You might think that after nearly 25 years with an organization that you might be a little jaded, or be tempted to just go through the motions at work. But, after talking to Tom Mendoza, NetApp’s Vice Chairman, we found that for him nothing could be further from the truth.
From his early days at the company as Vice President of U.S. Sales, to his tenure as President, and into his current role as Vice Chairman, Mendoza has maintained an enthusiasm for the organization, its people, and its data driven mission that shows no signs of dimming. “I’ve been fortunate to be part of an organization that understands its success lies with its people and a commitment to embracing change,” Mendoza told us after he was received the Trace3 Outlier Lifetime Achievement Award in late May.
“Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Tom shared. “This award is not about individual success; it’s a team award. Every time we accomplish something great, it’s about team – both the team at work and the one at home.”
For Mendoza being part of a team enables the type of thinking that allows innovation to thrive, which in turn, has allowed NetApp to be part of an elite group of companies listed on the NASDAQ to make it to their 25th anniversary. “A few years ago when we celebrated our 20th year of being public, a senior NASDAQ executive told me that fewer than 15 percent of companies listed on the NASDAQ have ever made their 20th anniversaries,” he commented, “and here we are marking NetApp’s 25th anniversary this summer.”
The company that is celebrating its 25th anniversary bares only a passing resemblance to the data storage company that was founded in San Jose in 1992. The tech sector enabled the company to thrive almost immediately because they recognized the benefits of network attached storage, and demonstrated to other industries why this type of storage was essential for their growth. When the dotcom boom happened in the late 1990s, NetApp was the vendor of choice for many of the world’s largest internet providers and grew from $250 million to $1 billion in revenue in two years
Then the dotcom bubble burst. “Many thought that NetApp would fail as its key customers slowed their technology purchases, but it was our culture and our embrace of innovation that allowed us to survive and eventually thrive,” Mendoza reflected. And indeed NetApp did thrive; first, by successfully bringing innovation to the storage of mission critical apps in the enterprise, and then in helping customers move to the cloud. Now NetApp is focused on becoming the leading provider of data management solutions that enable customers to put their data to work, no matter where or how it is stored, to solve the critical problems faced today in healthcare, research, education, government, and business.
“Our ability as a team to embrace change makes me proud,” said Tom. “Many organizations flounder when they hit warp speed, or face monumental challenges. But our company culture where we’re committed to celebrating successes together and inspiring each other in the darkness, makes us not only strong, but resilient.”
As to what comes next, for NetApp Mendoza sees a steady drum beat of change that he and the team are ready for. “The future is all about data, but the conversations we’re having with CIOs are not about where you store data, but how you enable data to move,” he said. Mendoza went on to share that it’s no longer important whether or not you own storage assets, but it is important that you can control your data’s movement between environments and do it safely and securely.
“Having a conversation with CIOs, identifying the solution to a problem they were convinced didn’t have a solution, and then being able to introduce them to our team who can put their vision into action, is truly rewarding work. It’s the kind of work that keeps me coming back to NetApp day after day, year after year.”