Why Culture Matters – Q&A with Gwen McDonald, EVP of HR for NetApp

NetApp 360 spoke with Gwen McDonald, executive vice president of Human Resources for NetApp, to get her thoughts about why culture is such an important component of company success.  Reinforcing the company’s commitment to culture, NetApp once again was ranked as one of the world’s best workplaces according to the latest rankings from the Great Place to Work Institute.




NetApp was ranked one of the world’s best workplaces. Can you tell us a little about the ranking and why it is important to NetApp?

Let me start by congratulating and thanking our 12,000+ employees from around the globe that helped to make this tremendous recognition possible.  This “World’s Best” recognition is the culmination of all the Great Place to Work achievements for NetApp in 2012 and is a tremendous honor. It is a genuine reflection of our strong company culture.  What is interesting and exciting about these rankings is that they are based primarily on employee survey results from around the globe. They highlight our commitment to creating a fantastic work environment for our employees, but this also translates into an environment where customers and partners want to work with us as well. It is a true differentiator for us.


In your opinion, what are some of the key elements that make a company like NetApp a great place to work?

We are a model company built on 20 years of strong values and an un-paralleled culture. We are One Team truly dedicated to our customers and each other. We believe in doing the right thing and going beyond to get things done.



What distinguishes us is that we enable our employees to make a real impact to the business, which empowers them to do great things. In NetApp’s egalitarian culture, employees are respected at all levels and are given the tools, resources, and autonomy to perform their job with success. We have a collaborative and open communication environment where everyone is expected to contribute and their input is valued, which sets the foundation for our innovation and building a great workplace. Executives and managers companywide encourage candor and transparency, and they are known to be approachable by all employees.



How do you differentiate perks from a culture that delivers real impact and matters to employees?

Our culture is more than offering great perks and benefits – it’s about creating an environment where people are happy to come to work, enjoy the work they do, have trust in management, and enjoy who they work with. This helps make all employees feel part of the team, creating a sense of unity and camaraderie. And while we do have terrific perks, we focus on those areas that employees tell us are important to them, like our Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program where employees receive 5 paid work days to volunteer within their communities. 


How can culture impact customers or partners?

Creating a great workplace is important to NetApp because we want to create a phenomenal employee experience, but also because we strongly believe that engaged, passionate employees lead to business success for our customers, partners and for NetApp.  Our employees give us their best everyday and we are extremely grateful and believe that our employees living our values and powering our dynamic culture is our greatest differentiator.