What it Means to Be a CTO Ambassador

AmandaBlevinsSmallAbout Amanda Blevins:

Amanda is a Principal Engineer and the Software-Defined Data Center Lead for the Americas in the Field Office of the CTO. She has helped numerous large organizations in IT transformation. She also leads teams that focus on customer engagements and internal enablement. Amanda is widely respected for her technical knowledge and business acumen. She works closely with VMware’s Research and Development organization to ensure that our solutions meet our customers’ expectations for quality and functionality.

Amanda  has enjoyed the IT industry for twenty years. Her official Computer Science education began at Vanderbilt University during her tenure as a college athlete while working for the School of Engineering. She continued her career with systems support for service providers. Through the years her path included various engineering and architectural roles to support lines of business in many industries including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, financial services, service providers, information, technology, media, energy, transportation, and the Department of Defense. In these global organizations, Amanda was responsible for designing and implementing the technology strategy to support worldwide operations and to grow lines of business. 

 

Before I can write about being an Ambassador for VMware, I must first share what being a VMware employee means to me.  Over a decade ago, I had my first enterprise-level experience with virtualization, and with VMware in particular.  I was an ambitious server and storage team lead at a manufacturing company who saw how virtualization of our systems would change everything.  Luckily, our CIO agreed with me that virtualization was the right choice for our company’s future, and funded our ESX project.

 

The migration of test and development systems went so well in the first rollout that production soon followed.  One night, I was migrating one of our most critical systems that, of course, ran on Windows NT.  The P2V process back then was: boot from a CD, hard set the network speed and duplex, and hope for the best!  The P2V itself was successful, but when I booted the NT 4.0 server and logged in, the application would not work.  In fact, the Operating System itself was limping along.  Besides generating a new resume, I didn’t know what to do.  I called VMware support in the hopes that they could help me even though this was obviously a Microsoft issue (and Microsoft no longer offered support for Windows NT).

 

After providing my information to the support team, I was connected to an amazing engineer who gladly walked through the OS with me and helped uncover a service that didn’t start, which fixed the issue.  I was amazed at his troubleshooting abilities and willingness to help.  I knew from that moment on that VMware was a company that I wanted to work for.

 

Fast-forward six years and I was given the opportunity to interview for a local sales engineer position [with VMware].  I was torn– I had never spent time in sales at a technology company, and I believed everyone had all the vSphere they would ever need.  I wasn’t sure what my future would bring in that position.  However, I had promised to myself that I would work for VMware and that was the best opportunity I would have.  Taking that interview was one of the best decisions of my life.

 

As we know today, VMware has leading technologies for many things Cloud, and Software-defined Data Center.  Our previous CTO even coined that term at VMworld a few years ago.  We continue to disrupt the Data Center.  We have strong values as a company around execution, passion, integrity, customers, and community.  The performance displayed by technical support from ten years ago still exists in the company culture today.  Everyone is knowledgeable, open, helpful, and, most importantly, a lot of fun!

 

What could make this experience even better?  Well, being a CTO Ambassador!  As one of the select representatives of our customers and field (sales engineers, support engineers, technical account managers, professional services, etc.) to our research and development teams, I am given the opportunity to improve VMware on a larger scale.  My fellow Ambassadors are among the best and brightest of the field.  We are a highly motivated group looking to do the right thing by our clients and VMware.  We live our company and personal values daily and go above and beyond the expectations of our day job to educate and raise those around us.  Being a part of a team like this drives me to a higher level of excellence personally.  As a collective, we do the same for VMware and our solutions.

 

Additionally, with the insight from our Executive team, Office of the CTO, and R&D, I am able to have more informative conversations with our customers to enlighten them on our strategy and roadmap as it relates to enabling their business goals.  The leaders of VMware respect every employee’s opinion.  However, as Ambassadors, we are proactively included to weigh in on vision and roadmaps before they are finalized.

 

Specifically, as an Ambassador I participate in many decisions around product direction, possible customer use-cases and go-to-market strategy, the education of our field teams, and formal communications to our customers.  The industry experience and technical knowledge of an Ambassador is invaluable to VMware to ensure that we are on the right path.  Also, Ambassadors present at events such as VMworld, VMUGs, vForums, TechSummits, and other venues to educate ourselves, partners, and customers on our ability to provide the best solutions in the industry.  CTO Ambassadors are sought out for our insightfulness due to our numerous experiences in many solution areas and industry verticals.  By virtue of this experience and exposure, I am better equipped to be a leader and a mentor for others looking to have the same impact for our customers and VMware.  Being an Ambassador is a great honor, and I am proud to share this with one hundred of my coworkers and friends.

 

 

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