This blog is the first in a series profiling NetApp’s February 2018 Living Our Values (LOV) Award winners. The most pervasive culture awards that any NetApp employee can receive are the Living Our Values (LOV) Awards, which are peer-nominated and peer-judged. These semiannual awards recognize three winners and up to six honorable mentions worldwide, who embody the company values. Ingrained into day-to-day work and conversation, NetApp’s seven values are: Leadership, Trust & Integrity, Simplicity, Adaptability, Teamwork & Synergy, Go Beyond and Get Things Done. Each winner is brought to Sunnyvale for a Company All Hands, where they are thanked by the CEO and featured on the live stream. NetApp also gives a gift of $5,000 in each winner’s name to the charity of their choice. This series begins with a profile of Seeba Mohan, APACs Region LOV winner.
You should have heard the cheer that went up here in RTP when your name was announced. VERY WELL DESERVED!!!! –Drew Turner, Senior Technical Program Manager, NetApp
After receiving the February 2018 Living Our Values (LOV) Award for APAC, Customer Support Services Program Manager Seeba Mohan was catching up on emails with messages like the one from Drew, who is a senior technical program manager in RTP. Seeing hundreds of congratulations from her extended team Customer Support Delivery (CSD) flooding her inbox, she says that happy tears filled her eyes. CSD extends across Bangalore, Amsterdam, China and the Americas—and many of its members watched Seeba accept the award from George Kurian onstage in Sunnyvale at the companywide All Hands. Seeba says she that before the All Hands, she never realized that so many people felt such a connection to her and her work.
A self-described “people person,” Seeba spent the time before and after All Hands connecting with dozens of employees, including fellow adventure-sport lover and new SVP and GM, Cloud Infrastructure BU, Brad Anderson, who chatted with her about cool places to bungee-jump. And, as she later made her way across the third floor of Building 1 in Sunnyvale to a post-All Hands video session, employees she had never previously met poured out of their cubes to shake her hand and congratulate her. She describes all these experiences as “absolutely magical.”
“In just a few quick minutes, I made such amazing connections; it shows our culture values us as people,” she says. “I feel so honored because my peers and my team valued me enough to nominate me for a LOV award. It’s the highest honor I have achieved in my 12-year career at NetApp.”
Living the values with customers
Seeba’s career path at NetApp began at the front lines of phone support. She joined the company as a Customer Support Representative (CSR), then worked as a Logistics Specialist, later moving on to the role of project coordinator and, most recently, Program Manager for CSR Readiness and Global Support Logistics.
Seeba sees Teamwork and Synergy as the most relevant company value for the challenges of her role. “You can be a great achiever and be the best at what you do, but if you lack teamwork, your team and your organization won’t succeed,” she says. “I work with ‘one team.’ We’re all in different parts of the world, but we definitely have to help each other and ensure we’re all on the same page.”
One of Seeba’s greatest challenges remains educating and inspiring support staff to embody the NetApp culture and values in their interactions with customers and to communicate clearly and professionally to them. In many call centers CSRs are rewarded for the speed with which they close cases—and penalized for taking the time to ask their team for help with challenging customer issues or making the customer’s experience more positive. Many CSRs, Seeba says, have a “fear of interacting freely with the client.”
“NetApp culture is about customers being satisfied and quality of service–not just closing tickets or showing numbers,” says Seeba. “We bring these new CSRs to NetApp and show them our values and our culture as a part of the training we give them. I also make sure they know that if they need help at any time, they can connect with me and I will get them help; I have to be there for them.”
Nominators say that Seeba’s ability as a leader who forges connections permeates her work with other teams as well as with the new CSRs. “Acting as a bridge between the client and vendor processes…she melted the ice and inspired cross team synergy,” says a nominator. “She played a major part in developing cross-functional roles, led the team through process training and helped the team with great knowledge sharing and growth.”
Nominators also called out other attributes that made Seeba a February 2018 LOV winner—her willingness to field challenging calls and her dedication to connecting with and educating customers.
Any acts, large or small, can win a LOV Award
Seeba is happy that receiving the LOV award allows her to have an impact on others. She describes NetApp’s $5,000 gift to a charity in her name as the “icing on the cake” of her LOV Award experience. A monthly contributor to Save the Children India, she wanted the $5,000 donation to go to this agency that helps children who lack the opportunity for an education and who need the basic necessities such as healthcare. Save the Children also aids children affected by natural disasters.
“Sometimes a small thank you, just spending 5 or 10 minutes to appreciate somebody, goes a very long way,” she says. “If it’s a LOV nomination, that small gesture could really make someone’s career.”