Celebrating the STEMinists of NetApp: Phoebe Goh
In every role I’ve taken on, from professional services to cloud architect, and now, as a principal architect at NetApp®, I consider myself to be first and foremost a communicator.
When I see a problem—or even a potential problem—the first thing I want to do is get everybody together so we can talk about the situation and try to understand it. Everyone sees things from a unique perspective, and sharing those perspectives—sharing our stories around the problem—allows us to find the best solution for everyone involved.
If we’re all aiming for the same goals, and we keep the lines of communication open, then—as problems change and solutions need to be adjusted—we can share insights and move forward together. This is what will get us to the best solution, whether for an internal issue, a customer problem, or even a personal challenge.
Solving problems together—when we’re all able to share thoughts and ideas—that’s when innovation can really start. And innovation comes in many forms; everyone’s experience is valuable and can bring new ideas to the table.
But it’s not always easy to express yourself from the other side of a computer screen, especially if you’re not working in your first language. Coming from Australia and working with colleagues from around the world, I appreciate how important it is for us to all be on the same page—to all be seeing the same things and working on solving the same problems.
The person who readily shares ideas during an in-person meeting might sit very quietly in a virtual environment, so we have to reach for those stories and experiences. We have to make sure that we ask for everyone’s input and really open up the conversation to other viewpoints. Because when we’re collaborating through communication, that’s where real innovation and creative thinking happens.
We’re a global company. For us to work together, solve problems together, move forward and innovate together, we need effective tools to help us communicate problems. And we need data to analyze those problems.
Visual imagery is one of those tools. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and it’s true—we all tend to process information visually to some degree.
In the same way that interacting through computer screens takes away much of the nuance of human interaction, it’s not enough to just have words and slides when we’re trying to communicate virtually; we need to be able to draw a problem out in the real world. Pictures help us to do that. Pictures tell us the story and help to make a problem tangible; they tell us what’s possible.
When we understand that there’s a problem to be solved, we need to understand what the data looks like. And to do that, we need to collect the right data: data that’s objective and free of bias.
After we have that data, it becomes a matter of finding the stories in it—asking the questions that are going to get us closer to a meaningful resolution.
Data analytics has helped with this process because it helps us automate data collection and analysis. As we develop tools that allow us to store and analyze more data, we become better equipped to create innovative opportunities and develop new solutions and results.
Communicating—sharing the story of a problem—is important for innovation. More important? Knowing your own story. We have to take the time to get to know our own values. What do you stand for? What’s important to you? What drives you? What are you passionate about?
The values that drive me as a person have led to the greatest successes in my career, and I believe that when my personal values align with company values, we all succeed.
We also have to remember that everyone around us has their own story. Someone might be going through a career transition. They might be new to the workforce, or they might have been working for decades. Maybe they’re on your Zoom call while balancing family, children, or personal issues—perhaps all at the same time.
We’re all asking questions. We can all be confused or unsure at times. We all have our own story. But we’re also not alone. Connecting to others is important—even more so now that we’re virtual. So, find ways to connect to people. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask if you can help. Let’s see what we can do for each other.
And if we do this, we’re not just building a stronger company—we’re building a stronger community. One story at a time.
Learn more about NetApp’s team of cloud storage specialists and how they can help you build a stronger company by unleashing the power of your data and finding the stories hidden there.
Phoebe has forged a career bringing people and technology together. From humble beginnings as a Linux system administrator through to leading new initiatives as a Principal Architect, she’s continuously sought to identify common ground, solve problems, and continuously grow her knowledge. From working with government to financial services, through small and large organizations, Phoebe has been instrumental in delivering modern technology outcomes.
Phoebe strives to improve diversity in tech, by both supporting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives, and by being a positive role model for those in or entering IT. She is a Principal Technical Evangelist at NetApp.