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Why I Chose Okta: Expanding Our Horizons in Asia Pacific

Graham Sowden
General Manager, Asia Pacific

It’s been four months since I started my role as General Manager (GM) of Asia Pacific for Okta, and I’ve finally settled in. Speaking from experience, I know I have my work cut out for me: there’s been no low-hanging fruit to tackle first and foremost, no obvious fix to tweak or revamp. At Okta, I’ve joined a team that has already tackled the most pressing and obvious issues, meaning I get to launch right into the challenge of accelerating our growth in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region.

Taking organizations through multiple stages of growth and helping them open up new geographies is hard work, but it comes with the satisfaction of working alongside teams energized by the fights, the stress, the wins, and the thrills of making great things happen at an incredible pace.

Most recently, as GM of Asia Pacific at Acquia, a leading cloud platform for optimizing digital experiences, I got to experience the highs and lows that come with moving a company into new territory as we expanded Acquia into Japan. In just over two years, we doubled the contribution of bookings from the APAC region from 5% to 11%. Similarly, during my time at Mercury Interactive Australia, I helped the team identify huge potential in the APAC region, allowing us to grow revenues eight-fold in seven years. While these numbers may be impressive, the most valuable lesson I learned at these companies was that the APAC region presents a wealth of opportunity for scaling tech companies.

To spur this kind of success, you have to spot how to help teams make the most of their talent and resources, and motivate them to focus on winning larger revenue. It is this desire to take teams to new heights, and hit new growth milestones, that makes me excited to find similar success for Okta.

While I had other offers on the table after Acquia, it became clear to me that Okta was the obvious fit. The identity and access management market is in a period of exciting growth; to get the opportunity to work for a rapidly scaling company at the forefront of it all was too tempting to pass up. It might not be for everyone, but I find it so much easier to drive a team when the company's really growing fast. The energy here is palpable; the team here is already motivated.

The Asia Pacific region is unlike the US, the EU, or anywhere else in the world. It’s characterized by populous countries with large companies, multifaceted and price-sensitive markets, and a desperate need for cloud solutions. In several APAC nations, entire industries are modernizing their IT infrastructure and investing in cloud apps to streamline workflows. For tech companies, this presents an opportunity like no other.

Japan is one country where tech companies cannot afford to miss the boat, and for us at Okta, it’s a great place to start. Japan’s cloud market is predicted to grow by almost 23% annually until 2022. Such a clear appetite for cloud services should translate into a huge demand for identity and access management software. Identity solutions are no longer “nice-to-haves”, and the business leaders of today know that priority #1 must be protecting their customers’ identities and data. As more companies in the region move to the cloud, Okta is incredibly well-positioned to provide the identity layer that will make their digital initiatives possible.

In fact, we’ve already made huge headway in Japan with Hitachi’s announcement that they will be working with us as their identity partner going forward. For such a prominent firm to publicly join forces with an outsider is unusual—and it’s a massive opportunity for us.

My goal is to keep building greater momentum in these markets, and to help our APAC team bring identity and access management solutions to companies in the region. This is a bold new step in Okta’s journey to global growth, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

 
Graham Sowden
General Manager, Asia Pacific
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