It's funny how things happen.
Joe's open letter to Data Domain employees has spontaneously triggered a number of us to share why we like to work at EMC.
And, since I'm a different sort of person, my motivations are well -- rather different.
It's All About What You Really Want
All through my life, I have not been able to tolerate being bored for any length of time. In grade school, I was initially labelled a troublemaker until the adults figured out that I was being bored to tears by the painfully slow pace of classwork.
Outside of school, I had the full complement of chemistry sets, electronic projects and a few rather dangerous pursuits that kept me fully occupied.
Not to mention the local emergency room, fire department, police force, etc.
My choice of university was driven by its academic philosophy. I ended up at UC Santa Cruz where I was able to not only complete a few traditional degrees, but follow my interests without too much restriction and categorization -- which might explain the theoretical linguistics coursework on my transcript.
As I entered the workforce, if it didn't interest me, I wasn't any good at it. And since things didn't tend to hold my interest for more than a year or so, I ended up hopping around from thing to thing.
And Then There Was EMC
My initial fascination with EMC (way back in 1994) was the observation that information was going to end up being more important than compute or network, so why not join a storage company and see where it goes?
Everyone makes up their own meanings to the initials we use. My favorite interpretation is "everything must change (squared)".
Indeed, within 12 months of my joining EMC, it had shifted from a company that was almost exclusively focused on mainframes to one that was almost exclusively focused on UNIX and open systems -- in addition to introducing some cool new technologies that solved some real problems (SRDF and TimeFinder specifically).
I remember thinking to myself that any company that could change its focus that quickly -- and not disrupt either its business or its relationship with customers -- well, that was a pretty important attribute to me.
Later, our shift in core strategy and our resulting long string of mostly-successful acquisitions confirmed my belief that this was indeed a special place at its heart.
Permission To Roam
Although most people would call me a marketing guy, I've done product development, product marketing, sales operations, professional services, technical presales -- all at EMC. I've always had the freedom to move around and try different things. Not all of them worked out as well as I would have initially hoped, but that's part of the fun as well.
Now I get the freedom to roam the virtual halls of EMC and interact with just about everyone.
I get to chat with product engineers about what they're working on, and what we all think will happen next. Indeed, I can point to portions of the EMC portfolio and see my fingerprints in a few places.
I get to work with our sales and marketing groups on the demand side of the equation -- what do customers and partners want, and -- more importantly -- how is it changing? I get to work with our M&A guys on investment themes and strategic angles. I get to work with our global services group on different parts of their world.
There's more, but I think you get the idea. It's not my official job, it's just kind of how it works.
And I get to romp in one of the biggest technology gardens on the planet -- storage, backup, networking, virtualization, security, cloud, content management, etc. etc. There's always something new and shiny to go learn and understand.
The best part, though, is the interaction I get outside of EMC.
I get to meet some of the smartest and most passionate IT people on the planet -- our customers and partners. We always don't agree, but we always enjoy and value the interaction and discussion. And I get to represent my company in the press, in public forums and -- of course -- via this blog.
Finally, I get to do some radical innovation from time to time.
As just one example, over two years ago, I jumped into this whole social media proficiency thing -- to start to transform EMC into a 2.0-style company. It was a blast and was wildy successful, but at some point it was self-sustaining, and it was time to move on.
Currently, most of my work is around private clouds, and the VMware / Cisco / EMC alliance that is working together to accelerate fully virtualized environments and the new federation models they create. It is heady, exciting and transformational stuff.
As a result, at the end of the day, I'm always exhausted -- physically, emotionally and intellectually. I couldn't ask for anything better from the company I work for.
It's About Value Systems
One of the things I've noticed as I go through life is that I prefer to associate with people who tend to share my values. Backgrounds and perspectives are less important, core values are more important.
It's important in my personal life, and it's important in my professional life as well.
Perhaps the most compelling reason I work for EMC is that we collectively share the same values -- both at an individual level and at a corporate level. The things that I think are important are the exact same things my co-workers think are important, and our senior leadership think are important.
That "value coherency" makes all the difference in my world with every passing year.
Would You Be Happy Here?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
If you're a confident and capable individual who understands their true value yet remains adaptive and flexible, and wants to work with other people who are the same way, I think the answer is decidedly "yes".
But not everyone meets that profile. Some people prefer to be loners. Or aren't confident. Or aren't adaptive and flexible. Or want to play political games. Or pursue their personal agendas.
That's OK -- there are plenty of other good companies to go work for.
But, for many of us, EMC is a rather special place. And we wouldn't easily trade it for something else.