I recently connected with Betsy Sutter, SVP of People at VMware, and learned about her dynamic journey since the early days of VMware to present.
My conversation with Betsy left me looking forward to what’s next for the company, technology and our people. Read on to learn more.
How would you describe what you do at VMware?
I believe that people flourish and do their best work in an environment where there is choice and flexibility. As we continue this journey, the work landscape is becoming more mobile, hybrid, and complex. My role is to lead, advocate and support meaningful, seamless and integrated employee experiences that make sense in this new world. VMware is about creating a culture where talented people thrive in being part of what’s next, together – and have fun while making an impact.
I am also on the Board of the VMware Foundation – something I am very proud of because the work of the Foundation reflects how we are all connected and that building a thriving community together depends on the collective contributions of our incredible people through citizen philanthropy. Celebrating ‘giving back together’ is now a global tradition at VMware and speaks even more to what makes us unique. During our Gratitude campaign in December, VMware people were encouraged to express themselves on gratitude walls, learn about the science of gratitude with leading researcher in the field with Dr. Emmons and recognize each other during the holidays and beyond. It was a great time for us to come together and expand the spirit of community.
I’m seeing some fun posts by employees in the theme of being “Architects of What’s Next”. How did you complete your fill-in-the-blank mug — What’s next?
I love the Architects of What’s Next campaign. It speaks to me of how I think of VMware, in our desire to live on the bleeding edge of innovation and our ability to be the most creative and imaginative game in town. My mug says, “CARING about WHAT’S NEXT!” If you want to better understand how deeply I care, come and talk to me.
You’ve seen a lot and navigated the people aspect of VMware for more than a decade. If possible, can you choose one memorable moment to share with us?
I can remember being on a business trip to Cork, Ireland in September 2011 when the extension of the campus and the opening of “Behan House” was taking place. There were distinguished guests such as the Minister for Jobs, the Cork County Mayor, and our own Maurizio Carli in attendance while John Dolan and team hosted the day – which included a ton of press and media analysts! It was all very exciting. And being able to watch and participate in our Ireland employee’s celebration of VMware’s fantastic story of success and growth in Cork was wonderful. But it was the graciousness, passion, and pride each and every employee had about both the milestone and the day that made a huge and memorable imprint on me.
I also have a wonderful memory of being able to attend the VMware Shanghai R&D Center’s first Charity Day in October 2012. The employees and the Foundation team were establishing an annual event to encourage all the employees to learn from and interact with external NGOs and charities. The employees were encouraged to bring families, kids and friends to the Charity Fair. I was inspired by the amount of energy, the incredible interest, participation and passion that exuded that day. It further validated the importance of the VMware Foundation’s unique approach and that it is appreciated by our people around the world.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love long-distance running. And I passionately enjoy marathons. What I like most is the preparation and strategy required – both in mind and body. I usually over-prepare by pacing myself at the beginning and finishing strong at the end. Marathon running has taught me the importance of preparation, endurance and having strong follow-through. I take this approach throughout my personal and professional life too. Recently, I completed a run with my daughter. It was such a great feeling to do it with my family!
Do you have a thought leader or person you admire in your field or industry? Who and why?
I continue to admire Diane Greene who was one of the founders and first CEO of VMware. She was fierce about building great technology and a strong culture – and she did it. VMware’s culture continues today because of the strong and connected underpinnings Diane put in place. She grew the business to $0 to $1b and I am not aware of any other founder female CEO who has done that. She was courageous and independent in her thinking and her choices. And while she had a strong exterior, she was thoughtful and generous with things she cared deeply about. She showed me what it meant to stay true to one’s own guiding principles, the importance of being self-aware, not to be afraid to tackle really thorny problems (like entrenched mindsets and fierce competitors) and to think broadly, systemically, comprehensive and differently about the things one does.
You’ve been here almost from the beginning of VMware! How has VMware changed and grown? What remains the same?
I have been here a long time – since there were 150 employees! As I look back, and look forward, it’s clear to me that our values provide the foundation for our success. What remains the same about VMware is that HOW we do our work is as important as WHAT we do. This shows up in our values, which we recently refreshed. We wanted to ensure that they would help us shape the next decade of leadership so we engaged our employees and leaders in dialogue. It was great to get everyone involved and hear especially from our most passionate advocates.
As I think about our values – execution, passion, integrity, customers and community – the one that has grown and evolved is community. When I think of community, I’m also considering how our ever-changing world evolves. Our new world delivers the opportunity to readily harness the energy and input of our talented employees through global, mobile and social ways. For example, we use our own internal social network on Socialcast frequently to gather comments, have conversation and share news. Whether it is Socialcast or some other means, we seek dialog that is interactive, real time and holistic – one that embraces community.
“Architects of What’s Next” is about our talented community of people – what fuels them and why they are driven to make an impact. It’s about valuing our people today and attracting the talent of the future. As we kick off the New Year, can you share what’s next for you at VMware?
I am more excited about this lap of VMware’s journey than I have ever been before. It is a more complex, more challenging and honestly, a more interesting time in the industry. We have world-class talent at every level in the company and we are more focused on executing at a higher level. I really love having to raise my game. And developing people strategies and creating programs and platforms for our employees that also help differentiate us as a company, is a passion of mine. I know that together we are going to accomplish more greatness and continue to lead the industry in 2014.
Hats off to a new year! Let’s all work together to architect what’s next.
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