By Amy W., NetApp employee
Some people might wonder how it is possible to be with a company as long as I have. The simple truth is that I told myself that the minute I stop feeling challenged and valued, I would look for a new gig. That day has never come.
Every four or five years I have either found, developed, designed or been asked to take on a new challenge at NetApp. I’ve worked in three departments and am about to move to a fourth. This has given me exposure to many sides of the business, to people I would have never known and provided me with a very diverse background on which to draw when faced with everyday tasks and issues. I am eternally grateful to work for a company that gives you chances to spread your wings.
When I am asked to name one thing that really illustrates our culture and makes NetApp a “great place to work” I am taken back to March of 2000…
I was 8 months pregnant with my first child and we were having an All Hands meeting. There I was standing at the back of the room getting restless, as people generally do during these types of events, but enjoying the opportunity to hear our executives share their thoughts and strategies. As they transitioned to the stage to start an executive panel the CEO at the time, Dan Warmenhoven, pointed to an empty chair and said, “As we get ready to get this panel started, I wanted to point out that we have an empty chair up here on the stage. This is Chris’ chair…” Chris was the VP of HR at this time. He went on to say “I asked to have this chair remain empty because I wanted to make a point. Chris’ fourth grade son is giving a presentation today at school. He was really nervous about delivering a speech and he asked his mom if she would come to support him at school.”
Dan continued, “Chris knew this meeting was today and it was very important to me. But we talked about it and I want to emphasize that Chris made the right decision today. Her son needed her. She has a family and a life and it is important that we stay focused on what is really important. Don’t get me wrong. When you are here I want you to work hard. But I also want you all to have a life outside of NetApp. If you don’t have a life – go out and get one! Now, let’s get started….”
I had tears streaming down both cheeks and I looked around to see many people who were also touched. It is not every day you have a CEO point out that he wants his employees to have a life. Working around the clock has never been a big part of the culture here. Of course there are those who don’t know how to work any other way. But most leaders at NetApp value a well-rounded team. Being good people, supporting our peers, communities, schools and families is a big part of what it means to work at NetApp.
Twelve years have passed since that meeting at Great America and I now have three children ages 12, 10 and 6. I can honestly say that this company follows through with the promise of work-life balance.