Michael Weening's rise from a small Canadian town to the CEO of Calix is a living example of how a goal-centered foundation and strategic planning can build a successful career and life. Weening's leadership model embraces curiosity and the transformative impact of constantly striving for excellence.

Weening's tenure at Microsoft, Bell Canada, and Salesforce showcases his expertise in turning companies into growth-oriented entities. However, his international stint in Tokyo with Salesforce marked a significant turning point. Describing Tokyo as akin to "living on Mars," Weening's experience there broadened his worldview, emphasizing the necessity of a global perspective in today's interconnected business landscape. This global outlook, influenced by his family's encouragement to seek international opportunities, is a crucial component of his leadership – an openness to embrace change and challenging environments.

Weening's eventual move to Calix was not straightforward. Initially hesitant about joining a hardware company, his conversation with Calix's CEO, Carl Russo, altered his perspective. Impressed by Russo's intellect and vision for leveraging cloud software to revolutionize the broadband industry, Weening recognized an opportunity for groundbreaking work. This decision is a recurring theme in his career: choosing intellectually stimulating and challenging opportunities over purely financial rewards.

Under Weening's leadership, Calix has undergone a significant transformation. From a hardware-centric business to a software, cloud, and appliance company, Calix's change reflects Weening's philosophy of undertaking "hard things" and taking substantial risks. This strategic shift has led to impressive growth in Calix's market cap, a testament to the company's success in a competitive industry.

A distinctive aspect of Weening's leadership approach is his emphasis on goal-centric thinking and strategic planning. He underlines the importance of setting ambitious goals and formulating detailed plans to reach them. This strategy is crucial not just for personal advancement but also for corporate success. It’s evident in how he navigated his career transitions and steered Calix’s strategic direction.

One of Calix's notable operational strategies under Weening's leadership is its remote working model, which was implemented in 2016, well ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic's onset. This proactive decision, driven by a desire to attract the best talent regardless of location, exemplifies Weening's ability to foresee and adapt to future trends in the workplace.

Weening's philosophy centers on the belief that investing in others' success leads to personal and corporate triumph. This principle is pivotal at Calix, nurturing a culture that values collaboration, innovation, and growth. It's a strategy benefiting Calix's employees and customers and contributing to its robust performance.

As Calix continues to evolve and expand under Weening's leadership, his journey remains a compelling example of how visionary leadership can drive transformative change in an organization and an industry.

Written by

Rachel Swan