Our Meet the Hiring Manager series allows you to get to know the people who grow teams at VMware. You’ll learn about our hiring managers’ career paths and what they look for in candidates during the interview process. This week, we’d like you to meet and get to know Mark Van Oppen.
VMware Careers: Mark, tell us about your career journey to date?
Mark Van Oppen: My career started after graduation from the University of Redlands in southern California when I moved to Seattle to be close to family and seek a job in technology. In the early years of my career, I learned the industry by working in a traditional sales role; cold calling possible customers. My first two jobs focused on expense software and application management tools. The fateful change in focus came in 2013 when I started working with customers to adopt open source technology at Blue Box Group. At that time we were focused on OpenStack and delivering a path that embraced OSS for customers while providing enough opinion and guidance to support a strong service level agreement. After being acquired by IBM, I spent two years working as a Specialist but missed the energy of the start-up world. In 2017, I joined another start-up as one of the first non-engineers at Heptio. Heptio was founded around the Kubernetes project by two of the technology creators, and my job was to launch and scale the initial go-to-market function. A few years later, I joined VMware via acquisition where I advocated for Kubernetes technology among customers on the west coast. At the start of 2021, I took over leadership of the Global Accounts-West team for the Modern Application Platforms Business Unit (MAPBU). Today, I spend my time supporting my team while we work with ~50 of VMware’s largest customers to embrace a modern application strategy, and I genuinely love my job.
· VMware Careers: How is VMware different from any other tech company that you have worked for?
Mark Van Oppen: VMware is unique for many good reasons, but I’ll explain why I decided to bet on the company with my own career. VMware has figured out how to develop world-changing technology and take it to market while aligning to the company’s EPIC2 values that make employees proud. These values are evidenced in all major decision-making, and a consistent theme I see is empathy. We routinely seek feedback and actively update our priorities to better serve our customers and colleagues. It’s impressive to watch because the balance between culture and product is often difficult to get right. We aren’t perfect, but it gives me confidence to see executive decision-makers regularly take action based on feedback. Lately, VMware has proved our willingness to listen to customers by prioritizing and adopting a container strategy reliant on Open Source Software. This priority was embraced without abandoning the strategy that made VMware the dominant force in virtualization, and we have leaned into open standards and launched the most complete set of tools on the market to serve containers. I made the conscious decision to take a broader role in the company because I believe in our direction.
· VMware Careers: What has been the biggest lesson you have learned as you moved upwards in your career?
Mark Van Oppen: Without question, the biggest lesson I have learned is to never stop learning and stay flexible. In this industry, the very best don’t stop iterating on their perspective and skills. Sometimes that ongoing work is clearly visible, but often it is the little things that go unnoticed. One colleague in particular (Steve Tegeler) continually incorporates customer feedback and experience into his work to make the next customer experience better. The people that successfully embody this ongoing iteration based on feedback are the people I most admire. It takes persistence to continually get better but it pays off in confidence and outcomes the reverberate personally and professionally.
· VMware Careers: Your team is hiring. Can you tell us more about your organization’s charter?
Mark Van Oppen: The MAPBU (Modern Application Platforms Business Unit) is tasked with guiding our customers through the next major shift in infrastructure and application delivery. Specifically, containerization and microservice app design are gaining widespread adoption, and our team provides consulting and products to make this macro trend an asset within customer’s operations rather than an area of risk. This is one of my favorite conversations to have with customers and represents the out-sized share of the future in our customer’s digital strategy. This combo makes the MAPBU a really fun place to be! We’re hiring engineers (customer-facing and product-based) and always need top talent to help on the pre-sales and customer support teams.
· VMware Careers: If someone reading this was coming to interview with you tomorrow for a role on your team, what interview tips would you give them?
Mark Van Oppen: You don’t need to know everything, but if you can demonstrate how to approach a problem and gather the information needed, it will go well. A favorite saying internally is that we create “strong opinions that are loosely held;” this means that we hold opinions to help our customers accomplish an outcome but are not afraid to change that opinion as more data and information become available or the market changes. We are eager to listen to team members who present new points of view and make us better.
Could you see yourself working for a leader like Mark? Check out some of the open roles in the MAPBU Organization and apply today!
Staff Solutions Engineer
Field Sales, Wavefront Specialist
Solutions Engineer – Java/Spring
Tanzu Staff Solutions Engineer – MAPBU – Alliances
Staff Solutions Engineer
Commercial Account Executive
Customer Success Manager
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