More Than an Office: A Day in the Life with Armen Vartanian
An office is more than just a place to work. It’s where ideas and innovations come to life, friendships are established and challenges are faced head-on. It should foster a supportive and collaborative environment that produces a unique company culture. That’s the view of Okta’s Senior Director, Head of Global Workplace Services Armen Vartanian.
We recently sat down with Armen to learn more about Okta’s offices around the world and how he ensures they reflect the company’s culture and inspire pride from employees.
What do you do at Okta?
In my role as head of global workplace services, I am in charge of everything from a physical environment perspective. I manage geolocation strategies (where we should be opening offices), the construction and workplace operations teams, and coordinate physical security protocols. Through these physical aspects, I actively work to cultivate a productive and positive work culture.
Your role is a fairly new concept in business, how did you get into this line of work?
Coming from a financial planning and analysis background, I was introduced to real estate while working in the finance department at LinkedIn. At this time, I was also an Olympic hopeful and the position afforded a lot of flexibility for training. [Armen doesn’t want to brag about his running records, so we will for him: he was a qualifier in the Ironman World Championships, he holds the record for the Armenian half-marathon, and won the San Francisco Half Marathon in 2014.] My real estate and finance experience led to a position as head of global design, real estate and workplace operations.
Many tech companies provide amenities, as Silicon Valley has helped drive the work/life balance movement. But, I saw the opportunity to provide more than just perks, increase productivity and to improve the way people work. Okta has enabled me to bring new focus to the role, and uplevel the employee workplace atmosphere.
What are your top priorities when designing an office?
Increasing employee engagement is always top-of-mind, which is why all Okta offices are equipped with breakout spaces and food and fitness programs. My team is always looking for new and innovative ways to help employees engage with one another and with the company as a whole.
How do you determine which amenities or initiatives are chosen?
My philosophy for growing and/or adding new amenities mirrors the company’s approach to growth — we need to grow intelligently. This means investing in amenities that that have a real purpose and that benefit individuals, our culture and company as a whole. If a specific initiative will result in higher employe engagement, productivity and workplace pride, then it has a strong chance of being approved.
Employee demographics and planning for the future also play a critical role in determining which amenities to implement. Approximately 75 percent of our employees in the future will be millennials, but we want to be flexible and accommodate the other 25 percent as well. We accomplish this by creating the “live where you work” strategy. This means developing offices that are in highly connected areas of the cities in which we have offices. For example, the newly opened Bellevue office is near a transit center, close to downtown Bellevue and across from hotel where employees can have discounts when travelling back and forth. So is our London office under construction. It sits directly over the Farringdon station and is uniquely connected to London’s new cross rail.
What first attracted you to the company?
I’ve been at Okta for almost a year, and many of the reasons I stay are the same reasons I was attracted to Okta in the first place. I admire Okta’s product offerings, especially knowing that we are tapping a fairly nascent market in terms of identity. After working in tech for several years, it became clear to me how many companies out there are growing but are not growing intelligently. Okta is an intelligent company with bright, experienced and ambitious leadership.
What’s most rewarding about your role?
I find that seeing the impact of my role is what rewards me the most. When a new office or new program commences, I feel proud when I see the my coworkers light-up with excitement.
Opening an office takes about a year. First you select a market and then there are board approvals for properties and leases, and then managing construction. It’s a lot to manage but when I see employees walk into a custom-built space with smiles on their faces, I know that I’ve made a difference that will have a positive effect on our office culture.
Describe Okta in one word.
Inspiring. It sounds cheesy, but it’s the best way to describe the feeling of genuinely looking forward tackle the work I do everyday.
Think you might have what it takes to join our growing team? We want to meet you. Check out our careers page for available positions.