Employees Talk- What Makes NetApp US Public Sector a Great Place to Work?

The Washington Business Journal revealed their annual Best Places to Work list for 2013 and NetApp was ranked #6 and the #1 IT company in the DC area. Employees are the heart of NetApp’s culture, so Government Gurus spoke with employees from the Vienna office to understand what makes it one of the best places to work in DC.

1. Congratulations on being one of DC’s best places to work! What is the importance of being recognized as a best place to work in DC?

Shelie Brooks, Field Marketing Manager, DoD: The Best Place to Work ranking is based on candid employee feedback, so if what the employees are saying is good, that says it all.  To me, it means that we all enjoy what we do so we don’t feel like it’s a job.  

Jessica Giggey, Account Manager, Federal Financials: Making this list is a huge honor. It means that our employees enjoy coming to work every day and take pride in what they do!

Raj Rana, Sr. Manager, Systems Engineering: Obviously, as with any company with a culture that includes “Get[ting] Things Done”, it’s logical to expect our leaders to measure our progress against this goal, thus the emphasis on the “Best Place to Work” rankings.  It’s a way of ensuring that we’re able to hit the targets we set for ourselves.

Greg Jacobson, Senior Director, Channel Sales: It hopefully draws others in this community (be they customers, partners or alliances) to want to work with us.  An accolade like this puts you a notch above your competition in a very different way.

2. What role does culture play in NetApp DC’s ability to succeed with customers, partners, and vendors?

SB: Culture is huge for us at NetApp and we are definitely known for it.  Our partners like to get involved when we host charity events because giving back is a big part of our culture.  At the end of the day, we work hard and play hard.  We work to give our customers and partners what they need to be successful, and we play when celebrating things like GPTW, customer wins, and charity work.

JG: Even though we strive to be a great company to work for – we also strive to be a great company to work with.  NetApp is committed to working through the channel and our exceptional network of partners and integrators to make sure we cohesively drive success for our customers. Our culture is contagious and I have found that many of our partners and customers want to be a part of it – and we consider them to be a part of our extended family.  After all, NetApp US Public Sector would not be recognized as the #1 storage provider to the federal government without that synergy and a strong ecosystem. 

RR: Here in DC, as one of the largest field offices at NetApp, we’ve been able to develop our own micro-culture. As such, we’re also responsible for maintaining our culture, and also, measuring it.  Being recognized as a GPTW is a reflection of our strategy, as validated by the most important critics—our own employees.  This ranking isn’t just confirmation of our employees that they like and appreciate the DC micro-culture (and by extension the overall NetApp Culture), but also lets our customers and partners know that we choose to work here, and that we enjoy it!  Studies show that Great Places to Work are able to retain top performers, and better fulfill the needs of our customers and partners.  If our employees are fulfilled, they’ll be more willing to go the extra mile to give our partners and customers what they need—even if it’s not their job.

GJ: It’s arguably ALL ABOUT culture.  Yes, the technology is a huge differentiator, but when partners and customers simply want to see you and hear from you because they like doing business with NetApp, it means the world.  Selling NetApp is easier than other technologies because our customers and our partners WANT us to be successful.  Culture is what makes that possible.

3. How long have you been at NetApp? And what attracted you to NetApp?

SB: I have been at NetApp for 5 years, and I am hoping to be here for at least 5 more.  I had a close friend that worked at NetApp a few years ago and partners always had good things to say about NetApp.  When your partners and customers are saying good things about you, it has to be a great place to work.  I’ve also realized over the years that friendships are formed and when someone leaves they all say the same thing, “I will definitely miss everyone here.”

JG: If you ask any employee why they were attracted to NetApp, the answer will most likely be the “NetApp Culture” (shocker!) – but I couldn’t agree more.  NetApp is consistently ranked in top 10 lists of "Best Companies to Work For" and a big part of that comes from the culture and the type of people it attracts.  A good company culture always begins with a common set of values, and at NetApp these values are based on integrity, leadership, simplicity, adaptability, teamwork, going beyond, and getting things done.  These values are the heart and soul of the company, and they are evident every day through our customers, colleagues, shareholders, partners, and the community.  Joining the NetApp family right after college was definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have thoroughly enjoyed the two years I have spent here.  Cheers to many more!

RR: In September, I’ll have been here for eight years.  What initially attracted me to NetApp isn’t what’s keeping me here.  I was initially recruited by a friend of mine, who was over-the-top excited about working here, and really wanted me to join.  However, what’s keeping me here is the ability to grow and learn new things—both features of a growth company.  While the market has been challenging, NetApp isn’t afraid of changing and innovating, whether in our products or in our organizational development.  Throughout these changes, I can always trust that executive management has the best interests of our company and organization in mind.  While change is always challenging, having this basic need met allows me and my co-workers to focus on the customers and partners, and trust that the changes will work out.  And they always have!

GJ: I am in my 8th year at NetApp.  A few good industry friends of mine worked here and I remember one of them saying to me “I think you should check NetApp out.  There is something really special happening at this place.”  Six months, 17 interviews later (including an initial Mark Weber rejection), I arrived and haven’t thought about doing anything else since.