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Culture: It’s what we believe and drives how we work better, together

By Karen Copeland (HPE NonStop) and Richard Buckle (Pyalla Technologies, LLC)




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At times it’s easy to miss the steps that companies are taking to revise and refocus their way of conducting business. Developing or transforming a culture isn’t a simple endeavor as it does require commitment and communication. It also requires time and a shared understanding of the impact culture has on business. Most of all, culture when is deeply rooted in our behavior it can improve and make it easier to interact with our customers and partners. Culture binds a company together even as it leads to an environment where employees thrive on innovation.

Employees cognizant of shared goals, who understand what it takes to meet customers’ expectations, will win out and they raise the bar for competitors. Employees that simply enjoy working together because of the culture will go the extra mile for the company, stay with the company through difficult times and help the company to succeed. They are wrapped up in what we refer to, with some reverence, as having a deep affection for our cultural roots. It is why they want to come to work each day.

Earlier this year, HPE held an all-hands event where our CEO Antonio Neri talked of HPE’s vision – to become the Edge-to-Cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS) company, but he also took the opportunity to cover HPE’s cultural blueprint. But what is culture? What contribution to the resilience of a company does a strong culture provide? What do we mean when HPE talks about its “unshakable DNA”?

For HPE today, our unshakable DNA is all about putting “our customer first. We partner, innovate and act with uncompromising integrity.” According to Forrester Principal Analyst, Sam Stern, in a September 14, 2017, update the Culture Transformation – the Potential and Purpose, “Culture is fuel – it has the potential to harness the full power of human capital to deliver on a purpose and brand promise. Done well, it creates real and sustainable strategic advantage.”

In a December 19, 2018, report written by Gartner’s Human Resources team, Build a High-Performing Organizational Culture Drives business performance,  a company’s “culture is the most discussed talent issue.” As Gartner determined –

“The key to a successful organization is to have a culture based on a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs that are supported by strategy and structure. When an organization has a strong culture, three things happen: Employees know how top management wants them to respond to any situation, employees believe that the expected response is the proper one, and employees know that they will be rewarded for demonstrating the organization’s values.”

Prosperous companies have always had strong cultural roots. Culture is “catchy” – it spreads. A good culture is one that is reinforced by the actions of others and we all want “in.” Culture is not static in any way as it evolves even as it never departs from the unshakable DNA on which it is founded. It builds on what has worked previously even as it embraces what’s new, overlaying it on what is already familiar and has been working well for the company. Ultimately, when it comes to technology vendors, culture is all about sustaining creativity and innovation as it influences the company’s strategic direction.

HPE can trace its cultural roots back to the earliest days of HP – the HP Way. From the very beginning the HP Way was all about trust and respect –

“We approach each situation with the belief that people want to do a good job and will do so, given the proper tools and support. We attract highly capable, diverse, innovative people and recognize their efforts and contributions to the company.”

“We recognize that it is only through effective cooperation within and among organizations that we can achieve our goals … We create an inclusive work environment which supports the diversity of our people and stimulates innovation.”  

Culture is extremely important for HPE. Walk around its new San Jose headquarters and you will be reminded of how effectively strong working relationships have influenced innovation in design and execution of products, features and supporting infrastructure. Pastries arriving on a regular basis even as the opportunity to take a half day off, every other Friday, to pursue interests outside of work makes working at HPE better for employees.

Socializing, too, via social networking tools like Yammer that fosters better team work even as it encourages positive community interaction. Innovation happens more organically when people have the tools in place to share ideas and can offer support as new ideas are promoted. A strong positive culture is highly visible wherever you find the HPE employees, at work.

However, we would be hard pressed not to reference the global pandemic or even the more recent societal unrest that has impacted so many of our lives. At HPE, this has led to us practicing social distancing even as it has led to all of our colleagues working out of their home offices. It has made us all aware that our business practices benefit most when they are inclusive of all our global contributors. Yet, it is with our cultural strength in mind that HPE’s leadership has embraced numerous initiatives that reach deep into the communities we serve.

This outreach to the community was referenced in a post by Antonio Neri to the HPE blog, Showing humanity at its finest as we move to recover.  In this post he writes about the latest on HPE’s COVID-19 response –

 “We are living through an unprecedented global crisis, and it’s in moments like these that people, communities and companies show the world who they truly are.

“As we watch communities grow stronger, I also see our company’s culture growing even stronger. Every day I see examples of our team members leaning on and caring for each other, putting the needs of others first and embracing the spirit of ‘yes we can.’

“In this new world, business continuity depends on solutions that advance IT resiliency, provide supply chain transparency, empower remote workforces, extend connectivity, reinvigorate customer engagement and help organizations retool their business models.  We have a unique ability to help with these needs, and we take that responsibility seriously.”

In a more recent update from Antonio Neri to employees all he reiterated his support for our culture and the beliefs this entails when he comments on recent events in the US. “Our shared beliefs include a commitment to unconditional inclusion,” he said. “To speak up on our inclusion, to advocate within and outside HPE for equality – it’s time to lean into our belief to solve humanity with humanity.” This can only be achieved of course when you are assured that your culture embraces compassion, beliefs and of course, humanity.

When it comes to the HPE Mission Critical Systems organization and to the NonStop team in particular, there is a sense of ease in which the HPE culture is embraced. A sense of familiarity for those who remember working for Tandem Computers it is easy to identify with programs now in place. Innovation was at the forefront of each team member even as this culture fostered communication in novel ways.

Tandem was among the very first vendors to deploy a global satellite uplink whereby communications could be sustained on a global basis – televised management updates became as integral to the business life at Tandem as were beer busts, donuts on paydays and even sabbaticals. Who else offered six week sabbaticals on full pay after a qualifying four year period?  But most important in those days and what lingers today is the way Tandem challenged employees to build lasting and strong relationships with customers and partners and to keep communication lines open.  People in the NonStop business then and now run towards crisis, looking to help customers come through without negative impact and to stick with them until the crisis is averted and solved. So the renewed direction of the HPE culture resonates well within the NonStop teams.

Everyone wants to work for a company that innovates. Everyone enjoys working with colleagues sharing similar traits. But innovation doesn’t come cheaply nor does it happen automatically through processes similar to osmosis. To become catchy and something we adhere to, and then champion, requires leadership and commitment and even as we have warmed to Neri’s presentations, comfort was taken in knowing that where HPE is headed on its journey to being the premier supplier of PaaS with its focus on Edge-to-Cloud, it is travelling down a familiar path.

For this reason, the HPE culture is perhaps the most crucial component anchoring our response to challenges that arise, be that business focused locally or bigger events on the global stage. Continuing to innovate only comes about when our customers and partners trust us and see our willingness to entertain their ideas and to act boldly. With culture, a shared sense of purpose, a community where everyone wants to belong has implications beyond just the needs of today. Culture is fuel and culture is important and for HPE it simply is who we are. “Yes we can,” isn’t a logo or a meme at HPE; it’s just what we do best!


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Karen Copeland

Manager, Worldwide Product Management for HPE NonStop

Mission Critical Solutions

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Karen Copeland has worked in the NonStop business since 1983, holding individual or management positions in IT, Software Engineering, QA, Application development and Product Management.   In her current position she is responsible for the Worldwide Product Management team for the HPE Mission Critical NonStop platform.



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Richard Buckle

Cofounder and CEO

Pyalla Technologies, LLC


Richard has over 32 years of experience with HPE’s NonStop systems, including eight years working at Tandem Computers followed by just as many years at ACI Worldwide and then GoldenGate Software focused on payments solutions with an emphasis on ever-evolving communications and networks infrastructure. Well known to the user communities of HPE and IBM, Richard served on the board of the HP user group, ITUG (2000-2006), as its Chairman (2004-2005), and as the Director of Marketing on the board of the IBM user group, SHARE, (2007-2008).