CEO advisory councils are sometimes an afterthought for a company’s strategic leadership, but in my experience they can be quite advantageous, depending on their composition, objectives and level of involvement. These councils are typically made up of experienced executives, so they can provide thoughtful perspectives and an invaluable sounding board—if they’re working with a CEO who’s truly willing to listen.
Based on my knowledge of Cohesity and its CEO, Sanjay Poonen, I expect the company’s newly announced CEO Advisory Council to provide real guidance for a company that’s going places. Cohesity specializes in AI-powered data security and management, offering features such as immutable backup snapshots and AI-driven threat detection. More than that, it’s been delivering for years on its promise of data resilience, cyber resilience and business resilience for a diverse customer base that includes tech giants Salesforce and Broadcom alongside other household names such as Delta Airlines, Nasdaq and Nationwide Insurance.
Cohesity CEO Advisory Council
Cohesity’s new council includes industry leaders who will be able to provide fresh perspectives on everything from product launches to corporate expansion plans. The company should also benefit from the advisors’ extensive professional networks, which can facilitate potential partnerships, customer relationships, investor opportunities or even key hires. Council members include:
- Indra Nooyi: Ex-CEO of PepsiCo, now on the boards of Amazon, Philips and the International Cricket Council and recognized on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women List.
- Jim Snabe: Chairman at Siemens and Northvolt, board member at C3.ai, ex-Co-CEO of SAP and trustee of the World Economic Forum.
- Ken Denman: Partner at Sway Ventures, board director at Costco, VMware and Motorola Solutions and ex-CEO of iPass, Openwave and Emotient.
- Tami Erwin: Ex-CEO of Verizon Business, current board member at John Deere and York Space Systems and named on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women List.
This is an outstanding group that will offer diverse insights to Poonen and other Cohesity executives. I recently spoke with Erwin, whose expertise in strategy, product development and customer experience will be highly beneficial. She emphasized the importance of Cohesity’s strategy to secure and manage enterprise data while assisting in unlocking value through the responsible use of AI.
Based on my conversation with her, Erwin’s dedication to helping Cohesity in its mission to conduct business faster and more effectively is evident. She also believes that the formation of the council and the strengths of its members reflect positively on Poonen, highlighting his intent to empower his team and keep the company innovating. Erwin said, “I’m excited to collaborate with Poonen and his team to bolster enterprise data security.” The council’s initial focus is on understanding the needs of Cohesity and its clients. The company is working to best serve its customers across various industries by managing and protecting data while helping them gain insights from that data—regardless of its location—through AI.
CEO advisory councils offer valuable insights for businesses, but there can be pitfalls to watch out for. It’s crucial to select members who have relevant expertise and then provide them with adequate information about the industry and the goals the company wants to achieve. Regular meetings will ensure that members stay informed and engaged. It’s also important for council members to be receptive to questions and feedback, and likewise for the CEO to demonstrate that their input is valued. If this new council is leveraged properly, it can be a real benefit to Cohesity.
I admire the individual members of this council, and it will be interesting to observe how the council shapes Cohesity’s growth trajectory and influences Poonen’s vision. Cohesity already has a Security Advisory Council that helps guide its thinking in the cybersecurity industry. Poonen’s decision to create an advisory council—which is not very common in the data security management area—showcases his humility and the understanding that no leader is beyond learning something new.