Former Citrix CEO Encourages UVA Darden Students to Think, Act Globally

By Dave Hendrick


When Mark Templeton (MBA ’78) joined Citrix as vice president of marketing in 1995, the company focused on a single product in a single sector in the domestic market. When he retired as president and CEO roughly 20 years later, Citrix was a global powerhouse with operations in 100 countries, more than 100 million users and revenues in excess of $3 billion a year.

While there were a number of factors in that explosive growth, Templeton credits a singular focus on a customer issue — allowing business data and applications to be delivered securely on-demand — along with respect and empathy for both human capital and local cultures, for the technology company’s prolonged success.

Keynoting the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Global Conference, Templeton said executing on that single, big idea meant the company was able to go into virtually any market with a clarity of purpose and easily explained value proposition and win business. Win business, it did.

When he first arrived at Citrix, it was lulled into the complacency of serving only domestic customers, thinking “there’s a big enough internal market where we don’t have to pay attention to other markets.”

Home markets have a tendency to look “so attractive, nearby and familiar,” Templeton said.

But after dipping its feet into more familiar international markets in Europe and Australia in 1996, the company continued to ramp up its global business, and now draws more than half of its revenue from global markets.

While the company’s technology products worked, and worked well, Templeton said Citrix attempted to foster growth by forging an employee culture focused on integrity, conviction, respect, humility and a notion of empathy that was “all about wanting to serve someone else.”

These ideas bound the company’s employees together, led to superior customer service, created shareholder value — and, “more importantly,” said Templeton, “pride.”

Like other speakers at the conference, Templeton encouraged Darden students to better understand global business by actually going out and seeing, experiencing and working in the wider world.

“Form your own point of view about the world and how it’s operating in a way that makes sense to you, and makes so much sense you’re willing to bet on it,” Templeton said.

The former Citrix CEO said Americans, particularly those with limited international exposure, are often hamstrung by their own sense of “American exceptionalism,” or the sense that “we got it right, they got it wrong and they should adopt our way of doing things.”

Rather, Templeton said, understanding and respecting local geography and history can help hone an effective business plan or offering, allowing a company to “parse what can be the same versus what needs to be different.”

Said Templeton: “Dive in and be curious about the culture and what the fabric of a country is before you try to do business there. Your interest in their country is invaluable.”

Producing Global Citizens

The Global Conference, which included a keynote from market research firm Ipsos Peru CEO Alfredo Torres and panels featuring Darden alumni and professors on global investments and the world economic outlook, kicked off with a welcome from Dean Scott Beardsley, who has made increased global impact a continued priority for the School.

Beardsley, who came to Darden following an international career based in Brussels, Belgium, cited a number of global trends that were making business more complex and necessitating a global outlook for MBA students.

Issues such as the rise of emerging markets, increased urbanization and accelerating change in technology, among other “megatrends,” are creating both huge complications and opportunities for the globally minded businessperson, Beardsley said, making clear that Darden was and would be a School that prepared students for a globalized business world.

Indeed, the dean noted recent global opportunities in 43 locations in 24 countries, and said students were increasingly encouraged to create their own global consulting opportunities.

“We have the platform, and now we’re trying to turbocharge the opportunities,” Beardsley said. “You’ll be much more ready as manager and future business leader if you go out there and see the world.”

The dean also noted other recent global enhancements to Darden and its curriculum, including the hiring of four new faculty born outside of the U.S., a new executive MBA option based in Washington, D.C., and Darden’s trailblazing role in UVA’s massive online open courses that have engaged more than a million people across the world.

The Outlook for China

As the conference’s programming turned to global investing and the economic outlook, talk of China took center stage, as that country’s slowing economic growth and erratic stock market are often cited for much of the global financial tumult in 2016.

Jerry Peng (MBA ’03), the chairman and CEO of Tranlin Inc., said he remained “long-term bullish and short-term cautiously positive” on China, calling a recent slowdown in the country “substantial,” but noting both its continued economic expansion and enormous opportunity for the development of modern investment options.

Despite the slowdown, Peng reminded the audience that China’s gross domestic product still managed to grow at above 6.5 percent in 2015, and remains a place of enormous entrepreneurial energy.

Nicholas Lardy, an economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, also suggested that the finger pointing at China may be unwarranted, noting the “fairly thin” links between China’s troubles in its equity markets and world economies.

“I think China has been over blamed for lots of developments in the global economy,” said Lardy. “The causal linkages are not always completely clear.”

Lardy noted that while China’s contribution to global growth would continue to decline, its own economy was making a successful shift to the service sector.

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About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business delivers the world’s best business education experience to prepare entrepreneurial, global and responsible leaders through its MBA, Ph.D., MSBA and Executive Education programs. Darden’s top-ranked faculty is renowned for teaching excellence and advances practical business knowledge through research. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

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