Justin Calvo is the Global Director of Digital Marketing at Avanade, a global Microsoft technology integrator. He is a 2002 alumnus of the Foster School and the Certificate of International Business Studies (CISB) program, and is a member of the Global Business Center’s CIBER advisory board.
Tell us about Avanade. How did you get your start?
Avanade is a global Microsoft technology integrator. Standing on the shoulders of our parent companies, Microsoft and Accenture, Avanade delivers insight, expertise and innovation across all industries to realize business results. After spending two years at a Seattle venture capital fund, the opportunity to work for a young company with incredible vision and backing was an entrepreneur’s dream. One of the things that attracted me to Avanade was the idea that the company was truly global on the day it opened its doors for business a few years earlier. Being global has always been an important part of the culture at Avanade.
I’ve had many roles in my 10 years with the company – responsibilities for delivering projects, managing global customers, directing an industry team and currently incubating Avanade’s Digital Marketing business focusing on helping marketers drive business value by improving the customer experience.
What is it like to manage a global team? What are some challenges you’ve faced, and insights you’ve gained?
Managing and being part of a globally connected team is one of my favorite parts of working for Avanade. The opportunity to work across a diversity of customer business problems with dynamic global teams and leading innovations is a large part of what drives me each day.
One critical lesson I learned early on at Avanade was that global means much more than simply working across continents. It’s about having the scale and depth of insight and expertise to address complex, multi-faceted business situations. This past winter I had the opportunity to travel to Asia to spend time with some of our customers’ marketing leaders. Perhaps no one inside a business understands how to support global needs like marketers, who increasingly require greater scale and insights to reach dynamic consumers and markets. Meeting these diverse needs and doing it at the speed of today’s consumer requires a global approach. The Chinese and German marketplaces are two extreme examples where global skills are necessary to navigate a complex ecosystem country-specific marketing channels as in China’s case, or to ensure ongoing compliance with Germany’s strict consumer privacy laws.
How did your time at the Foster School influence your interests and career?
The Foster School of Business and the CISB program gave me a strong foundation and framework to address business challenges in a global context. Learning about how the global economy operates was essential to understanding my role in it and planning out my career. Spending time studying and working abroad reinforced my passion for global interactions. One of the most rewarding surprises I hadn’t fully considered or appreciated during my time at UW were the connections I built with classmates and teachers. My classmates have gone on to drive incredible impact in global business. Staying connected with many of them has allowed me to see the global economy and my career path from various angles.
What is one thing that you would tell students about the world of global business?
In 2000, when Avanade was established as a global business and I was still preparing to join the workforce, most new companies viewed being global as a destination. This has changed. Today every business must act globally. The emerging start-up must consider the scale at which their innovation will address problems and the Fortune 100 enterprise must take stock of whether they have the agility they require to keep pace with the dynamic markets they serve.
As long as companies remain transfixed on growth – global will be a requirement. Use this time in the Foster School of Business to gain valuable knowledge about the underpinnings of the global economy, and also to consider the tools and connections you will require to address the complex, multifaceted challenges that lead to tomorrow’s global opportunities.