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June 09, 2009


exEMC Cons

Carefully read Joe's letter. I hope that Data Domain staffers aren't so easily fooled. It's no secret that EMC has recently (and in many times in the past) laid-off significant numbers of staff and this time has asked those that stay on to take a 15% pay cut.

I do understand that the shareholders like Joe's approach, but it can be very uncomfortable for those that are asked to bear the brunt of earlier expansionary strategies.

Chuck Hollis

Hi whoever you are ...

We all carefully have read Joe's letter, and I think we came to different conclusions than you did.

In the spirit of reading carefully, please note that we all have signed up for a 5% reduction (not 15%), and the 'significant numbers' of reductions are really quite modest in the context of the more draconian staff reductions with others in our industry, including NetApp.

Where I disagree most is your characterization of "bear the brunt of earlier expansionist strategies".

Most of us who work here feel precisely the opposite -- we are the beneficiaries of earlier strategies, and not victims.

Indeed, one of the criticisms being leveled at NetApp is that they've largely botched most of their acquisitions, and -- well -- EMC hasn't.

I also will point out that your opinions will tend to carry more weight if you believe in yourself enough to actually disclose who you might be, your affiliations, etc.

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck

exEMC Cons


Thank you for not deleting my post and commenting diplomatically. I am a former EMC staffer. I have worked in the systems integration space for over 20 years and with an excellent reputation. Prior to joining EMC, I had worked on DMX's for several large customers with a systems integrator.

Thought that working for EMC would be a great career step. I accepted a short-term salary cut in order to get my foot in the door. I found myself doing one un-challenging residency after another. Having to pay all my expenses and waiting to get them reimbursed. My previous employer would pay an advance for extended out of town trips. The promised advancement didn't take place and when the going got tough I was out on the street again.

I have since found employment with another systems integrator and since I work in a city where everyone in the SAN space knows everyone it would be a career limiting move to publish my real identity. Some of my friends still work at EMC and are content to do so. That's where I get my up to date news from. And I still read your blog.

With all due respect, you and your blog was one of the reasons I wanted to work for EMC, your life at the upper echelons of the company doesn't expose you to the realities of working in the trenches of your own company. If the leopard were to change its spots I wouldn't reject a change to re-join the pride.

Chuck Hollis

exEMC Cons

I know that working as a resident at EMC can be very unchallenging for some. I do meet people who like the work, and I meet others like you who were unsatisfied by it.

I'm glad you were able to find a role elsewhere that suited you and provided you with more challenges.

I would offer that perhaps the specific role you agreed to take had a lot to do with your impressions and experiences at EMC. And I would encourage you not judge an entire company (30,000+ employees around the globe) by your unsatisfactory experience.

Like any company, though, we always have room to improve. In particular, the great demand for skilled residents such as yourself creates a new, unmet challenge in making the work rewarding and stiumlating rather than repetitive.

You may have triggered an interesting discussion here, based on your comments, as so often happens.

Thanks for sharing ...

135 Parkwood

Another former EMCer here. I, too, congratulate Chuck on allowing these kinds of comments to be public and for his level-headed responses! It’s a very positive sign.
I worked for nearly a decade at EMC before leaving about a year ago to go after other opportunities (no, I was not fired and do not have an axe to grind). EMC is a great place to work if you want to feel safe, blend into the masses, avoid challenges and get a dependable paycheck. If you are a big dreamer and a big ideas person, you have almost no chance of being happy at EMC. I know it didn't used to be that way. I know there are exceptions to what I'm saying.

Just look at all of the "best places to work" lists that EMC used to dominate. For several years now EMC can't even get on the local list of best places to work. That's because EMC has become everything that it's trying so hard to tell the world (and Data Domain) that they are not. Heck, EMC has stopped doing the annual employee motivation survey, after several years of declining rates. I know for a fact that was stopped because the bad scores were getting out and being used against EMC’s efforts to buy new companies.

I'm not even saying it's a problem. I think it's almost by design. Joe and the board have decided to go the route of rapid growth via acquisition. Some have worked better than others, but there are now layers upon layers or redundant management, which has the effect of driving away the truly great ones and making the mediocre ones fight for turf. That almost always means new ideas are seen as threats.

I still have a lot of friends at EMC and they virtually all feel the same way: They have kids in school, can’t afford to take a risk, and find EMC to be mind-numbing. They know that the less the draw attention to themselves and the fewer ideas they raise, the longer they will be at EMC and the faster they will be promoted.
For what it's worth.

Chuck Hollis

Hello 135 Parkwood

I applaud you for sharing your thoughts, but there are a few incorrect statements.

First, if you just want to shuffle along and get your paycheck, this is most definitely NOT the place to work.

EMC is on several dozen "best places to work" lists. Not that any of that matters (most of it can be easily gamed if you bring your checkbook), but the statement was incorrect.

EMC does its employee satisfaction survey every year -- we've just kicked off this year's. As a manager here, I can vouch for the fact that we are encouraged (and compensated) to take its results *very* seriously indeed -- this is not wallpaper.

I disagree with your characterization of redundant management and isolation discouraging ideas. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It makes me believe you have a picture you feel like painting, irrespective of the facts.

As an example, we're about to run our third global Innovation Conference. Last year, there were over 4,000 submissions. I was part of the judging panel that had to come up with the top 10, and then we opened it up to a vote.

Several hundred of the ideas presented found their way into products, services or other business innovations we're using today. It's an integral part of our culture, and has been for a while.

The fact that you (or anyone else) did not feel like participating in this program (or the many similar ones) I believe reflects more on you as an individual rather than the company.

And that would be my key point -- many companies are what you make of them. And I would put EMC in that category.

I encourage people not to blame the company, but to take a hard look in the mirror if they're not happy.

I have kids in school, mortgages, etc. and need a steady paycheck. That being said, I (and others) are continually encouraged to take risks. Not all of them work out, but we're encouraged to try and try again.

I hope you've found a working environment that suits your tastes these days.

Thanks for sharing!

135 Parkwood

Thanks again for the response.

The ESMS is done "every year? So there was one done in 2008?

I left before the end of Q3, but I got a memo last summer saying it was being postponed until the start of 2009 because of the need to focus on getting work done, or something like that. It was among the factors that made me decide to leave and it really upset a lot of people at the company because of all the talk about how important the ESMS is (when it's done).

The fact that layoffs, pay cuts and negative changes in vacation policy were also in the works was a coincidence? Same thing happened in 2001, by the way. So now it's halfway through 2009 and the ESMS is being kicked off.

Thta's good news if it's being brought back, but how can you say it's taken seriously if it's dropped -- or postponed for a year -- when times are bad?

Also, in my experience as a manager there, managers are not compensated based on results. They are goaled on whether they have a "plan" to deal with the feedback received. That plan is often to hold a meeting and ask if anyone has any questions or comments.

Getting those results to go up or down was not ever a goal, to my knowledge, as the rationalization was always that when results go down its external forces causing the drop and goals are supposed to be something that the employee or manager can control.

Chuck Hollis

With all due respect, 135 Parkwood, I think you're quibbling.

In a downturn, all focus is on the business.

We had to postpone a long list of important things last year that we all wanted to do, simply because we had to focus on the day-to-day business which was demanding our full attention. That doesn't mean that any of it wasn't important, it just that we were focusing on other things that were more important.

I cannot comment on individual manager's comp plans, only the ones I know about.

Look, you obviously have an axe to grind here. Fine, do what you feel you need to do.

Why not put your energy into something more positive?


I am compelled to reply to this board because I would like to balance some of the comments expressed before. I had also worked for EMC for about 4 years. Any company you work for will provide the good, the bad, and the ugly no matter what. Throughout my 30-year IT career, I have seen a lot of situations where you just not are happy with your particular lot in life at the moment. This doesn’t mean that whole organization is bad. Every company has issues and objectives to grapple with especially in tough economic times such as now. I left EMC just before they announced the layoffs because my personal situation required that I stop travelling for business so much. In fact, Joe's suspending of the scheduled layoffs was very encouraging.

Clearly, when you work for company, there are a lot of different people, some you like, some you don’t. EMC was not different from any other company that I had worked for previously. Rather, I felt that it had a lot better business model and work environment than some others I worked for in the past. Frankly, you are responsible for your own career track, whether you work for EMC or anyone else. You can expand your career if you are positively motivated and working at it no matter what. People seem to have this entitlement mentality where somebody needs to take care of their welfare. That’s just not how it works in the real world. You must make yourself stand out and be exemplary to others to advance your career within any organization.

I am sorry to hear the disappointments that have been expressed by some ex-EMCers here. However, I hope, as you consider the sentiments expressed by some of the clearly-frustrated folks, you keep in mind that it is up to the individual to figure out how to make his or her career work no matter what. It is no big surprise that those who haven’t figured this out have a lot of sour grapes to toss around. They need to blame someone else for their stalled career aspirations. They can’t just chalk it up to experience and recognize that not every person is a good fit for every company. It doesn’t mean that the company is bad or that they are bad. It means they weren’t able to thrive in that environment. It’s like they are roses trying to bloom in the desert—or maybe cactus trying to thrive in the rain forest—the environment isn’t bad, it’s just not the right environment for them.

Rather than blaming the company for their inability to advance, they needed to do exactly what they did—become ex-employees and find a better fit. In my experience, EMC definitely provided the opportunity to grow if you were sufficiently motivated and you were able to understand how to make your advancement goals come into line with the company goals. If you can’t do that, you are not a good fit for the company and it is not a good fit for you. Look, accept the fact that this shoe doesn’t fit, Cinderella. End of story. Move on.

Former EMCer Glad to be gone.

In 2001 EMC embarked on a journey led by "Joe" Tucci to become a $12 billion company. The recession of 2002, caused Joe to call a company meeting. Joe say he would have to reduce headcount due to "changing business conditions". He told the company at that time, that the people who were being let go were not at fault in any way. When business conditions improved, they would be the first recalled.
I was never recalled. None of my dozens of friends who were let go that day were ever recalled.
Joe lied. Portraying Joe as an honorable "people first" CEO is buying into a carefully cultivated mirage. It's BS.
He has his $12+ billion company now on the backs of mergers/acquisitions.

Chuck Hollis

Sorry, I'd have to disagree with you. Lots of people came back as the business improved, but there never was any guarantee that everyone would be invited back.

Anyone who's worked with Joe would disagree with your statement -- he is definitely a "people person".

Best of luck in your new pursuits!

-- Chuck

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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