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PacketFabric's Anna Claiborne and Dave Ward: Building Strong Networks with Guts and Vision

Your business is only as strong as your network. PacketFabric's corporate slogan reflects the knowledge that every organization is painfully familiar with network failures, which can lead to delays in execution, disruptions in the user experience, and more. Co-Founder, CTO, and CPO Anna Claiborne and CEO Dave Ward are delivering a cloud-based networking platform that makes sure companies never have to get held back by a network again. 

This brilliant duo are not just deep technologists, but phenomenal and dynamic leaders. On this episode of Inspired Execution, we talk about the importance of sharing a vision, how disruptive companies can create new users, and two mistakes to avoid when building your team culture. 

Sharing a vision

Anna co-founded PacketFabric in 2015 with the vision to deliver a better network. Dave joined as CEO just over two years ago. I was curious to hear why Dave moved from Cisco to PacketFabric and how Anna knew he was the right person for the job. What inspired Dave about the company was its completely fresh take on software-defined networking (if you’re wondering what SDN is, watch this helpful explainer video). 

And as for why Anna chose Dave as CEO? It’s simple. He believed in PacketFabric’s vision. Finding leaders and team members who deeply understand and believe in your vision is often the biggest challenge for new companies. But it was easy for Anna to see Dave’s alignment.

“He had already tried to do this at Cisco, and failed. That's how you know somebody really gets what you're trying to do. If they've been there, done that. If they’ve already tried it and know how it goes wrong,” Anna said.

Trusting your own voice

Prior to joining PacketFabric, Dave drove Cisco’s Core Innovation Program. This position ingrained in him the idea that customers always come first. On the innovation side, he gained a deep background in technology, sales, and running large teams and projects. 

As someone who started her first company at 23 years old, Anna said the biggest mistake she made early in her career was not trusting her own voice and intuition. Over time, her confidence and conviction have become her biggest strengths. Anna’s advice to all young professionals is to listen to your gut. If you have a strong feeling that something is right (or wrong), you have to trust that and advocate for it. Dave shared a similar learning.

“There is absolutely no lock on good design patterns. Just because somebody is older does not mean that they have the right answers. They just have different experiences to get to an answer,” he said.

Tune in today!

Check out this week’s episode to learn how love plays a role in leadership, why college degrees alone don’t determine a candidate’s value, and so much more.

Next week, we have Elizabeth Hunter on the podcast for a conversation about leading inclusive teams, embracing the twists and turns in your career, and overcoming fear to reach your potential.

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