It's rare that you get the opportunity to hear a great feel-good story, especially when it comes to people moving up into another person's role at a company. But that is definitely what the story behind the relationship between HPE's Tom Moylan and Jeff Skinner is. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Tom, Director of Sales for HPE NonStop Americas, and his successor, Jeff Skinner, about Tom’s upcoming retirement, their unique relationship, and plans for the future of NonStop.
When you take a mentor, you hope to learn from them some industry tips and make new connections to hopefully further your career. Rarely do you ever anticipate that one day you will, literally, have to fill the role of your mentor. But that is exactly what happened to Jeff Skinner. Jeff recently had stepped in to fill Tom's role at HPE as Tom prepares to retire this year.
Their relationship began when Jeff was only a few years out of college. "At the time it was an experiment on my behalf, back in the early Tandem days," says Tom. "There was this idea of hiring a lot of younger people. The idea was, even though we really lacked an education program, to try to mentor these young people and open new markets for Tandem. That's when I first met, and subsequently hired, Jeff."
After getting his foot in the door with Tandem in the early 90s, Jeff did what many people in the NonStop space do; he moved around to other companies. After Compaq acquired Tandem, he moved on to one of Jimmy Treybig's startup companies, but he always ended up right back where he started, it seemed.
"After I worked at the startup, I came back to NonStop after HPE acquired Compaq, so I came back to work for Tom a second time. I was there for three more years, then left again and went to IBM for five years, where I was focused on financial services," recalls Jeff. " Then for the third and final time, I came back to work for Tom again in 2010/2011. So it’s my third tour of duty here, and it’s been a long, winding road to get to this point. Tom, without question, has been the most influential person on my career and as a mentor. It's rare that you can even have a mentor for that long, and then have the chance to be able to follow in their footsteps and have them on board as an advisor for six months while you take over their job. I don't know that I have ever heard that happening."
As any great mentor, Tom has always been happy to see Jeff grow and learn at other companies. "Every time Jeff left, he gained a skill," adds Tom. "The biggest was when he left to go to IBM and lead the software marketing group there. He came back with all kinds of wonderful ideas for marketing that we utilize to this day."
"If you were to ask me five years ago where I would envision myself or what would I want to be doing, I'm doing it. It's a little bit surreal sometimes, but at the same time it’s an honor," says Jeff. Tom feels as positive about Jeff stepping up to the plate. "Jeff is such a natural to lead NonStop," gushes Tom. "We are at a very critical and exciting time with NonStop X, where marketing this is going to be absolutely the highest priority. He's the right guy to be able to take HPE NonStop to another level."
Even though Tom doesn't "officially" retire until the end of May, Jeff has already stepped up to fill the role while Tom transitions out by working on special projects. You may have also seen him on what is being dubbed "Tom's Farewell Tour" at many of the User Group meetings this spring.
Tom has always been a powerful force in the NonStop community, and we will certainly be sad to see him go, but he is confident that the company is headed in the right direction under Jeff's leadership. Since he has been so involved with Jeff's career so far, it's easy to understand why this was not only a move in the right direction, but an extremely welcomed and well-derserved one for both parties.
You can read our full interview with Tom and Jeff to learn more about their interesting relationship and where Jeff hopes to take HPE in the future in the the January/February issue of The Connection.