As Citrix celebrates its 25th anniversary, much of the company’s focus is on culture. David Friedman believes attracting and keeping talent is essential to the relevance of Citrix in the virtualization, cloud, and networking industries. And as general counsel and senior vice president of human resources, Friedman is taking an active role in driving the company’s culture initiatives.
What are your top concerns in creating a strong company culture? What role do core values play?
Culture is a big differentiator for us. And in my view, when you combine a shared vision, a strong set of core values, and consistent leadership behaviors, you have the formula for a very powerful culture. I would say that it is one of the biggest reasons why people come to Citrix and why they stay here. For us, it starts with our core values, which are respect, integrity, humility, and conviction. We talk with our employees a lot about what it means to work at Citrix and the responsibilities that come with that, from interviewing and hiring all the way through management and development. I think we’ve done a tremendous job growing our culture over our 25-year history.
How does your internal structure reflect the spirit of innovation that drives success for Citrix?
Culture is a foundation for innovation. A strong culture creates trust. When there’s trust, people are free to push outside of their comfort zones and accept mistakes in the pursuit of innovation.
What current HR trends contribute to Citrix’s culture policy?
Our workforce is as intrinsically motivated as it is extrinsically motivated. So we’re looking at ways to engage our employees that go beyond the traditional bonus and pay structures that have been around for many years. Recognition is one aspect of this. Growth and development is another. We think about what it takes for our employees to experience true meaning in their work—a sense of creation, pride, and ownership.
How does your company culture give Citrix a competitive advantage?
We consider our culture one of our biggest competitive advantages. People come here, and they stay here because they’re passionate about our vision. They’re inspired. They share our values. We not only believe in what we do, but we also realize the value of what we do. A lot of companies have a code of conduct [that] they publish once a year, and it sits on a shelf. At Citrix, we try very hard to live and breathe our culture every day.
What is your recruiting strategy?
When it comes to recruiting, one of the most powerful things you can do is allow your employees to speak to prospective candidates and to present their personal experiences. Every company has its own recruiting page, but when you can use your recruiting channels to connect with candidates in a meaningful way, so that they have a strong sense of your value proposition, you’re able to stand out from the crowd.
How does your role as general counsel help you build this culture?
From a cultural standpoint, I view myself as a manager of teams. In that regard, I’m very focused on modeling our core values. I think a big part of my role as a manager and as a leader of the company is to find those coaching moments where I can help others on my team—or outside my team—learn to do the same thing.
What tools does someone need to fill both roles, as you have, and build such a culture?
Having a deep understanding of the business and putting yourself in the shoes of your customer to understand their needs and where you can add value are critical competencies for any HR or legal leader.
What advice do you have for someone changing a company’s culture?
Understand what you stand for, who you are, and who you aspire to be. Create the kind of framework that allows those values to be instantiated as you grow. Every company has a unique DNA, and the first task is to identify what that is. Don’t apologize for it, embrace it, and make sure it’s manifested in everything you do, from process to people. Then you have a real chance to build something you can be proud of.