Fairfax County is the ‘Center of Gravity’ for NetApp’s Public Sector Headquarters: Interview with NetApp CEO George Kurian + NetApp U.S. Public Sector President Michelle Rudnicki

The intelligent data infrastructure company NetApp celebrated the Grand Opening of its new U.S. Public Sector headquarters in the Boro Tower in Tysons last fall. NetApp chose to keep its U.S. Public Sector headquarters in Fairfax County, moving into a new 24,000 square-feet office space. With more than 12,000 employees worldwide, San Jose, California-based NetApp was founded in 1992, with the Fairfax County-based U.S. Public Sector offices opening in 2000.

NetApp CEO George Kurian and NetApp U.S. Public Sector President Michelle Rudnicki sat down with the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority to tell us about the company and why they chose to keep its U.S. Public Sector headquarters in Fairfax County.

George Kurian, CEO, NetApp

George Kurian joined NetApp in 2011 as Senior Vice President of its storage solutions group. He was promoted to Executive Vice President for product operations in 2013, and became NetApp’s Chief Executive Officer in 2015.

FCEDA: Please provide us with a brief overview of what your company does, as well as the function of this office.

George Kurian: We have been in business since 1992 and our headquarters is in San Jose, California. We build services, software and systems for data storage and management. For example, we support the needs of the national defense organizations by providing real time combat theater information flow. We provide GIS services to state and local governments, and we help secure the national critical infrastructure for both the public sector as well as for critical private sector organizations. We have about 325 employees who are dedicated to serving the U.S. government and all 50 state governments. The Virginia office is the headquarters of our U.S. Public Sector Organization, a wholly owned subsidiary of NetApp.

FCEDAHow many offices do you have in the US as well as other countries?

George Kurian: We have about 90 offices in approximately 30 countries around the world.

FCEDA: Who are your primary customers?

George Kurian: We serve a broad range of customers, close to 40,000 customers across the globe. These are virtually every member of the Global 2000 and Fortune 500, the largest private business organizations around the world, and a wide range of higher education and K-12 educational institutions around the world. Of course, all the agencies of the U.S. government, as well as all 50 state governments, and then service providers, cloud service providers, telecommunications providers and a variety of consulting firms. So, a broad mix of businesses around the world.

FCEDA: What’s innovative about your company’s technologies?

George Kurian: We provide a combination of capabilities, unified data storage, that supports the needs of any application in any environment, whether it’s in a customer’s data center or in the cloud. We have integrated data services for security, privacy and governance, and we have a suite of applications that allow you to monitor and detect, whether your data assets are being accessed inappropriately or whether they are performing according to the needs of your business. What this provides our customers uniquely is simplicity in the way they manage their ever-growing data estates, the ability to derive business value from their data quickly, and the right balance of flexibility and cost.

FCEDA: What sets you apart from your competitors?

George Kurian: We operate in an industry where there are lots of different types of competitors. What uniquely sets NetApp apart three things. First, technology leadership, the world’s best software for storage and data management, the right sets of integrated services for security and governance, as well as optimization and automation. The second is partnerships. We have deep partnerships with the world’s leading cloud providers, artificial intelligence companies like NVIDIA. And these are 360-degree partnerships going all the way from technology development and integration to customer support and joint sales engagement. And the third is expertise. We are the largest specialist data storage and management company, and we’ve got 12,000 people around the world solely focused on it, which allows us to have the best solutions in the market.

FCEDA: Why is Fairfax County the choice location for your public sector office?

George Kurian: We have been in Fairfax County for many years, and we chose it as the headquarters of our U.S. public sector organization for a few key reasons. The first is talent. It has a large talent pool, both in the private sector as well as veterans and other public sector employees who form an important part of NetApp’s workforce. About 12 percent of our workforce are veterans, and we love having that deep talent pool. Second is there’s a technology cluster here. So many of our partner companies work here, operate here, and so it makes doing joint work with them easier. The third, is that it is well-situated geographically with access to both public sector organizations in Washington, D.C., as well as state and local government organizations here. And it’s a great place to do business and a great place to live for our employees. We’re really excited for our new office and look forward to many productive years here ahead.

FCEDA: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about opening your new office or your company?

George Kurian: We continue to believe that the next era of progress is a data driven era that’s proven true over the last decade, where organization and institutions that know how to use data have driven far more success in accomplishing their missions than organizations that are not. And the pace of that difference has grown since COVID. We really feel fortunate to have the opportunity to serve the U.S. government and so many of the leading organizations here in the Virginia area, and across the country.

Michelle Rudnicki, President of NetApp, US Public Sector Inc.

Michelle Rudnick joined NetApp Public Sector as Vice President in 2020 and was promoted to President in 2023. 

FCEDA: When did NetApp open its Fairfax County office?

Michelle Rudnicki: NetApp US Public Sector Inc. was incorporated in 2000 and that’s about the time that we opened our first office in the Tysons area.

FCEDA: Why did you decide to relocate within Fairfax County?

Michelle Rudnicki: We love having our NetApp U.S. Public Sector offices here in Tysons. This is a great location for us, not only because of the access to our customers, but for the great talent pool that we have located in this area. Being a public sector business, we serve the federal government as well as organizations across the country. But this really is our center of gravity. We have great access to downtown D.C., which is the headquarters for most of the federal agencies. And Fairfax County hosts most of the large systems integrators that work with federal government. We have easy access to them. Northern Virginia really forms a great ecosystem for us of reseller partners, as well as systems integrator partners, and other technology partners where we can really come together, and work with our government customers to help them serve their mission.

FCEDA: Do your employees currently work on an on-site hybrid or remote, and do you anticipate any changes in that policy?

Michelle Rudnicki: Our NetApp employees in the field, which is most of the people in this office, are either salespeople, technical salespeople or service personnel, and they are a mix of remote workers and hybrid workers. Hybrid affords us the ability to give people the flexibility to work at home when they need to, but also to have the office when they need to. We expect that NetApp will continue to foster a hybrid environment. We’re really excited that as we open this new office, the design facilitates much more of a collaborative space. And we’re looking forward to people coming in more often because it is so inviting and so much easier for them to be able to network with colleagues, customers and partners alike.

FCEDA: Are you anticipating hiring more staff at this location?

Michelle Rudnicki: We always are looking to grow our business. And as we grow our business, we have the opportunity to augment our staff. We’re constantly in that state of growing and developing new talent.

FCEDA: Does this area offer a good talent pool for your hiring, and if so, why?

Michelle Rudnicki: The Tysons area is wonderful from a talent standpoint. We have many great universities that are local to us, so we are able to engage and recruit new college graduates, as well as a pool of people that are transitioning out of federal government that are often interested in transitioning into industry. That affords us another nice pool of talent as well as talent that’s working at some of our competitors and partners in the area that may be searching for new opportunities.

FCEDA: Do you hire veterans?

Michelle Rudnicki: We hire a lot of veterans and have very good programs working with veterans. I actually happen to chair Net Vets, which is our resource group focused on veteran employees. About 12 percent of NetApp are veterans. We’re very proud to hire them. We take advantage of the military transition programs to bring people in so that they can adapt to life within a company and bring them on full time as we go forward.

FCEDA: What’s innovative about NetApp’s technologies?

Michelle Rudnicki: NetApp is a data company. We focus all on data and data management for our customers. We have been in this space for a long time. We started with very simple technology handling files. And as we’ve grown, we really have stayed focused on what companies are doing with their data, and ensuring that they are able to gain insights from that data. Having access to their data where they need it, when they want it, and being able to integrate whether they’re in the cloud or on prem is where we’ve been really focusing our innovation.

(NetApp photo)

FCEDA: What sets you apart from your competitors?

Michelle Rudnicki: Our focus on customers and the longevity that we’ve had in working with public sector customers is really one of our differentiators. We understand their missions and what they’re trying to accomplish, not just looking at it from just a pure IT or mechanic standpoint, but really understanding what they’re trying to do and enabling them to complete their mission through the ecosystem of partners that we work with in this area.

FCEDA: What else would you like to tell us about opening this new office in Tysons?

Michelle Rudnicki: I’m really excited about opening the new office. I think it will drive and motivate our employees. We did a soft opening about a week ago and we’ve had many people into the office since then. It has inspired them in a lot of ways.  They feel like this is a great space, they feel special, and that isn’t just the building space that we’ve given them, but the location and the access to the shops and restaurants and activities. I think it will continue to promote our hybrid work culture that we have in a really good way, to be able to allow employees to still have the balance of work from home but also work from office and really have a reason to be come in.

READ ALSO: NetApp Opens New U.S. Public Sector Headquarters in Tysons

Find out more at NetApp.com.