You "Okta" Know What We're Thankful For

The days are getting shorter. It’s even cold enough to choose a jacket based on function, not form. And while we’d argue it’s still too early to put up a Christmas tree or get out the menorah, the holiday season is certainly upon us. But before we head out of town to visit families and cook delectable meals, we wanted to take a minute to think about Thanksgiving from a different perspective.

The average American spends 8.7 hours a day working (and arguably many more with smartphones in constant reach). So no matter how fantastic your family or friends are, your day-to-day happiness often depends on the people, customers and product that surround and consume you for most of the day.

Though our Okta team members have only recently regained a semblance of normalcy this month -- with not one, but three significant announcements (Okta Mobility Management, Okta Developer Edition and Okta Verify) at our annual customer event, Oktane14 -- we were able to grab a second of their coveted time to ask them what it is about Okta they’re thankful for this holiday season. And it’s clear from the overwhelming response that a few things stand out.

A Powerful Team

Fancy FridayFirst and foremost, the people. Whether it’s enjoying the company of co-workers during a lunch break, or hunkering down long into the night to solve an issue, Okta employees would go to the moon and back for their co-workers. And it’s these brilliant people that drive the success of the company. Tia Phillips, head of talent, told us that she loves, “working with wicked smart colleagues to provide the best products and services to our customers, while having fun every step of the way.” And those wicked smart colleagues are a pretty powerful team. According to Jeremy Russell, an account executive, “we work in an environment that is committed to getting the job done. We are all pulling the oars in the same direction.” Perry Whan, manager of emerging markets, loves the integrity of his colleagues, which comes from the top, noting, “It is clear that Todd [McKinnon] is an honorable man, and he runs his company the same way.”

A Product That Wins

Okta employees are thankful for each other, but they also appreciate the work they get to do together. Simon Thorpe, senior technical marketing manager, said it best: “I love working at Okta because we quite simply have the best technology out there. That technology exists because we hire the best people.” Mark Richardson, director of expert services, is eager to be at “a company with tremendous potential as we conquer the identity market.” And Okta employees aren’t the only ones to recognize that. Perry Germain added, “from a sales perspective, it’s the reason that we continue to win in the marketplace: people want Okta!”

Building a product that customers will use and love is not a strategy that uniquely benefits the sales team; it’s a differentiator that makes the whole team feel proud to work at Okta. Larry Aronovitz, VP of customer support, loves “the passion we have for making our customers successful,” and Thomas Bieser, a senior sales engineer, finds that passion to be “incomparable to any place I've ever worked before.” With the recent addition of Krista Anderson, chief customer officer, to our executive team, now’s a better time than ever to put our customer first, and technology second.

Perks, Snacks & PTO

benandjerrysFinally, it wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving blog without something on food. Unlike an annual feast that comes once a year, the Okta team enjoys snacks that range from birthday cookies and cupcakes to beef jerky, all year round. James Garvin, a senior technical instructor, is grateful we picked “the best coconut water on the planet.” And Lindsay Millar, sales enablement and training manager, loves the “all you can eat string cheese.” For the healthier crowd, Rich Dandliker, vice president of product management, points to the array of carrots, fruit, and yogurt as an added bonus to working at Okta.

For Shane Gallaher, a financial planning analyst, it’s all about the proximity of the pantry. “Snacks in the kitchen may seem like a small benefit, but in reality, they’re huge. It keeps people satisfied and focused on work. In previous companies, I'd find myself running out for 15 minutes to grab a coffee or a snack from a local market, which can severely interrupt one's flow. Being able to run into the kitchen, grab an espresso and get back to the grind has already proven effective in my work.” (Everyone can thank COO Frederic Kerrest for the added caffeine boost, as he firmly believes espresso machines pay for themselves in one month, and are crucial to the future success and long-term happiness of your team members.)

And finally, Okta employees are thankful for their unlimited PTO policy. As we head off to watch football and eat pumpkin pie, it’s time to recharge, so an inevitable return to the office can bring new energy and excitement for the work we’re doing for our customers. “I love the notion of taking PTO whenever it's needed for that drive toward a healthy work-life balance, although, Okta is such an exciting place to work that sometimes it's tempting not to take PTO at all,” added Thomas.

Though we miss our employees when they're gone for too long, we hope our team enjoys some well-deserved time with friends and family this holiday season, as are you! Whether you’re traveling cross-country or relaxing at home, have a fantastic Thanksgiving, from all of us at Okta.