Nutanix’s global workforce of over 5000 employees are learning to Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable - one of the organization’s newly developed Culture Principles. In this interview, Nutanix Director of People Development and Culture, Deep Mahajan, shares her experience of transforming and evolving the company’s culture
Tell us about Nutanix:
Nutanix is a global leader in cloud software and hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, making infrastructure invisible so that IT can focus on the applications and services that power their business. Companies around the world use Nutanix Enterprise Cloud software to bring one-click application management and mobility across public, private and distributed edge clouds so they can run any application at any scale with a dramatically lower total cost of ownership. The result is organizations that can rapidly deliver a high-performance IT environment on demand, giving application owners a true cloud-like experience. Learn more at www.nutanix.com or follow us on Twitter @nutanix.
Tell us a little bit about the transformation from being a hardware company to a software subscription company?
Our transition from hardware to software, and then from life-of-device licensing to a subscription licensing model, has few precedents. Because there was no playbook, we had to rely on the grit and tenacity of our workforce to navigate both the internal and external impact of the business transformation. As part of this transition, we introduced new product offerings, new pricing models, and adapted our go-to-market strategy and messaging. This required our entire company to recalibrate as a whole – starting from our engineering team who had to code new features, to our support organization who supports our existing customers, and to our sales organization who had to shift their go-to-market strategy and positioning to educate prospects on our business offerings.
How did this fundamental change in your business model affect your current workforce, as well as your recruitment strategies?
The impact on the current workforce involved the need to quickly grasp the change, learn new skills and adapt, without compromising performance, quality or velocity during the transition. That is no small feat and candidly, I was impressed with how quickly our company was able to pivot in light of our rapid transition to software and subscription. Our company has a history of navigating change and Nutanix employees use these experiences as opportunities to build. For example, being a private-turned-public company invited more demands around technical security and expanding of customer success initiatives. Additionally, our previous acquisitions have brought different skills and capabilities to our workforce. We’ve also been able to strategically focus our recruitment strategy towards hiring professionals who complement and close existing skill gaps in our already impressive workforce. All of this to say that I think the changes in the business have enabled us to build a stronger company as a result.
Explain how the transformation of your organizational culture affected the engagement and performance of your workforce.
Transformations of any nature – business or culture – are hard. They are not episodic in nature but more like journeys, where you start on one side and come out on the other. Short-term opportunity costs can sometimes be compromised when thinking about future success. Transformations may seem like a “shake-up” in the short term but if managed correctly, they ultimately make the company aligned and geared up towards a new mission. As long as there is clarity on the vision (“what” do we want to be and “why”) and sense of alignment (on purpose) then in the big scheme of things the ongoing transformation is the necessary “how”.
How has this change in organizational culture affected your business and the relationships with your clients?
We are proud that we thought about our cultural transformation in parallel with our business transformations. In that sense, our approach has been proactive and not reactive. Our 4 core values, Hungry, Humble, and Honest, with Heart, have held us together since the very beginning and they continue to remain firm and constant for us. In order to respond effectively to transformation, we needed a new set of clearly-articulated behaviors under each of the core values. These new behaviors are critical for our success. We recently defined our 12 Culture Principles which help us apply these values in the current context. Our proactive approach in identifying and communicating the principles internally and externally is helping us ease the impact of transformation while maintaining our client relationships.
What do you see in the future for your workforce, both from a strategy and a cultural perspective?
Strategy and Culture go hand and hand. Neither outweighs the other. In fact, if understood and applied in tandem, they become the key ingredients for the company’s overall (internal and external) success. Our goal is to continue making this connection between strategy and culture in applicable ways so that our leaders and employees get a clear view on how their individual actions are contributing to the delivery of company strategy and strengthening the company culture.