EECO Asks Why Podcast

174. Hero: Sandy D'Souza - Director Strategic Alliances @ Fiix Software

December 12, 2021 Electrical Equipment Company Season 6
EECO Asks Why Podcast
174. Hero: Sandy D'Souza - Director Strategic Alliances @ Fiix Software
Show Notes Transcript

"Give me a complex problem, let me own it and let me try to solve it."  That sums up our hero Sandy D'Souza and how he is leading the way at Fiix Software.  Sandy's journey starts at his roots in Toronto and he has many lessons learned along the way that is sure to help others in the pursuit of their personal best.  He gives great insight to what change management looks like for those in industry and how the evolution of technology is disrupting the game in a good way.  The trick he shares is that you must have empathy for those using the solutions and work with them to lead the change that will make an organization better.

His advice for others that want to find their passions is to maintain a high level of curiosity in their daily walk.  He also recognizes that at the end of the day business is still all about people interacting with people so keeping focus on that is where true success lies.  As a leader of a revolutionary industrial software solution Sandy does a great job of hearing the challenges that industry faces and he works tirelessly to provide robust solutions.

Sandy gave a peak behind the curtain of what drives him outside of work and it sounds like he is having a blast raising his young son and daughter in Pittsburg.  Whether he is teaching his son Brazilian jujitsu or being outside as a family when he gets to be with the ones that mean the most to him Sandy finds joy.  Sit back and listen to the wisdom and inspiration that Sandy D'Souza shares as our hero!   

Guest: Sandy D'Souza - Director Strategic Alliances at Fiix Software

Host: Chris Grainger
Executive Producer: Adam Sheets
Podcast Editor: Andi Thrower

Fiix Software

Industry War Story Submission: Send us a DM!

00:00 Chris: 

Welcome back to holidays with our heroes here on EECO Asks Why as you know, by now we're getting close to Christmas and these hero episodes have been amazing, hoping you're enjoying, hearing all the inspirational stories and there's a big surprise coming up very soon. And you do not want to miss it the week of Christmas.

Now, this episode, I sat down with Sandy D'Souza and he may remember Sandy back from episode 139, where he talked about CMMS. And he really unpacked a lot in that episode. And what I remember so much about saying he working with him and that episode in this hero conversation was his energy. He was always smiling.

It was just a fun conversation. He loves what he does. He's passionate about it. He's knowledgeable. And you put those two things together with passion meets expertise wonderful things happen. So you're going hear his hero story, and I can't wait for you to just to be inspired by everything saying he brings.

 From the war stories, those stories are coming in to us and they are pretty incredible. You're going to love hearing these war stories and we roll them out and it's not too late. If you got one. Send it in there's links in the show notes, go check that out, hook us up. We really want that. We want to inspire people. We want to entertain people too. So maybe it's a funny story. That's okay. Give it to us. We'd love to showcase it. Now it's time to get some insight and to Sandy D'Souza and his amazing journey. Que the music.

Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation. I'm very excited to have with me. This is Sandy D'Souza, who is the director of channel partnerships at Fiix Software. So welcome Sandy. 

01:56 Sandy: 

Thanks so much, Chris. Really excited to be here. Thanks for having me. 

01:58 Chris: 

I'm very excited to have you, man. How you doing today? You having a good day so far?

02:03 Sandy: 

Good day. You know, it was sunny here this morning in Pittsburgh, a little bit of clouds and thunderstorms rolling through, but Hey, hard to complain. It's June, right? It's a summertime. 

02:11 Chris: 

There you go out. And I was going to ask you where you were, so you're in Pittsburgh. That's where you're located.

02:16 Sandy: 

Okay. Expert in Pennsylvania. Yeah. Great city. 

02:18 Chris: 

Nice. Nice. Yeah, I've been there before. It's a wonderful city. I went to some downtown area there in Pittsburgh where the Pirates play and got to walk through that district. It's just a really cool vibes in that city, man. 

02:30 Sandy: 

Yeah, it's nice. You know, underrated, you got the rivers, you've got some trees, you got some Hills you know, kind of, all the good stuff in life, at least as far as I'm concerned for sure. 

02:38 Chris:

Sure. Well, excited to have you here, Sandy, maybe get us started, but give us a little bit about your journey to where you're at right now?

02:47 Sandy: 

You know, a great question. Right. So, little known fact born and raised in Toronto Canada. Went to a university at Wilfrid Laurier University. Did a business degree out there. Spent the bulk of my career at least thus far at Blackberry. So spent about 10 years. Interesting time. I was there for the kind of the meteoric rise of the organization to, getting a little bit of disruption, certainly from other players in the category over, over time, but what a journey, right? Like you just learn so much about business and about strategy and about technology and channels and you know, great ride. Wouldn't change it for anything. Fast forward. 2017 joined Fiix Software you know, small software startup out of out of Toronto. I think I was employee number 40 or 45, something like that. And you know, been there for four years and just got acquired by Rockwell Automation back in December of 2020.

So, incredible ride, incredible growth. And. Yeah, gosh. I mean, the learnings along the journey have been tremendous and of course, you know, multifaceted in many different areas. So, great ride and the best part is it's not done. We got a lot more good stuff going on here. Nice. 

03:56 Chris: 

So you, so you were in the forties, you said for the Fiix Software, how many people work at Fiix?

04:01 Sandy:

Yeah, we got 200 at Fiix. You know, in the context of Rockwell, what do they say? It's 23,000. So we're still, you know, kind of that tiny fish in a massive pond, but you know, it's been tremendous, like, you know, what a great organization to to be a part of and you know, what great growth opportunities, both for the business, but also, you know, certainly personally to, you know, get to learn from so many great people. Yeah. It's really.

04:24 Chris: 

That is great. That's great. I mean, for sure if I'm coming from Canada from Toronto there, so we'll get to this a little bit later, but you're more of a, oh, you're a Toronto sports fan or Pittsburgh now. 

04:35 Sandy: 

Oh, I don’t know. I have to be careful with that one. Right. I feel like somebody is going to be mad at me at the end of this. Right. But I guess, you know, old habits die hard, right? Like, you know, always a Maple Leafs fan. As much as I hate. These days, but of course, you know, my Raptors won a championship a couple of years ago and you know, Blue Jays I've always had, you know, a decent team. So, you know, I've got, I got to keep my Toronto loyalties, I suppose.

05:00 Chris: 

I hear you. I hear you. So hopefully I didn't get you in any trouble there, but I appreciate your honesty. Now how about this? I mean, you've had such experience helping industry and seeing things change. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges in the future?

05:17 Sandy: 

Yeah, it's a good, it's a good question. I'll start by saying, you know, gosh, like I'm still learning about a lot about industry, right? Like I spent, you know, 10 years at Blackberry and you know, been at fixed since 2017 and to me, it's just so fascinating talking to customers and people that have been in the industry for decades you know, kind of walk me through their journey and, you know, kind of how they run their business and how technology has changed their business and how technology continues to impact their business.

And of course, you know, I'm a technology guy, you know, certainly on the business side of things, but we're learning about kind of some of these areas where companies have had great success, some areas where they've had challenges. You know, to me, I, you know, if I had to sum it up and I like to think, you know, big, broad picture, it's a change management.

Like, you know, there's so many great things happening and great new technologies available, and software has changed so much. The question is how do you harness all that? And how do you ultimately use the tech to make an impact. And I think that's the biggest thing. And whoever figures that out, I guess, is gonna, do really well for themselves.

And, you know, it's interesting like the customers and the companies, we talked to the champions at those organizations that do well. They've really, you know, if have to like abstract what they do really well, they figured out how I'd take these massive companies with complex operations and introducing new ideas and really simplify things and do it in a way where they lead change and help people. And, you know, I just have that right empathy towards other people to know, build success. So I don't know. I think that's the biggest challenge. I think the folks that figure out how to lead that change, you're going to be successful. So I'm still trying to learn and figure it out myself. But you know, I think that's where it's at.

06:51 Chris: 

You're so true. I mean, change management is so hard, you know, and one thing, Sandy, I am curious on your advice here. We try to help people learn about industry and want to pursue a career. Right. Down a path that ultimately, it's going to line with stuff that you support. So someone who's listening right now, do you want to give them some career guidance, maybe to pursue a path like towards Fiix? What advice would you give them? 

07:17 Sandy: 

Ah, you know, it's I can give lots of advice. I don't know how much of it's actually going to be good, but I think what's only served me well is to try to be curious and listen and learn because, I've been kind of involved kind of certainly on the software side in industry for the last few years and I'm learning so much stuff, I didn't know.

And it's cool. Right? Like I always had this impression of industry being, you know, and wrongfully I'll met, but, you know, You know, in an old school type of environment, in terms of, you know, you've got machines and you've got systems and you know, maybe they're not that cool from a technology standpoint, but it's anything, but like you walk into these plants and it's like the automation and the systems and the robotics it's just mind blowing.

It is absolutely mind blowing. And I think having that curiosity and digging into, you know, really learn I think you'll open up any avenues that you want. So that's kind of number one. if I could go on, I mean, I think ultimately I think, how do we help people? At the end of the day, you can have the greatest machines, the greatest software sell people, at the end of the day, business is still people interacting with another, with one another, trying to, develop things, create value, solve problems, and ultimately, you know, how do work for others and build success in that way. I think, you know, that to me has always been, you know, a learning that I'm constantly reminded of, it's like, Hey, wait a second. Like, you know, there's no problem that can't be solved as long as we figure out, you know, where everybody's coming from, how do we put, you know, kind of our minds together and tools together to solve those problems. So I don't know, those are kind of two things that come to mind as we're talking here today. 

08:50 Chris: 

Those are great things. I mean, to the people standpoint, Sandy, I am curious on this. Any mentors for you that have helped you in your career and have you had a chance yet maybe to be a mentor to others, to help groom them along their path?

09:06 Sandy: 

Yeah. You know, I've had a lot of people I've been very blessed to have a lot of, you know, leaders who have been, very sharp from a business perspective, but I'll pick the obvious one. Right? So, our CEO at Fiix James Novak, you know, we worked together back in our days at Blackberry. I think he was, if not the youngest, one of the youngest VP's at the company and you know, his leadership in terms of how we brought Stakeholders together, groups together you know, help shape ideas and, you know, always keeping in mind, how do we do what's right for the company, but also do what's right for, those who were involved in whatever decisions get taken. 

You know, I think and he's continued to do that obviously here at Fiix, right? Like, having that mindset, how do we take care of our customers, but how do we also, you know, do what's right for the employees and it's always stuck with me. And also, you know, the drive and the willingness to try new ideas and, just because something has been done one way for a long time, doesn't mean, you know, you need to always do it that way.

That's always kind of stuck with me from, his leadership and you know, forever indebted and grateful, certainly for some of those learnings. From my standpoint to the extent I'm able to, you know, try to kind of share those learnings with others to the best of my ability. So, yeah, I mean, I think you know, to me, those are the key learnings and, you know, again James has always been pretty instrumental in that respect for sure. 

10:17 Chris: 

I mean, it sounds like he's really been helpful for you and it's great that you have that trust and it sounds like that he was intentional about really helping you in pouring into your career and giving you good advice. So it's so important to find that mentor that you can really go to and lean on and hats off to you there, man, that sounds great. How about the work that you do? How do I want to put this where e you have that moment of joy. You're doing stuff that you just, you love. What are you doing in those moments? 

10:49 Sandy: 

Ha, you know, it's an interesting question. I've thought about this quite a bit, actually over the last number of months, right. Just kind of as an interesting mental exercise, I meant to sum it up kind of in one, you know, one sentence, I kind of feel like it's, you know, give me a complex problem and let me own it and let me try and solve it. I mean, to me, from a professional standpoint, that's kind of exciting, right? You want to get out of bed. You want to put in extra hours. We want to think through things. You know, if you're doing that to me, it's great. I actually don't really care what, kind of what the actual subject matter is, but if it's something that people say, Hey, you know, this is a problem. And if we fix it, we solve it, here are the results. And if we don't, you know, here's what happens. I kind of feel like, Hey, you know what, let me get involved in that. That's kind of exciting. You like to think you're going to have success, 10 times out of 10, I think in the real world that's not always the case, but nevertheless, I kind of like to, you know, have the at bats and take a few swings and So it keeps life interesting.

11:41 Chris: 

I hear you. I hear you. I love it. I love it. So how about some, for some of those at-bats any highlights that, that you've looked back across your career and need this smile on? Cause I had, I was part of that project or whatever it was. Any highlights that you would like to share? 

11:56 Sandy: 

Yeah. You know, I'll share one from kind of, you know, the relatively recent past when I started at Fiix Software, we're a standalone CMMS platform. We always had this vision and James, you know, James always had this vision, right. He's like, we want a lot like Salesforce in terms of, who we are as a software company. And of course there's lots of things Salesforce has done well over the years, but one of the things they've done particularly well is really build out an ecosystem of partnerships where they can extend the value of the software in the industry.

And we've always had this vision at Fiix, you know, how do we do something in the industrial category. So we'll focus kind of on being a good CMMS, which is great. It's a great tool for the maintenance department, tons of value. We can do a lot there, but there's going to be a lot of areas where we're not necessarily going to invest in place, big bets in, you know, adjacent categories, whether that be visualization software, IOT software, IOT hardware.

We actually and I was tasked with, you know, how do we build out a suite of partnerships to really help augment our solution? So about a year and a half ago, we kind of went full boar ahead with that. We were able to launch, you know, the industry's first application exchange for industry specific to the CMMS category.

And we've had a lot of organizations, a lot of customers have a lot of success with Fiix Plus Partner Solutions that we've introduced. So certainly very proud moment. I don't think the story is done yet. You know, we're continuing to build, continuing to grow, things continue to evolve over time, but, we've seen kind of the window into, you know, kind of that vision.

And it's cool, you know, knowing that, I played a small part in that by, you know, really helping broker the partnership between Fiix and some of our partners. To me that you know, is always going to be a highlight because you're kind of doing something, a first, all right. And you know, doing a first is always kind of exciting. 

13:47 Chris: 

Nobody's ever been there in that road. That's a wonderful. Great highlight. Thank you for sharing. So let's, we've talked about Fiix. The wonderful things you're doing in your career. We know no doubt you, you have so much more to come in the future, but I like to take a turn and let's talk about Sandy outside of work. So what are some hobbies you enjoy? What do you enjoy doing or fun? 

14:11 Sandy: 

So I got two small kids. You got a son who's six, six and a half, I guess. And a daughter who's 16 months old. And honestly, when I'm not doing stuff to Fiix they keep me on my toes, keep me busy, whether it be, you know, Brazilian jujitsu with my son or playing in the yard.

Honestly like that's, they're my life. You know, my wife and I just absolutely love spending time as a family and just being outside and you know, it's interesting. Don't always have to be doing something specific, but you know, when we're together and we're outside and we're doing things as a family nothing could be better than that.

So, yeah, it's you know, feel very blessed, very fortunate to have such a wonderful family and they keep me on my toes. That's for sure.

14:51 Chris: 

What was it that your son is into again? 

14:55 Sandy: 

He's into Brazilian jujitsu. Yeah. You know, give him a couple of years, right. You'll be you'll be taking me down.

15:01 Chris: 

Okay. So he breaking boards yet? 

15:05 Sandy: 

Not yet. Hopefully you know, hopefully the drywall will hold out for the next few years. Right. So far, so good. Fingers crossed. 

15:14 Chris: 

Did he pick that up from you? Did you enjoy it? Did you learn that? I mean, where did that come?

15:20 Sandy: 

You know, it's funny. It didn't come from me. Right. But it's one of those things. And I think, you know, any of the fathers out there, you can probably relate, right? Like all the things that you kind of think, Hey, you know what, it'd be cool to have learned martial art or would have been cool to do this and that, you know, you always kind of think, Hey, you know what? Like, it'd be cool if I could help my kids do the things that, you know, maybe I didn't do that, think would be good. Right. And we're all, I don't know. I think most people probably, they want their kids to, have it better than they had it. And I had it pretty great. No complaints that's for sure. But you know, obviously you kind of, you know, in, in the same vein. Picking up a martial art, I think is a great skill. Great discipline. And yeah, we got him involved and just absolutely loves it. So it's good. 

16:00 Chris: 

That's great. That is so awesome. Now you said you're 18 months old as a girl. So as a girl, dad, just some fair warning, you're the hero play that hero for a long time. Mine are eight and 10. I'm still the hero right now, but at some point I'm sure the shift to the villain, but there's nothing like being a girl dad either, man. So she's great to you know, to have that. Thank you for sharing that. Anything else about your family you'd like to share? Is the rest of your family still in Toronto? 

16:27 Sandy: 

Yeah, my parents, my siblings still up in Toronto last year and a half, I've been a bit tricky with traveling and so forth, but you know, thank God for modern technology. Right? You got FaceTime. It's not the same of course, but it's a heck of a lot better than the alternative. So yeah, certainly grateful for that. 

16:43 Chris: 

Love it. I love it. Now how about personal stuff you enjoy consuming? It could be podcasts or books or just things on YouTube or Netflix, whatever it may be. Anything that you enjoy, personal or professional that you think other listeners may or may not like to check out?

16:58 Sandy: 

Yeah, I think, you know, the odd business podcasts, like, you know, the, some of the Simon Sinek, stuff's pretty cool. You know, kind of, kind of really enjoy that. I like to read a bunch of things online. Articles from different sources, right? Just about industry and technology. I can't think of necessarily, you know, one specific one that I can say, Hey, you know, this is my top favorite. I like to kind of consume content from a variety of different resources that helps me formulate different opinions and so forth. But you know, it's amazing.

Like there's just so much great content out there at your fingertips, right? Like, I grew up in the days when I used the yellow pages and fax machines and I remember going to my dad's office as a kid. There was no internet back then. And you know, life was a lot different. You had cassette tapes if you wanted to listen to something. So, you know, it's yeah, it's pretty remarkable how much great stuff is out there at our fingertips these days really puts it in perspective. 

17:46 Chris: 

No doubt. No doubt. Now I really want to get to know you a little bit better here. So we're going to play a lightning round, ask you a bunch of random stuff, just fire away, whatever comes to mind. So from Toronto, let's see, I'm anxious to see favorite food? 

18:05 Sandy: 


18:06 Chris: 

All right! My man, I love it. We were on the same page there. How about adult beverage? 

18:13 Sandy: 

You know, some good craft beer hits the spot. 

18:15 Chris: 

Any particular one, if you had to narrow it down to a top, anyone standing up?

18:20 Sandy: 

Probably something from Bell's brewery at Michigan. Yeah, always a favorite Bell's Founders and stuff.

18:28 Chris: 

What's on your nightstand? 

18:31 Sandy: 

What's on my nightstand. You're going to laugh at me, but a lamp and a charging cord from my phone. 

18:38 Chris: 

The only other thing I have is a charging cord for my watch. So, I mean, I do have a few books, but yeah. How about favorite app? I mean your software gas. So what app could you not live without? 

18:50 Sandy: 

What app can I not live without? AccuWeather. You know, I was at a conference and IOT conference a year and a half ago. I had a chance to meet Dr. Joel Myers. I think it's Dr. Joel Myers, founder of AccuWeather. And he gave a talk I'm here, I'm diverting, but he had to talk about big data and its application and weather. And I had no idea kind of all the science and the technology that goes into weather forecasting. And when they say they're the most accurate, I actually believe it. Like, it's pretty cool how they built it out. So anyways, AccuWeather, great app. And yeah, it was kind of cool getting to meet Mr. Meyers. 

19:27 Chris: 

That sounds awesome for sure. How about guilty pleasure? 

19:32 Sandy: 

Guilty pleasure. I, you know, when we did the prep for this, I was thinking about it. Right. You know, gosh, I couldn't come up with one, like, it's it's interesting. Like, you know, literally, you know, I wake up in the morning, I like to rise pretty early, you know? We have our breakfast as a family, you get to work and then after work, like it's family time again, and you go to bed before, you know it. So I don't know, like, I don't know if there's a guilty pleasure up there, but I might have to come back to you on that one. So hopefully you'll have me on again at some point.

19:57 Chris: 

Oh, for sure. I'm thinking for you though, based off your first answer being chocolate, there's gotta be a guilty pleasure of chocolate mixed in there at some point. 

20:07 Sandy: 

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It's like, I'm sure. Right. And I probably consume too much ice cream or something. 

20:11 Chris: 

How about a destination? Somewhere you got to go one day that you haven't been to yet. 

20:18 Sandy: 

Yeah. It's that's a good one. You know, I'm going to go with Hawaii, you know? I mean, it sounds like it's what, 75, 80 degrees, every day, suns shining, you've got the mountains. You've got the beach. Someone told me that there's no snakes in Hawaii. I lived in Florida for two years and there were snakes on our property all the time. So I wouldn't mind, nice weather and no snakes. So I'll go to Hawaii. 

20:39 Chris: 

We did our honeymoon there and I will say if you can ever get a chance to go highly recommend, we went to Maui and you're right in the mountains. We did a sunrise on top of a volcano. You know, seeing the sunrise, the sunset on the beach the weather's perfect. And I did not see a snake, so that was a good, very good. How about someplace you have been that you really recommend others? 

21:03 Sandy: 

Yeah. You know, on our honeymoon, we actually did a driving tour of the Swiss Alps. I'd never been to Switzerland, but before that. You know, you look at the pictures and, you know, it's interesting. I look back at the pictures and the pictures never do it justice. Like how breathtaking it is when you're at the, you know, the peaks and you're in the glaciers and you see the roads kind of winding their way through the mountains. And it was just mind blowing. It was just such a, you know, other worldly experience and, you know, again, you feel so fortunate to be here in the United States. I mean as a trip, it was unbelievable. It was, yeah, just like something I'll never, ever forget. 

21:39 Chris: 

Sounds so awesome. So awesome. All right. Last one. Pets, dogs or cats? 

21:44 Sandy: 


21:45 Chris: 

Amen. All right, you got it right. There is only one right answer. So good job Sandy. Any special breeds, anything, any type of dog?

21:55 Sandy: 

You know, we had dachshunds growing up as a kid and then we made a dramatic shift to a black lab and the black lab was like, she was just the most incredible dog, intelligent, affectionate. So my money's on, the labs right now. You know, they're just such great dogs. 

22:12 Chris: 

They are for sure. And how about, you know, we call it EECO Asks Why Sandy. It has been, it's been a blast getting to know you, but I love to wrap up to understand what you're passionate about. So somebody want to know what your personal, why is, what would it be? 

22:26 Sandy: 

Yeah. You know, it's funny, my wife first time we met, you know, we were having a discussion. She asked, what are you passionate about? And I actually had to think about it for a couple of minutes and I answered saying I'm actually passionate about everything because you know what, like at the end of the day, kind of, it doesn't matter in my opinion, you know what we're doing, but if we're engaged and we're having fun and we're doing things with the people that we're close to, then, you know what, like all the other stuff is, noise or it's peripheral.

So you know what. I just think, enjoy the moments, enjoy the life, you know, the time, I realized over the weekend, like the time flies and you know, might as well spend it getting engaged and enjoying the moment and live in the moment. So there you have it. 

23:08 Chris: 

Well, one thing for sure, saying, I have definitely enjoyed the moments with you. It's been a blast getting to know you and for what you shared with us today, and just getting to know a little bit more and, you know, outside of work, the things that you are passionate about, we wish you nothing but the best with that little girl and your son. And it sounds like you got a fun road ahead of you my friend. 

23:27 Sandy: 

Thank you so much, Chris really appreciate it. I'm really glad to be on a thank you so much for having me. 

23:32 Chris: 

Absolutely. And for our listeners who want to connect with Sandy, just check out our show notes. We'll have a link to connect with him directly on LinkedIn, as well as, you know, Fiix Software in any other the resources that we spoke about today. So Sandy, thank you again, and we hope you have a wonderful day, sir. 

23:48 Sandy: 

Thank you so much, Chris. We really appreciate it.