CEO Dialogue, Mark J. Barrenechea – January 2022

As CEO of one of Canada’s largest software companies, Mark J. Barrenechea oversees the strategic direction of the organization and upholds the company’s position at the forefront of the industry. Under his direction, OpenText has grown both organically and through strategic acquisitions, into a $3.4 billion USD technology company. With 15,000 employees in 40 countries, OpenText remains a Canadian company by choice.

To kick off 2022, OG100 welcomed Mark to speak to members about how OpenText is navigating current conditions and challenges such as talent, remote teams, and the extreme pace to digital.

We’re living in unique times: organizations are seeing high attrition and high wage increases, and some organizations are dealing with 10% of staff out due to Omicron. Labour is a major issue, and the concept of location-based pay now has few applications in the global labour pool. Inflation was last reported at 7% in the US, so if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. For those that have managed to keep the lights on, interest rates remain low, so opportunity can still come knocking.

How we manage coming back together is top of mind. We have to accept that the extremes – all employees on-site or all remote – likely won’t work anymore. There are some fairly simple ways to measure productivity, and most of us have figured out how to maintain productivity in a remote environment. However, to build truly creative, new ideas and solutions, we need to figure out how to come together. We now know we can accomplish a lot with teams managing their own flexibility (time and space). While we’ve effectively processed and executed on a backlog of big ideas, we need to meet face-to-face to bolster new creativity and build breakthrough ideas.

Ultimately, how much can you push out onto the cloud? In this “grow or die” economy, everything needs to be ruthlessly automated. The demand to accelerate digital transformation has never been louder. From moving to electronic invoicing to fighting inflation, digital solutions are critical to solve many issues. But you don’t become great by using packaged software. To be great, you need to build on your differentiation. Build your own systems where it’s core to your business, and buy in other areas.

It’s easy to get bogged down by short-term concerns during the pandemic, but you can’t let them consume you. At OpenText we have implemented a dedicated team to manage pandemic disruptions, leaving senior leaders to focus on long-term strategy and lead the growth agenda. From the broadest societal and geopolitical issues down to the level of the individual, we are living through and navigating an immense transformation from our BC to AC world – Before Covid and After Covid. That is why I believe it is time for the Great Rethink. The future of growth is sustainable and inclusive. This is our moment, and we have a unique opportunity to come together and make lasting change.