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Charting a powerful new path

Celebrating the STEMinists of NetApp: Gabie Boko

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Gabie Boko
Gabie Boko

In a universe of competitors—in a space that some might say is languishing—it’s unusual to find a high-growth company like NetApp®. That growth narrative is what drew me to the Senior VP of Portfolio Management   role, and I couldn’t have asked for a better time to be here. This company is like a rocket ship, and I just had to be a part of its journey!

Charting a new course

Taking on any new role is a risk. But I love risk. I embrace it. It’s embedded in my nature, and I don’t feel alive or challenged if there isn’t some level of risk to whatever I’m taking on.

One of the reasons I’m attracted to technology in general is because it offers the opportunity to take risks: to get ahead of the curve and chart a course for others to follow. I’ve built my career on staying ahead of change and managing transformation in any space. Whether it’s digital, marketing, or technology, I like being on the edge of something, being able to turn around and say, “Is anybody following me? What do I need to do to bring people along?”

Risk can and should be part of everybody’s game plan. It allows you to create friction, to test, to move, to find a way forward. That being said, before you embark on any journey, you absolutely need data. I’m a bit of a data geek, so although I embrace risk and understand its value, I believe that every risk must be vetted through data. You need that balance.

Navigating change

We operate in an environment that’s always changing. Change is one of the reasons there is so much inherent risk, but it’s a mistake to try to control that change. I try to approach change with an open and flexible stance and say, “Okay, I’m doing the right thing, so I’m going to double down on that.” Or maybe you see somebody else who’s doing the right thing and you want to double down with them. Or maybe you’re missing it entirely, and you need to pivot. Focusing a lens on what you’re doing and on what everyone else is doing creates a powerful basis for collaboration.

Collaboration is such an exciting part of NetApp culture. The kind of synergetic innovation I’ve found here is exactly what you hope to find anytime you go through a job search. In the short time I’ve been with NetApp, I’ve had such interesting and fruitful dialogs  that I feel like we’ve achieved an entirely new level of collaboration—the kind of culture that I want for myself, my teams, my colleagues, and my peers.

A foundation for any effective IT infrastructure is data availability that incorporates high levels of redundancy, such as redundant controllers, power supplies, ports, networking, and cabling. These redundancies address the obvious requirements of keeping systems online to run applications and serve data in case of a component failure. Closely tied to data availability is data redundancy, which can include the mirroring of data to a local or remote system, either asynchronously or synchronously, depending on the level of recovery required. Mirroring protects against rack or site failures as well as natural disasters.

Closely related to data availability is data recovery. Backup and archive technologies are used to create and store copies of data to protect against the threat of accidental data deletion, malware attacks, and application corruption, or to address the requirements for data retention by standards bodies or government agencies.

Creating a whole new map

Our customers are an important part of that community and culture. When you move from one company to another, it’s important to get to know your customers and to build those new relationships. It’s something that I look forward to—I can’t wait to meet our community of partners and customers in person and help shape the future with them.

I was hired to create something for NetApp: something that’s—I wouldn’t say different, but rather, evolving. I want to create a roadmap of that evolution and provide it in such a way that our customers, market partners, and analysts can see where we’re going, not just from an engineering perspective, but from the perspective of our ongoing story—of NetApp’s growing portfolio of services.

All of our customers are wrestling with some form of disruption and transformation. Our portfolio is designed to help them be more successful. We want to be a part of every transformation, every optimization, and every project in which we can add value. But first, we have to listen. We have to make sure that we understand our customers’ unique challenges and that they understand our point of view. So, to the customers whom I haven’t met yet, I say, “I can’t wait to meet you. I’m excited to share this evolving roadmap with you, I’m excited to get your feedback, and I’m excited to be on this journey with you.”

Coming in loud and clear

Cultivating relationships in any community means being authentic and being honest. Most important, it means trusting your own voice. Trust what you want to say and find the moments to say it, either privately or in a meeting room. Whether it’s asking a question, sharing an idea, or responding to somebody else’s idea, don’t be afraid to use your voice.

It’s not often that you get the opportunity to be in a room where you can add value and make a difference. So, every time you find yourself there, take advantage of it to speak up. Your ideas and your experience matter. 

We’re all on this journey together

Your input is invaluable because it’s based on the collection of learning experiences you’ve gained from every interaction you’ve ever had. My mother is my number one role model and there’s a little bit of her, of every woman I’ve encountered, of every friend I’ve ever worked with, in everything I do.

As a community, women must actively connect and collaborate; we must learn from one another and support one another. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to the smart and open-minded men who have helped break down barriers for the women who have influenced me.

The journey is the destination

So, what is success? 

Success is me, right here, right now, taking advantage of the time I’ve got, to deliver my best, build the strongest relationships, and take on every adventure I can.

That is success.

Learn more about NetApp’s team of cloud storage specialists and how they can help your company unleash the power of data to build, transform, and optimize for today—and tomorrow.

Gabie Boko

Gabie Boko is the Chief Marketing Officer at NetApp. She has spent over 22 years in the technology industry and led transformations in senior marketing roles for companies including Cognos, SAP, Sage and HPE. Her experience has focused on connecting customer success to innovative experiences in software applications and cloud services, digital marketing and websites, customer storytelling, product UX and events. Born and raised in Alaska, Ms. Boko is an avid outdoors person, wildlife photographer and advocate for protecting our natural resources and rural communities.

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