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How Our Core Values Shape Our Identity

Screen Shot 2018 10 10 at 10 04 04 AM
Kristina Johnson
Chief People Officer

Some business’ core values have become very well-known, or even iconic—remember Google’s original code of conduct, “Don’t Be Evil”? It’s pithy and impactful, yet also vague and conceptual. This statement has since been altered to a more democratic, “You can make money without doing evil.” After all, there’s something to be said for having guiding principles that can be grounded in reality and put into practice.

We believe that core values aren’t simply lofty ideas or catchy taglines; they’re directives that inspire positive action and drive results. That’s why we recently updated ours to reflect the heart of our business—because we understand that actions speak louder than words. 

To showcase our thinking, we’re launching this Core Values series. You’ll hear from employees whose work embodies our central vision, beliefs, and action-centric values that all help to shape our identity. 

Reshaping our values

Previously, our values were summed up by four core concepts:

  • Customer Success
  • Innovation
  • Transparency
  • Integrity

Our position on these values hasn't changed, and we're just as passionate about them. But as Okta begins a new decade of growing our team and building solutions to help solve tomorrow’s security problems, we realize our core values should be calls to action, so we reshaped them to the following:

  • Love our customers
  • Never stop innovating
  • Act with integrity
  • Be transparent
  • Empower our people 

One reason for the update is that we've grown—significantly. From a company of two founders signing our first customer to a publicly-traded global organization with over 6,000 customers worldwide and a 1,700+ strong team. To keep this team moving in the right direction, we want to make sure our values are action-led statements that inform how we engage with each other and our customers. In sum, these are the values that give us our voice, and shape who we want to be as a company. 

Love our customers

This business only exists because Todd McKinnon and Frederic Kerrest—back in the days when Okta was a fledgling company called SaaSure—spoke with prospects one-on-one to learn what they wanted to see in a cloud identity and security solution. Then, they built that solution, delivering precisely what organizations were looking for.

For the last ten years, customer success has been the driving force behind every project, product, initiative, and team at Okta. Ask any employee what motivates them, and you’re bound to hear that they want to ensure our customers are happy. We make a point to listen to our customers so we can understand what solutions will help them succeed. One example is Okta Ideas, where community members can submit and vote on what they want to see in our product roadmaps. Listening to our customers enables us to build the best product for everyone, so our customers can focus on their own important projects.

Never stop innovating

Everyone at Okta is passionate about designing and building creative solutions—just ask our team. That’s why our second core value has always been innovation. With anything we do, we react quickly, strategically, and always think about the future. As we look forward to the next ten years, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of transformation with smart solutions driven by customer needs.

Act with integrity

Our job is to enable our customers’ unique missions and protect the identities of their most valuable resources—their people. Trust is at the core of this responsibility, so it makes sense that acting with integrity is our priority. Integrity is about honesty, decency, and the respect that we exhibit every day as we work with each other, our customers, partners, and extended community.

Okta is committed to doing work we can be proud of. Whether that’s the Okta for Good program or designing systems that are always on, we want to go home every night proud of the work we’ve done. 

Be transparent

From the beginning, Okta has championed transparency as a core value: facilitating open lines of communication, fostering mutual trust, and uniting the whole company for a common cause. Our leadership team holds a weekly company-wide All Hands meeting, sharing information from the top down and welcoming anonymous Q&As. Transparency was important when we were a startup, but it’s even more critical as a growing company with offices all over the globe. Employees are always kept in the know, and we rely on them to be the voice and strength of Okta. 

Empower our people

When we looked at our core values, we realized that the most important factor was missing: our people. So we created a new value just for them.

We want every employee to know that Okta belongs to them, and that they have a stake in our shared wins. We are proud of our people, and as they work to drive forward-thinking strategies in their fields, we aim to provide them with everything they need to succeed—and let them know that we appreciate everything they do. We’re committed to empowering our people, and we encourage our employees to support and create opportunities for one another.

Identity is the crux of our company, and at Okta, our values are our identity. Employees who embody each value will be sharing their stories and insights throughout the series, and we can’t wait to find out what they have to say about our mission here at Okta. 

Check back each week for new stories from our team—and if you’re interested in joining Okta, view our current openings, learn more about #lifeatOkta, or hear our vision from our leaders: 

Screen Shot 2018 10 10 at 10 04 04 AM
Kristina Johnson
Chief People Officer

Kristina brings more than 20 years of human resources experience to Okta and has worked across a variety of industries, including technology, software, consulting and engineering, ranging from start-ups to large multi-national established businesses. She is an experienced leader of global teams and adept at driving change management across diverse regions.

Prior to joining Okta, Kristina oversaw the international human resource function for EnerNOC, a leading provider of energy management software, where she was the HR lead responsible for executing several mergers and acquisitions from early due diligence through long-term integration.

Kristina earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Master’s Degree in Business at California State University of East Bay. Outside of Okta, she enjoys exercising, golfing and spending time with her family.