Somehow, it’s June? We’re halfway through 2022, which calls for a quick recap. We’re fresh off the ServiceNow Knowledge conferences in both New York and Las Vegas and about 3 months into the San Diego release – whew. We’re moving fast, which has us thinking about all we’ve accomplished this year. And there’s no better way to acknowledge our success than highlighting one of our A-team superstars in my personal favorite blog series, the Acorio Spotlight.
This month, we sat down with Acorio’s Associate Director of Presales and Program Architect, Joshua Young. Joshua joined Acorio in 2020, but he’s no stranger to ServiceNow.
The Elevator Pitch: Joshua in 30 Seconds
A resourceful and engaging senior leader of over 15 years, Joshua Young is highly skilled in providing simplification optimization. He specializes in the leadership of complex implementations with experience across global organizations and up to hundreds of thousands of users at a time.
You got your start working for some large organizations. What led you to Acorio?
Switching over to a small company was something that I actively fought against for a long time in my career. Every five years, I like to sit down and have an extremely self-analytical, self-critical conversation with myself on where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to be — and continually refine that roadmap for personal growth and learning so that I can adapt to how my career changes because nothing ever goes according to plan.
I found myself in these large organizations being able to make massive changes on a large scale, but I was only doing it in one environment – for one organization. I started to realize that you have a greater impact if you go into the consulting space. After joining the consulting space back in 2018 with a smaller organization, I started my own firm predominantly around advisory consulting services, both in the ServiceNow and security operations space, and while I was in the middle of selling my company, I saw an announcement that Acorio had been acquired by NTT DATA and I thought to myself what a unique opportunity for Acorio to take their approach of customer success, but also having fun while doing it, to a large enterprise group or set of customers.
I couldn’t be happier here because everything that everyone has ever said about Acorio is totally true — I’ve absolutely drank the Kool-Aid at this point. It’s a great place full of great people.
Oftentimes, professionals begin their careers in consulting. How do you think it’s impacted your career since you worked backward, in a way?
I think upwards of 90% of the folks in my graduating class who had the same primary majors I had went into consulting. And I found out that they were going into these advisory capacity roles, but they didn’t actually have any, to be fair, real experience and that’s something that I couldn’t really wrap my head around — and why I decided to start in the corporate environment first. I also wanted to understand, ‘Is this going to be something that I like? Or should I go back to law school and figure out some way to help humanity in some other way?’
I ended up really liking it and being able to understand how to navigate the political landscapes that exist within a large corporate environment, but also how to affect change as an individual contributor before becoming an actual leader who’s responsible and accountable for not only a team’s accomplishments but individuals and their goals, wants, and needs — and really help build them up into the people that they wanted to be and make sure that they have the opportunities that they need to move forward and progress in their careers.
Without that experience, I think you miss the human aspect of what we do and the pitfalls or things to watch out for that people would not know about unless they’ve lived through some of these large-scale transformative implementations.
Because I went about it the opposite way, I have both of those angles that help our customers.
You got your degree in Information Sciences & Technology at the beginning of the IT boom, how’d you choose the field?
Luck. It was a brand new school and major at Penn State that was a combination between computer science and business. I happened to have a friend in high school whose father recruited University donations for this particular school that wasn’t even a college at the University yet. When opportunity and preparation meet — that’s where luck is found.
The main reason that I went into Information Sciences and Technology was that our entire curriculum was based on problem-based learning. It was never like mathematics where there’s only one correct answer — it was an extremely creative space in technology, where we needed innovation.
Lifelong learning is so important to me. We never stop learning, it’s not possible — you only get better or worse at things, and you must choose the things that you want to get better at.
Circumstances are different every time we interact with a client, there’s no one answer for every organization. That’s going to continue to be true throughout the rest of our careers and lives. The ability to find joy in lifelong and problem-based learning is an excellent marker for people who would excel in an organization like ours.
You’ve worked with ServiceNow for 15 years. What is it that you love about the platform?
There’s a simple answer to this question. Time and time again throughout my career, I was constantly confronted with the reality that ServiceNow was a federated, relational data model where we could pull in data from other places, make it actionable and consolidate it in a way that allowed us to innovate faster — and it just kept coming back to that every role.
I needed ServiceNow to design improved and measurable processes. I needed ServiceNow to track the performance of my team. There was a point in my career where I got away from ServiceNow and found myself still needing it. That drove my decision to just jump in with both feet.
Aligning to more industry verticals is the way of the future because not everybody operates the same way. There are different KPIs that are important for the aircraft industry versus financial services. The ability to innovate on the same platform differentiates ServiceNow as a strategic platform versus just a tool or a product.
How would you describe your role to someone not in the ServiceNow ecosystem?
I help you understand how to solve problems. More importantly, I tie outcomes to why you’re trying to solve certain problems and prioritize those for what will have the most and longest-lasting impact on your organization outside of you staying in your role.
We partner with clients to help them understand why they have the pain points where they do by leveraging that problem-based learning approach. Not only do we align the right outcomes to larger strategic organized objectives in your organization, but also how we justify the return on investment. We begin focusing less on the current state and more on the future state, avoiding analysis paralysis, so that ultimately these recommendations are put into action through some kind of engagement.
So, the very short version of what I do is: I try to help people solve problems in a measurable way that allows them to impact lasting change in their organizations.
What role do you play as a manager for your team?
I manage a team of folks who have varying backgrounds, but one thing that we all have in common is that we all worked for an organization that was implementing ServiceNow. Most of us were either involved with or leading those implementations before coming into the consulting world, particularly to Acorio.
The best thing for me is when we can all learn from each other. We have one of the highest performing teams Acorio (no shade intended) and it’s an absolute joy to work with everyone on our team. We’re just so diverse coming from different industries, different geographic locations, and different backgrounds, but we all love to creatively solve problems and help deliver value to every organization and customer with whom we engage.
It’s a privilege to work with these folks, I love my team.
What is your favorite part of managing? How has managing changed your outlook on your career?
I do think there’s a distinction between managing and leading. What I try to do is less of the managing aspect and try to focus more on the leadership aspect of making sure people feel empowered to do their best work.
If there’s something impeding their ability to grow, I focus on removing those obstacles or designing a plan so that we can help them improve — also trying to lead by example to say ‘Hey, here’s a new thing that I tried.’
What I’ve learned the most is that it’s not always about you. I know I brag about our team, but our team is only great because Delivery backs up what we tell the customer we’re going to do, and they delight the customer with their interactions. Making sure that my team has what they need so that we can continue that cycle is the most important aspect of my role and the thing from which I get the most joy.
What is your favorite feature or enhancement from the San Diego release?
I’d have to say some of the advancements in not only AIOps but also HLA. ITOM has grown into a behemoth. I think a lot of the buzzwords like machine learning or AI get lost in the incredible innovation that’s happening in that space because when people think about ITOM, they mostly only think about Discovery, Service Mapping, and Event Management.
The coolest things in that area enable becoming less reactive and more proactive — automating things to notify you and potentially resolve issues before you would have even known about them. It is absolutely, by far, my favorite area of the platform.
Anytime we can remove humans from something and make the machines do it for us better, faster — how could we not jump on that?
What has been your favorite ServiceNow release and why?
[Eureka] The release when they finally introduced Event Management. I had to build it custom from scratch for two organizations — one that was 350,000 plus employees, plus another 150,000 contractors, and one for another organization that was 70,000 employees and another 70,000 contractors.
When [Event Management] finally got released, I was quickly picking up the phone to call my ServiceNow rep and inquiring, ‘Hey, I get that for free, right?’
If you could choose the next theme for ServiceNow releases, what would you choose?
It would be fun if it was adjectives describing the benefits of leveraging the strategic platform that is ServiceNow. Each adjective would start with a different letter of the alphabet like we do today. It’d be a struggle to find ones for U and X, but I’m sure they’re out there.
What hobbies do you have outside of work, and how do you feel the skills from those hobbies transfer over to your role here at Acorio?
The first is sailing, the thing that I probably love doing more than anything else, and that’s because it teaches you patience. When people say, ‘Go with the flow,’ — literally, you have to wait for the wind. I think is important for people to disconnect from their screens and sailing helps me disconnect, refresh my brain, and ultimately just be a little bit more even-keeled (yes, that is a sailing joke).
The next is building mechanical keyboards because you get to express some of your creativity. You’re involved in a global community that’s relatively small, people are building custom PCBs, new board housings, designing creative new keycap sets, new switches, and mechanical ways of putting LCDs into these things — it’s like grown-up Legos. It helps me with my work because it builds on creativity and constantly learning something new.
The third is my dogs. They teach me to understand that I am not the most important thing is not only my life but the world. There are entities out there that rely on you, depend on you, and can provide such unconditional joy and love. I think that translates into empathy from a leadership standpoint, and understanding if or when someone is going through a tough time. It’s not all about this deadline to get a deliverable out the door. If something important is going on in someone’s life, you want to be able to support them and make sure that they have what they need. The culture here at Acorio fosters that.