knowing what you know now, what is the one piece of advice you would have given yourself along the way?
Looking back, I would say “Think bigger, take bigger bets, and fail faster.” Especially when you are young – you have time to reap the benefits of your failures.