Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Best place to work? You bet!

True story about working at NetApp. Names changed arbitrarily. "Bob" was an intern with us last summer; he shared an office with me (still does). At the end of the summer, our boss, "Ingrid," told me we could hire a new college grad. Should Bob come on full-time after graduation (December)?

"Sure!" I said. He performed well during the summer -- not like a seasoned veteran, but like a promising young intern.

Ingrid made the offer and Bob accepted. He helped Ingrid out a number of times with reports and websites and such, while learning a whole bunch of stuff, including Python. He did some programming tasks that I really would never have gotten around to, and we were able to deliver a fuller set of services to the product developers. In particular, Bob came up with a cool way to provide a service the developers have wanted for quite a while, and put it into production last week. It's fast, too -- faster than the rest of us thought it could be.

Yesterday, June 1, one of the developers emailed Bob (I was cc'd). The new capability Bob coded up? It worked great!

Now for the fun part. NetApp's Vice Chairman, Tom, has an open offer out: "Catch someone doing something right," he said, "and tell me about it. I'll call that person and thank them." So I emailed Tom last night:
To: Vice Chairman Tom
Subject: Caught this guy doing something right!
Date: Mon Jun 1 19:19:59 PDT 2009

Hi Tom,

Bob is a young guy, been with us just over a year (the first 6 months as an intern, some of that being part-time). Our developers had been asking for the capability to (technical details elided) Though he's been with us this short time, he figured out a way to provide this capability, and as you can see from the below, a happy (internal) customer also expressed his appreciation.

btw "only took 2 minutes" is contrasted with "waiting a few hours after the nightly build" so this is a huge plus for our developers. If you're still making those phone calls, I'm sure it would mean a whole lot to him.

Bob's extension number is: XXXX


--- Original message ---
From: <Joe.Developer@netapp.com>
To: Bob
cc: <elided>
Subject: re: quick <elided> capability

It works really well. Only took 2 mins to check (technical details elided)....

Now we have a way to ensure the fix really works before checkin.
Thanks a lot, Bob

Mid-morning, the phone rang. Bob didn't recognize the number. It was local, though, so he picked it up. I overheard the conversation (Tom's voice carries, even on the phone).
Bob: Hello?

Tom: Hi, Bob? This is Tom M______. How ya doin'? (Bob looked quite surprised.)

Bob: Uh, fine.

Tom: Hey, I just got a message from Collin Park telling me that you provided a way for developers to (technical details elided)... Very cool. How long you been with us?

The whole thing was maybe a minute or two, but Bob had this gigantic smile on his face afterwards.

A minute or two later, I got an email back from Tom. "Just spoke to Bob... thanks for bringing that to my attention."

You know, the only reason I would ever want to be a big-time manager or VP or anything would be so I could make phone calls like that. What a kick in the pants! I think Bob was smiling the rest of the day.

NetApp's not perfect; it is, however, a great place to work. How many other companies have a big-time executive willing to call a one-year employee on some random person's recommendation?

I love this company!

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