In addition to being a valued Business and Bourbon Member, Eric Chanh wears many hats. Eric is the Founder, Chief Revenue & Strategy Officer of Cloud Warriors, a Member of the Partner Advisory Council at Zoom, and the Founder & CEO of Laridae Cloud Group.
Eric’s company, Cloud Warriors, is a technology brokerage and consulting firm with a mission to create jobs for US Military Veterans. The Cloud Warriors team works with clients to strategize scalable plans that empower their organizations to increase productivity, enhance security, and reduce costs. The coolest part? A portion of every successful engagement is allocated toward the hiring and development of transitioning veterans, either for the customer or within the Cloud Warriors ecosystem.
Tell us about your education and background.
I received three degrees from Virginia Tech in Business Information Technology, Finance, and Economics. I always wanted to be an engineer, which is how I started but quickly fell in love with the mathematics of finance and patterned human behavior with economics. It's crazy how the three fell into one journey but I can say without a doubt it has benefited me throughout my career specifically in terms of decision making.
What was your first job?
This is a funny story. I graduated after the dot-bomb and it was hard for college grads to get jobs. I ended up working for free for Presidio as the first inside sales rep for 6 months because they would not hire me for an actual wage. Working for free for Presidio to start my career without an ego-driven by my three degrees is my most pivotal career experience. I've always said, “when you see everyone go right, there is wisdom in going left…”
After 2 years, I was recruited by Cisco as one of — if not the — youngest account managers in the country. Those 3 years were like an MBA in sales and tech. Long story short, I went back to Presidio and ended up becoming a National VP of the Contact Center BU but had a three-year stop at Cisco when I was 25. I love how my story progressed after having the passion and risk to work for free and bartend at night.
Who is/was your mentor and what was the most important lesson you learned from them?
Brian Shore has been my mentor for the majority of my life. He got me my shot at Presidio and ultimately recruited me at the company. My story is not without fault — I had a lot to learn at every step of my journey. While at Cisco, Brian saw me struggling and made me a deal; if I brought in Chick-Fil-A breakfast every morning at 6 am, he would spend 1-2 hours every day training me. Again, Cisco was a sport and an MBA all in one. Brian continues to be my best friend and has enjoyed an amazingly successful career. He is currently the CEO of Eleveo.
What piece of advice would you want to give colleagues?
Easy, work for free! What I mean by that is: I don't expect my situation to ever repeat itself. But believing in yourself when everyone thinks you are wrong or crazy, you have to follow your gut and no matter what, you can always outwork someone.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Starting my own company, Cloud Warriors, with my business partner Chris Nebel. We have realized unprecedented success in a short amount of time — but really, my pride is taking the first step and the "leap of faith". What we are building to help veterans transition into the IT space has overtaken the initial pride of a startup and become a mission and a purpose.
If you could change anything in your industry, what would it be and why?
Complacency. My best example is preparing for a presentation. Professionals do not treat their profession like a sport. It takes practice. If you're preparing for a presentation, practice in front of the mirror, work outside of your comfort zone and show up early to test your equipment...
What lasting contribution do you hope to make to society/the professional world?
Cloud Warriors Mission Statement: We are a cloud technology brokerage and consultancy with a mission to create jobs for U.S. Military Veterans.
Eric was a recent panelist at Business & Bourbon Raleigh. You can listen to additional insights from Eric at the Raleigh event in this podcast.
To stay connected with Eric, be sure to follow him on LinkedIn.