Innovation Leadership: Insights from an Engineering Leader


Alan Hase, V.P. of Engineering shares his thoughts on innovation and how it is done at Cisco.

"Innovation is not just about great ideas, it's combining great ideas with great execution." 
- Alan Hase, V.P. Engineering, Cisco.

Alan Hase will tell you innovation can come from anywhere.  Alan is Vice President of Engineering at Cisco and the man responsible for making sure that engineers know innovation is fostered and valued at Cisco.  The Network sat down with Alan to talk about what engineers want when it comes to innovation and why innovation is vital to business success.

The Network: How does Cisco nurture innovation?
Alan Hase:
We nurture innovation by our insatiable desire to lead by building great products that make our customers happy. I really believe Cisco's culture of caring for our customers  fosters an environment where everyone is focused on the customer and doing what's right for them.

TN: What is it that engineers want when it comes to innovation?
AH: Engineers are very proud of the work that they are doing.  They strive to create things that are compelling.  Cisco has worked hard to create an environment where engineering innovation thrives, and engineers are encouraged and rewarded for sharing their work and ideas and learning from each other.   We've learned from Demo Expo, as well as Cisco's other internal events and community activities, that our engineers enjoy opportunities to come together and collaborate, discuss and even debate their work – all of which speeds the innovation process and helps Cisco create great products and services.  (See Demo Expo 2011 Slide Show on this page.)

TN: How do you define innovation? (View the full answer in the video on this page.)
AH: It's really about solving customer problems, creating compelling capabilities and delivering a sustainable competitive advantage.

TN: What's your advice to organizations focused on innovation?
AH: Strive to be the best at everything you do. Whether its being the best at building the product, the best at delivering the product or having the best product in the market. The focus should be on delivering better than anyone else in the world can deliver.  When businesses do this they are viewed as innovative and have long -term success as a result.

More About Alan Hase:

Alan Hase is Vice President of Engineering leading Cisco's Engineering Center of Excellence. Alan's primary responsibilities are to drive Innovation, Business Model, Talent and Quality initiatives across Cisco's Engineering organization. Alan has been in the technology industry for over 20 years and is a 15  year Cisco veteran.

Alan joined Cisco in 1996 to lead the Cisco 7500 High-End Router software engineering team. During this time Alan's team developed and delivered key innovations in the area of distributed processing and services acceleration that enabled Cisco to extend its leadership position in high- end routing. After 4+ years in high-end routing, Alan took a leadership role to drive Cisco's IPSEC VPN products and strategy.

In a collaborative effort with Cisco's router teams, Cisco changed the IPSEC marketplace from a point product security technology to an embedded routing and networking technology. During his tenure with the Security Technologies Group, Alan led the diligence, acquisition and integration of Allegro, Psionic and Vihana.            

In 2006, Alan became the Vice President of Engineering for the Wireless Networking Business Unit. Alan led a global engineering team to design, develop and deliver innovative, industry leading, award winning products and technologies such as Cisco's 1140 and 3500 Series 802.11n Access Points, Clean Air, Client Link, Video Stream, Cisco's 4400 and 5500 Wireless LAN Controllers and WCS. Alan also led the diligence and integration of multiple successful acquisitions at Cisco.

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About Karen Crocker Snell @kcsnell

Karen Crocker Snell is an award winning content producer and The Network's Digital Content Lead.