If colleagues had to say just one thing about Avital Arora, it’s that she’s never one to shy away from a challenge. Avital is Senior Director of the FlashRay storage engineering team at NetApp, a worldwide leader in software, systems and services for data management and storage. She and her team are responsible for Mars, the revolutionary operating system for the FlashRay all-flash storage system.
Avital and her team are driving key technical innovations in flash as well as enhancements related to storage processes, tools and infrastructure. Her team’s breakthroughs brought in seven new patents in 2014 alone.
“Building a ‘startup’ within an established company is often seen as a way of accelerating innovation,” says Avital. “We have grown into a portfolio company, and Mars is a huge testament to our commitment to expanding our portfolio by innovating from within.”
Avital and the FlashRay team had their share of challenges. You don’t have to be familiar with flash to understand that there are inherent problems with bringing any new technology to market. Avital has led her team to tackle some of the toughest challenges of flash storage, including durability, efficiency and cost. Working toward solving these critical issues deeply impacts not just NetApp, but the entire storage industry.
Avital notes that while the FlashRay team did a lot of things well as NetApp’s first startup within the company, there are still opportunities for improvement.
“Trying to find the right balance between process, predictability and innovation, which are often at odds with each other, can be challenging,” says Avital, “but is also incredibly rewarding when you succeed.”
When it comes to building her team, Avital is dedicated to assembling the best and the brightest in the industry. Benefiting from NetApp’s inclusive company culture, she has built an effective and diverse team.
As a leader, Avital sees herself as equal parts friend and sponsor, rather than manager or mentor. “As a sponsor, you’re helping people find their strengths as well as opportunities for growth. That’s been invaluable to me in the past, and that’s what I try to give back.”
Avital is always willing to share her knowledge and experience with her peers and team members. In particular, she enjoys connecting with other women on her team about the challenges of being a working mom.
Her secret to success? Passion. “If you’re passionate about whatever it is you’re leading, the rest of it tends to figure itself out.”
Meet Avital and other inspiring innovators at our Women of Vision Awards Banquet May 14, 2015.