thomaspodium-oct16-2This week on GovDataDownload we had the pleasure of sitting down with Thomas Stanley, SVP and GM Americas at NetApp, who shared with us his personal story of the fight against Alzheimer’s. Over the years, Thomas witnessed both direct relatives and in-laws battle the disease. As he experienced firsthand the toll that the disease can take on families, caregivers, and loved ones, he decided to take matters into his own hands and began supporting the Alzheimer’s Association through his participation with the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in both Virginia and D.C. As Thomas says, “the mind is a terrible thing to waste, and it’s also a terrible thing to lose.” Continue reading to find out more about Thomas’ work with the Alzheimer’s Association and how you can get involved.

GovDataDownload (GDD): Can you tell us a little bit about your role at NetApp? What do you like most about your job?

Thomas Stanley (TS): As SVP and GM of Americas at NetApp, I lead a combination of Commercial and Public Sector teams which translates to a little over 50% of the business NetApp does around the globe. I’ve been with NetApp for the past ten years and one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most is that as a company, we’ve always been at the forefront of technology and have prided ourselves at doing things to scale. One of the most interesting things about this role is that I have found that the challenges that the Public Sector and Commercial markets face are really not that unique. All are trying to do more with less; to go to market with new, efficient solutions as quickly as possible that solve their problems.

GovDataDownload (GDD): We heard you have a personal story as it relates to Alzheimer’s. Can you tell us about that?

Thomas Stanley (TS): Growing up, I lost two grandparents and several aunts and uncles to Alzheimer’s. At that time there was not a lot of awareness around the disease, especially in rural North Carolina. A few years ago, after my father-in-law retired he became struck with the illness as well. It impacted me very differently as an adult, not only to see my wife go from being a caregiver to our children to taking care of her father, but also to see that there were warning signs of the disease that we did not necessarily realize in it’s earliest stages. My hope is that the work we continue to do with the Alzheimer’s Association brings greater awareness to this devastating illness, and that one day we will live in a world free from it.

GovDataDownload (GDD): Can you tell us about your work with the Alzheimer’s Association and your participation in the welcome ceremony for the Washington DC walk on Oct 8th?

Thomas Stanley (TS): I originally began supporting the Alzheimer’s Association after losing my father-in-law a few years ago. After finding out that NetApp U.S. Public Sector (USPS) was a sponsor for the Alzheimer’s Walk in Reston, I began participating on behalf of the company. This year, NetApp USPS also sponsored the DC walk for the first time, and I was nominated as the chairperson. It was an honor participating in the welcome ceremony for the Washington DC walk.  It was moving for me, both on a personal and professional level to be a part of something greater that is positively impacting people’s lives. I’m proud to work for a company that takes so much pride in serving our customers, partners, and community.

GovDataDownload (GDD): We heard you’ve put together an important fundraiser that’s coming up in December. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Thomas Stanley (TS): The fundraiser that’s taking place on Tuesday, December 20th is an extension of the goal we had established for our team to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. We’re aiming to raise $50,000, and to help us meet this goal, we will be hosting a holiday reception at the Tower Club in Vienna, Virginia where we are inviting everyone to wear their best pop of purple. For those who cannot attend the event but would still like to donate to the team, you can do so here.

GovDataDownload (GDD): Anything else you’d like to share?

Thomas Stanley (TS): We are starting to find that Alzheimer’s is not just an ‘old person’s’ disease anymore. There are a number of people in the workforce now that are dealing with early stages of the disease, both personally and as caregivers. After we began talking about Alzheimer’s openly at work, I was surprised by the amount of folks that responded to me with their own stories. I think the fact that I am a leader who is willing to speak up about the illness and share my personal story has made others feel safe sharing theirs, and I hope people continue to feel that they can talk openly about it.