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Celebrating Our 2020 Customer Award Winners

Eric Kelleher
Eric Kelleher
Senior Vice President, Customer First

Since 2015, Okta has celebrated the innovation of, and collaboration with, our exceptional customers. And now, in 2020, the word “collaboration” takes on a new resonance, as our personal and professional lives are merging in ways they never have before. It’s collaboration that has allowed us to transform this year’s Oktane conference into Oktane20 Live, and as part of that celebration, it’s our pleasure to once again honor a few of our amazing customer achievements.

The Oktane Customer Awards give us the opportunity to recognize individuals who are exploring new ways of doing things within their organizations. These Okta customers have used their ingenuity and talent to solve some of today’s toughest business challenges. After the difficult task of choosing 33 finalists from a pool of amazing candidate stories, we received over 3,000 votes from customers, partners and employees to determine the winners for each of our nine categories: Cloud Conqueror, Evangelist, Protector, Lightning Deployment, Customer Experience Expert, Change Maker, Business Value Driver, Okta for Good, and Developer.

Cloud Conqueror  

This award celebrates organizations who made significant moves toward a cloud-first environment, to increase their agility and growth beyond their legacy on-premises systems. 

This year’s winner is Josh Kwan, Team Lead and Architect for DevOps at LiveRamp. LiveRamp had legacy assets consisting of 2,500+ Linux servers, with access federated by an on-prem VPN and LDAP authentication. Josh's team adopted Okta technologies and developed best practices to migrate to the cloud, while staying secure, reliable, on-time, and within budget.

Evangelist

The Evangelist award recognizes customers who go above and beyond to share the positive ways Okta impacts their organizations. 

This year Barb Adams, Senior Systems Engineer at Early Warning, earned top honors. Barb has been a huge Okta champion at not one, but now three Okta customer organizations. And not only did she spearhead the formation of the Okta Arizona User Group, but she has continued to lead and host multiple meetings with dozens of local attendees. Barb self-identifies as an Okta advocate, introducing herself with the tagline, “All Okta, all the time.”

Protector

Finalists for the Protector award are using Okta’s enhanced functionality with best-of-breed applications to extend their security strategy across their users, devices, and networks. Each finalist is building the foundation of their organization’s Zero Trust Security strategy.

The winner this year is Munish Dargan, Genpact’s Lead Enterprise Architect & Global IT Operations Leader. Genpact’s security strategy is built on a combination of leading security solutions and their integration with Okta Identity. Munish helped spearhead their Okta B2B integration to build an echo system of identity federation for their Fortune 500 customers. In addition to that, they’ve upgraded their user experience with password auth in combination with risked-based authentication and adaptive MFA. They’ve also centralized identity for their cross-cloud solutions.

Lightning Deployment

The Lightning Deployment award is for customers who have rolled out Okta with a particular swiftness. Thanks to their hard work, dedication, and efficiency, finalists for this award have deployed Okta within the past year, at lightning speed.

This year’s winner is Trey Ray, Manager of Cybersecurity for FedEx, who rolled out Okta to roughly 400,000 users across its workforce. This project consisted of SSO integrations with approximately 350 SaaS apps including O365, Workday and ServiceNow. It also included an MDM integration with VMware Workspace ONE, RADIUS integrations with CheckPoint VPN, and Broadcom/CA Privileged Access Management. This huge undertaking wouldn’t have been possible without Trey and his team’s success in gaining executive buy-in, building an effective internal change management and communications plan, leveraging Okta Education Services for onsite training, and leveraging Okta’s delivery partner relationships.

Customer Experience Expert

The Customer Experience Expert award celebrates companies who are busy creating new and exciting ways their customers can interact with their business through unique digital experiences. In order to move at the speed of customer demand and increase ROI, they’re modernizing infrastructure in the cloud. 

This year’s winner is Michael Gossett, Technical Product Manager, Consumer Identity and Access Management, at Cengage. Cengage uses Okta to consolidate sign-in paths, providing ease of use and increased security for their 24 million students and instructors. Thanks to Michael’s vision and leadership, they accelerated their projected roadmap to deliver desperately needed features and integrations from an 8-year to 3-year plan. The key was having a platform that both enforced identity standards and allowed those standards to be used for future growth. As they continue to save students millions of dollars through Cengage Unlimited, their goal is to build trust through identity

Change Maker

The Change Maker award is for customers who break down barriers. They adopt new technologies to better equip their business to solve today’s most complex challenges. These individuals use technology to drive change for their organizations, helping their teams and organization to work smarter, not harder.  

And the Change Maker award goes to Andy Gaspard, VP of IT Service Delivery at Peraton. Using Okta, Andy’s team has been able to quickly integrate and modernize access to over 90 on-premises and cloud-hosted apps, for thousands of employees. Their implementation of automatic provisioning and deprovisioning, in various environments, has led to an overall reduction of onboarding time by over 95%, allowing new hires to be productive on Day 1. End users are provided with a single integrated dashboard for efficient and secure access to enterprise applications, any place, any time.  

Business Value Driver

The Business Value Driver award showcases customers who are measuring and maximizing ROI for their organizations through Okta implementation and capitalizing on our extensive Okta Integration Network. They quantify and monitor the value achieved with Okta, using the data to justify their technology spend and drive adoption.

This year’s winner is Dave Ledoux, VP of Technology Services at Nizhoni Health. At Nizhoni Health, Dave and his team are measured by their number of help desk tickets, turnaround time for their new hire process, efficiency in off-boarding accounts and, of course, security. Using Okta, Dave and his team have already seen a 140% return on their investment, with 39% lower help desk tickets submitted, and a 30% increase in productivity. Dave has enabled Nizhoni Health to automate most tasks, allowing for a lean staff. He has successfully scaled his business without hiring more SysAdm + help desk staff, significantly lowering spend for his team and the organization overall.

Okta for Good 

The Okta for Good award is for nonprofit customers using the Okta Identity Cloud to create significant, positive impact in the world. The finalists for this award understand that nonprofits do some of society’s hardest and most important work, often with significant resource constraints. With operations in over 80 countries and employees as far away as South Africa and Australia, Okta’s reliability is key to ensuring everyone can access the resources they need to help others. 

This year’s winner is Dawn Long, Senior VP & COO at Direct Relief. Direct Relief is a nonprofit organization that provides critical access to medical supplies, disaster aid, and prescription drugs to at-risk communities, worldwide. During a crisis, every second is critical; staff on the ground simply can’t afford to lose access to their accounts and services. When an Office 365 account was compromised, Dawn and her team were able to quickly step in and activate MFA instantly, working with the Okta team to verify that the breach was resolved.

Developer 

As the Okta platform continues to evolve, we're seeing more and more community developers building fantastic tools for themselves and other customers. In the true spirit of community developed software, these developers take charge to build, maintain and enhance their offerings. So, for the first time, we'd like to recognize their effort. This year, we’ve Introduced our inaugural Developer Award!

Our first winner is Andy Gertjejansen, Lead Software Engineer at Optum. While at Articulate, Andy built a Terraform provider that quickly gained traction among Okta customers. As a result, with Andy's help, the Terraform provider is now certified. Andy also presented at Okta’s Sales Engineer Summit last year and has built a great relationship with our Sales Engineering and Developer Evangelist teams. 

Thanks to all of our great candidates, and congratulations to our Customer Award winners of 2020. To hear even more real world stories from our customers, check out the great content from Oktane20.

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Eric Kelleher
Senior Vice President, Customer First

In his role as Senior Vice President, Customer First for Okta, Eric is responsible for leading and accelerating teams and programs that deliver on Okta’s corporate value Love Our Customers. Eric has spent the last 25+ years leading software companies through growth. He’s served over 20 years in various customer-centric leadership roles at SaaS companies, including 11 years with Salesforce.com, where he learned from and helped shape their playbook for cultivating a wildly successful enterprise subscriber base. 

Eric earned a B.S. in Economics and Computer Science from Georgetown University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford.

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