Arista with Jayshree Ullal

blog.2016-01-05 20.00.47While sitting in row F7 on Flight 651 to San Francisco International Airport, I had a chance to read My Fight/Your Fight, Ronda Rousey’s autobiography. Approximately two hours and 300 pages later, I understood the many internal and external struggles of the professional fighter. Oddly, by the end of an exciting day 3 of the trip, I was comparing Arista Network’s own CEO/President, Jayshree Ullal, to a fearless fighter in the proverbial octagon of the world that is Silicon Valley.

Born in London, England and raised in New Delhi, India, Ullal was able to offer the VinV group a holistic view of what it meant to “make it happen” in Silicon Valley. She attended San Francisco State University (electrical engineering), then Santa Clara University (engineering management). Prior to her start at Arista, Ullal was the Director of Internetworking Products at Ungermann-Bass for four years before joining Crescendo Communications. At Crescendo, Ullal became the VP of Marketing, working with the first CDDI products and first generation Ethernet switching. She was eventually named Senior VP of Data Center and Switching, reporting to John Chambers. Ullal’s responsibilities included the direction of the modular switching and application services which saw about $15 billion of direct and indirect revenue. In 2008, Ullal was named CEO/President of Arista. Only a short time thereafter, in 2014, she led Arista to an IPO on NYSE. Moreover, Ullal has repeatedly won awards for being a disrupter and top engineer in the Silicon Valley community- the most recent being EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2015. After just a short introduction, the group wanted to hear more of her fight.

If you’re too defensive, you make the wrong decisions. Avoid having an ego. Take a risk. Chase impact. Evolve. Her words were inspirational to each student as we eagerly listened for her next insight. Understanding that VinV students have severely different backgrounds, Ullal was able to connect past experiences to future trends and real-world issues for each concentration. She was able to divvy out real-time advice to students who had interests, ideas, and professional idiosyncrasies.

In addition to being a leader in the rapidly ascending networking industry, Ullal shared that she cares greatly about giving back and opening pathways to technology in communities around the world. The students realized that the proverbial fight didn’t end with the networking industry in the 50 square miles of Silicon Valley, but that the fight ended when all channels were open to those who want to access technology now and in the future. We walked away understanding this fight is our fight.

We thank her for her time with us, as it was an incredible experience that left many students with a hunger—a relentless ambition—to never stop learning and to never stop disrupting.

To visit Arista Network’s site click here.