Simon Eid is the Group Vice President, Australia & New Zealand of Splunk, the world’s first Data-to-Everything Platform. He is inspiringly passionate about the culture they’ve created and believes “the reason we’ve succeeded is we live and breathe our culture.”
What Makes a Great Culture?
Simon says, “Culture is the most important piece of an organization and diversity plays a big role in shaping that.”
Splunk has a culture of respect, trust, honesty & accountability, and they have:
- No politics, intimidation or fear
- A healthy work/life balance
- A commitment to celebrating success
- A culture of helping each other and asking for help
Splunkers are encouraged and empowered to be innovative, passionate, disruptive, open and fun.
Simon is “extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, because success doesn’t just come from the leaders. It’s more than just gender, race or sexual orientation – our Million Data Points effort was created based on the belief and the importance of intersectionality. It’s everybody that makes a difference because they think differently, and we learn from each other. That’s what’s driven our success.”
The employee number of Splunk has increased significantly in ANZ over the past four years. Maintaining that culture through Splunk’s rapid growth has been achieved through leadership setting a positive example, ensuring our people are good cultural fits and being clear and consistent on the importance of Splunk’s values which are ingrained at every level.
“As you go through growth as a start-up you need collaboration, team-work and sharing. You need to be able to bring people up to speed quickly as you drive people and revenue growth. Culture is categorically the thing that has driven us because people want to work here, they want to work as a team, and share their wins and losses.”
Splunk has a bit of a Silicon Valley vibe, with weekly breakfasts, lunches and drinks, Playstation rooms, table tennis and a bar. Kids can even come to the office during school holidays. Offices are designed for collaboration and set up to enable customers to work there. People want to be in the office, which encourages innovation.
Simon shares, “my definition of success is employees never want to leave and external people want to join.”
Removing Bias While Maintaining Culture
We know that hiring for ‘cultural fit’ may lead to unconscious biases, as people often hire people who are like them. At Splunk, diversity is key to their success, so while they hire for cultural fit, they interview across three different leaders who all need to agree. Simon knows, “If I just hire people like me then we’re not going to grow as an organization.”
Simon is passionate about having teams who think differently and learn from each other. He also values a safe culture, where building empathy and understanding alternative viewpoints is encouraged.
In a tech company like Splunk, getting a strong gender mix can be tough, but Splunk is investing in university programs to encourage more women into STEM, as they continuously grow their talent pipeline. Splunk also uses tools to mitigate unconscious bias in job postings and interview feedback, and work to have more diverse hiring panels during the recruitment process.
“We’re a high-growth company; we’ve been really successful, and the team is awesome. We’ve got to develop a path that we can put you on wherever you start in the organization. I want people to join us for the right reasons, and culture is the big reason people join and then stay. Our pitch is our culture!”
How to Manage for Culture
Simon, “wants to understand the heartbeat of the office,” and his most important job is looking after and engaging his people. For other managers wanting to create a strong positive culture, he shares a few tips:
- 99% of the time, performance reductions are due to something else happening in an employee’s life. You need to speak to your people regularly to find out those issues.
- Spend half an hour chatting to people daily. “People want to feel valued and when they do, they perform at a different level.”
- Clearly define the cultural values the team has.
- Engage the whole team in required actions to build the values and culture.
- Create a safe environment where people can admit their mistakes and speak up.
- Maintain humility and empathy.
- Continue learning from everyone in your team.
Simon is incredibly proud of Splunk’s culture and says, “I get the most joy when a new person starts and after about a week they say, ‘this is unbelievable!’ We live our values in a way that very few companies do.”
How to Have a Career in a Place You Love
With years of leadership and management experience, I asked Simon to share his tips for someone trying to shape their career into one that they love as much as he loves his! His suggestions are:
- Think about what motivates you on both a personal and a work level.
- Have a (flexible) view of where you want to see yourself.
- Take the full picture into account – earnings, work and lifestyle.
- Understand that your motivations change. For Simon it was more financial 15 years ago and now he is excited by developing his team, seeing their success and watching them coach the next generation.
- Find a mentor and help them help you by being clear on what you want to achieve and how they might help.
For Simon, “nothing makes me happier than watching a team develop and become successful.”