I had the opportunity to attend Delphix‘s Company Kick Off last week in San Francisco. This was my first time at an event of this nature and it was incredibly successful. As Delphix had just promoted Adam Bowen and me to the Office of CTO, along with promoting Eric Schrock to the CTO position, I was in an enviable position, but not just because of the role change.
For some reason, my badge stated I was in Product Management, (I wasn’t) and as I was transitioning from my previous role in Technical Product Marketing, (I was the full-on techie on the team.) I now belonged to a group that hadn’t existed when they planned the event. I decided to become a “free agent” for the week and took advantage of not belonging in anyone. As the company split into their designated groups- Sales, Engineering and Professional Services, I started to move between the department events. This resulted in some incredible perspectives on our company and why the diversity of the roles and groups serve the company as a whole.
Doing the Kick Off
First off- kudos to the entire marketing team for the event. It was incredibly well done. The venue and location was excellent. Having everyone in one place, considering how many of us are remote, really made a huge difference. All of this had to be coordinated- event, people, travel, content and commonly three separate events stitched into one! As a remote employee, it was great to finally put faces to names. Networking, community and social events gave us more than enough time to get to know those we only knew virtually and even in three days, I felt more connected to the teams.
The company kick off started with a talk from John Foley, the Blue Angels pilot, who discussed his Glad to be Here movement, (#gladtobehere). It was very inspirational and I added significant knowledge in the value of the feedback phase of projects, which I believe is a weakness in me as a mentor. Our CEO Chris Cook and others from the C-Level then presented Delphix goals for the next year in a very energized way that provided unification of focus for all of us. With our heads filled with a full picture of where we were headed, we sat down to a dinner and the big company party to follow.
Shout Out to the Cool Kids
What did I learn that I may not have known before? That our CEO, Chris Cook is really fantastic. He knows the business, is very personable and took the time to visit with as many Delphixers as he could during the week. He’s also not afraid to have fun and knows that downtime is essential to a healthy work environment.
Our CEO, Chris Cook, reliving the 80’s for our Company Kick Off party. I look like I’m signing for someone to call me. The 80’s were not my best years… 🙂
The company message was on point, “Delphix moves data at the speed of business.” As a DBA, I understand how long the database has been viewed as the bottleneck and to remove this through virtualization is incredibly powerful.
I learned that we have a very clear vision of where we are starting to fit with the huge direction change for many businesses. With so many companies migrating to the cloud and so many others that claim to do what we do, (very rarely and even more rare, do it successfully.) I started to recognize how all of our groups fit together. We are all moving parts that are necessary to make Delphix the success it is.
Delphix’s CFO, Stewart Grierson and Chris Cook on Stage at the CKO
For me, the free agent, it was shocking to go from the buzz and big lights of the Sales/Pre-sales Kick off, to the very personalized interaction of the Professional Services, to the quiet, small groups at the hackathon for Engineering. I’m a very adaptable personality, but admit that I’m more introverted than most people realize. I’m drained by loud events and need to re-energize with downtime when I get the chance, so this bouncing from space to space, (each with their own different vibe) really worked well for me.
The week I learned about how much our sales staff does- how many regions are handled by so few people and how much they accomplish with the help of some awesome pre-sales folks! You also get to find out how your contributions make an impact. Content you produced that you thought was just gathering dust, someone takes the time to thank you and tell you how vital it is to their day to day job.
I discovered how the Professional Services, (PS) team closely works with those that provide our documentation and community support. Where Sales was all about recognizing what had been accomplished this year, PS was looking to the year ahead and how they would solve some of the critical challenges. Sitting in granted me the opportunity to proudly hear the announcement of my husband’s promotion to Technical Manager in the Professional Services group. It also gave me a chance to visit with my old friend and co-author Leighton Nelson, who is doing fantastic work in Steve Karam’s group.
Getting My Geek On
On breakfast the last day, I happened to sit down with the engineers. I’ve become accustomed to speaking over everyone’s head in marketing these days, so it was this odd sense of relief as I listened and discussed some of the interesting ways this group was taking on syntax differences between the languages being utilized in our product. We chatted about Intellij, Python and Oracle Cloud complexities and the hackathon that was going on in their group for the day. When I sat in the Engineering group’s kick off later on, I was granted the opportunity to speak to Nathan Jolly, a SQL Server DBA at Delphix that I’ve only had the pleasure of speaking to in meetings. He’s on our Australian team and there aren’t many opportunities to be in the same timezone.
Quieter than in the party, people chat it up
The quiet was also a nice break after evenings filled with great food, conversations and company. The party was the first night, but each evening brought more dinners and community events, (I was part of a group that assembled over 40 wheelchairs for charity!) and the last evening, I ended up closing down the bar with a group that [somehow] talked me into an arm wrestling match. Now, as many know, I have about a good week at low altitude where I’m taking advantage of the extra oxygen. This results in little impact from alcohol and for the particular evening, me winning an arm wrestling match against one of the guys. Nothing more needs to be said about this outside of me refusing to give up and that both my elbows are bruised from the match.
A Successful Preparation for the Upcoming Year
I may be speaking for the rest of the teams, but I left with renewed energy, direction and connection to this great company we call Delphix. I am amazed at how much we’ve grown and changed in just the 9 months I’ve been here and look forward to the upcoming year. I have no doubt 2018’s kick off will be just as awesome and that we’ll need a bigger venue to hold all the new employees!
I quickly put together a scrapbook video story of my pictures, enjoy! March is also a busy month for events, both Oracle and SQL Server. Here’s where I’ll be this month:
March 8th: IOUG Town hall webinar
March 13th: UTOUG Training Days, Salt Lake City, UT.
March 18th: Iceland SQL Saturday, Reykjavik, Iceland
March 28th: Colorado SQL Saturday, Colorado Springs, CO