John Hennessy, Knight-Hennessy Scholars | ACG SV Grow! Awards 2019

John Hennessy, Knight-Hennessy Scholars | ACG SV Grow! Awards 2019

September 9, 2019 1 By Ronny Jaskolski


(upbeat music)>>From Mountain View, California, it’s theCUBE, covering the
15th Annual GROW! Awards. Brought to you by ACG SV.>>Hi, Lisa Martin with
theCUBE on the ground at the Computer History Museum for the 15th Annual ACG SV Awards. And in Mountain View,
California, excited to welcome to theCUBE for the first
time, John Hennessy, the chairman of Alphabet and the co-founder of the Knight-Hennessy
Scholars Program at Stanford. John, it’s truly a pleasure to have you on theCUBE today.>>Well, delighted to be here, Lisa.>>So, I was doing some research on you and I see Marc Andreessen has called you the
Godfather of Silicon Valley.>>Yeah, Marc’s very generous (laughs)>>So, I thought I was pretty
cool, I’m going to sit down with the Godfather tonight. (laughs) I have not done that yet. So you are keynoting the 15th Annual ACG SV Awards tonight. Talk to us a little
bit about the takeaways that the audience is going
to hear from you tonight.>>Well, they’re going
to hear some things about leadership, the importance of leadership. Obviously the importance of innovation. We’re in the middle of Silicon Valley, innovation is a big thing. And the role that technology
plays in our lives and how we should be thinking about that, and how do we ensure the
technology is something that serves the public good?>>Definitely. So there’s about, I think, over 230 attendees expected
tonight, over 100 C-levels. The ACG SV is, has been, it’s much more than a
networking organization. There’s a lot of opportunities for collaboration, for community. Tell me a little bit about your experience with that from a collaboration standpoint.>>Well, I think collaboration
is a critical ingredient. I mean, for so many years, you look at the collaboration’s gone. Just take between
between the universities. My own, Stanford and Silicon Valley and how that collaboration
has developed over time and lead the founding of great companies. But also collaboration within the Valley. This is the place to
be a technology person. In the whole world, it’s the best place, partly because of this collaboration, and this innovative spirit that really is a core part
of what we are as a place.>>I agree, the innovative spirit is one of the things that I enjoy about not only being in technology, but also living in Silicon Valley. You can’t go to a Starbucks without hearing a conversation or many conversations about new startups or cloud technology. So the innovative spirit
is pervasive here. And it’s also one that I find in an in an environment like ASG SV. You just hear a lot of inspiring stories and I was doing some research on them. In the last 18 months, five CEO positions have been seated and materialized through ACG SV. Number of venture deals initiated, several board positions. So a lot of opportunity in
this group here tonight.>>Right, well I think that’s important because so much of the leadership has got to come by
recruiting new young people. And with the increase in
concern about diversity and our leadership core and our boards, I think building that network out and trying to stretch it a little bit from the, from perhaps
the old boys’ network of an earlier time in the
Valley is absolutely crucial.>>Couldn’t agree more. So let’s now talk a little bit about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars
Program at Stanford. Tell us a little bit about it. When was it founded?>>So we are we are in
our very first year, actually, this year, our
first year of scholars. We founded it in 2016. The motivation was, I think, an increasing gap we perceived in terms of the need for great leadership and what was available. And it was in government. It was in the nonprofit world, it was in the for profit world. So I, being a lifelong educator said, “What can we do about this?” Well, let’s try to recruit and develop a core of younger people who show that they’re
committed to the greater good and who are excellent, who are innovative, who are creative, and prepare them for
leadership roles in the future.>>So you’re looking for, are these undergraduate
students who have–>>They’re graduate students, so they’ve completed their undergraduate. It’s a little hard to tell when somebody’s coming out of high school, what their civic commitment is, what their ability to lead is. But coming out of
undergraduate experience, and often a few years of work experience, we can tell a lot more about whether somebody has the
potential to be a future leader.>>So you said, founded just in 2016. And one of the things I saw that was very interesting is, projecting in the next 50 years, there’s going to be 5,000
Knight-Hennessy Scholars at various stages of their careers and government organizations,
NGOs, as you mentioned. So looking out 50 years, you have a strong vision there, but really expect this organization to be able to make a lasting impact.>>That’s what our goal is. Lasting impact over decades, because people who go
into leadership positions often take a decade or two
to rise to that position. But that’s what our investment is. Our investment is in the future. And when I went to Phil
Knight who’s my co-founder and donor, lead donor to the program, he was enthusiastic. His view was that we had a we had a major gap in leadership. And we needed to begin training. We need to do multiple things. We need to do things
like we’re doing tonight. But we also need to think about that next younger
generation is up and coming.>>So, in terms of inspiring
the next generation of innovative diversity thinkers. Talk to me about some of the things that this program is aimed at, in addition to just, you know, some of the knowledge about leadership, but really helping them understand this diverse nature in which we now all find ourselves living.>>So one of the things we do is we try to bring in leaders from all different walks of life to meet and have a
conversation with our Scholars. This morning, we had
the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in
town, Michelle Bachelet, and she sat down and talked about how she thought about her role as addressing human rights. How to move things forward
in very complex situations we face around the world, with collapse of many governments and many human right violations. And how do you make that forward progress with a difficult problem? So that kind of exposure to leaders who are grappling with
really difficult problems is a critical part of our program.>>And they’re really seeing and experiencing real world situations.>>Absolutely, they’re
seeing them up close as they’re really occurring. They see the challenges we had. We had Governor Brown in, just
before he went out of office here in California, to talk about criminal justice reform, a major issue in California
and around the country. And how do we make progress
on that particular challenge?>>So you mentioned a
couple of other leaders who the students I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and engage with. But you yourself are quite
the established leader. You went to Stanford
as a professor in 1977. You are a President Emeritus. You were President of
Stanford from 2000 to 2016. So these students also get the opportunity to learn from all that
you have experienced as it as a professor of computer science, as well as in one of your current roles as chairman of Alphabet. Talk to us a little bit about, just the massive changes
that you have seen, not just in Silicon Valley, but in technology and innovation over the last 40 plus years.>>Well, it is simply amazing. When I arrived at Stanford, there was no Internet. The ARPANET was in its young days. Email was something that
a bunch of engineers and scientists used to communicate, nobody else did. I still remember going and seeing the first demonstration of
what would become Yahoo! Well, while Dave Filo and Jerry Yang had it set up in their office. And the thing that
immediately convinced me, Lisa was they showed me that
their favorite pizza parlor would now allow orders to go online. And when I saw that I said, the World Wide Web is not just about a bunch of scientists and engineers exchanging information. It’s going to change our lives and it did. And we’ve seen wave after
wave of that with Google and Facebook and social media rise. And now the rise of AI. I mean, this is a
transformative technology as big as anything I
think we’ve ever seen. In terms of its potential impact.>>It is, AI is so transformative. I was in Hawaii recently on vacation and Barracuda Networks
was actually advertising about AI in Hawaii and I
thought that’s interesting that the people that are coming to Hawaii on vacation, presumably, people have
you know, many generations who now have AI as a common household word may not understand the
massive implications and opportunities that it provides. But it is becoming pervasive at every event we’re at at theCUBE and there’s a lot of opportunity there. It’s a very exciting subject. Last question for you. You mentioned that this, that the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program is really aimed towards graduate students. What is your advice to
those, maybe STEM kids in high school right now who are watching this saying “Oh, John, what, how do you advise me “to be able to eventually get
into a program like this?”>>Well, I think it begins by
really finding your passion, finding something you’re
really dedicated to. Pushing yourself, challenging yourself. Showing that you can do
great things with it. And then thinking about the bigger role you want to have with technology. In the, after all, technology is not an end in itself. It’s a tool to make human lives better and that’s the sort of
person we’re looking for in the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.>>Best advice you’ve ever gotten?>>Best advice I’ve ever gotten is remember that
leadership is about service to the people in the institution you lead.>>It’s fantastic, not
about about yourself but really about service to those–
>>About service to others.>>John, it’s been a pleasure having you on theCUBE tonight. We wish you the best
of luck in your keynote at the 15th Annual ACG SV Awards and we thank you for your time.>>Thank you, Lisa. I’ve enjoyed it. Lisa Martin, you’re watching theCUBE on the ground. Thanks for watching. (gentle music)