The DNA of CA Technologies

Kristen Prohl explains why the software firm’s deep-rooted culture is the nucleus of its success

Kristen Prohl, CA Technologies

The phrase “it’s in your DNA” is often used to describe the fundamental and distinctive characteristics of someone or something. For CA Technologies, a New York City-based software company, its DNA consists of ten core values that drive the corporate culture. With a mission to help customers remove the barriers between ideas and business outcomes, CA employees strive to be resilient, self-aware, results-oriented, authentic, and customer-centric. Collaboration, creativity, social awareness, agility, and uncompromising integrity also round out the company’s guiding principles.

“What is special about CA’s culture is that our DNA encompasses not only building blocks, but it’s also aspirational—something that employees are trying to achieve on a daily basis,” says Kristen Prohl, senior vice president of corporate law and assistant corporate secretary. “Most of us have the helicase posted on our walls or on our laptop covers as a constant reminder. It is a strong culture that is truly ingrained.”

The deep roots of CA’s culture are due, in part, to the company’s more than forty years of history. Russ Artzt and Charles B. Wang founded the firm in 1976. Prohl notes that this longevity is one of the defining factors that prompted her to join CA in January 2017.

“CA is an impressive company with endurance, which is very unusual in this sector,” Prohl says. “The software industry is ever-evolving with disrupters and game changers at every turn. It says a lot that a company like CA is not only still here, but is also thriving.”

Prohl oversees corporate legal matters at CA. She directly manages five of the seven people on her team. The corporate department handles Securities and Exchange Commission and NASDAQ market listing compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and other strategic transactions. It is also in charge of corporate governance, entity management, and legal support for key functions, such as investor relations, treasury, and tax and accounting. Previously, three separate leaders headed these areas. But, Prohl says it is beneficial now to have them all under one domain.

“All the functions have interdependencies, so it made a lot of sense to bring them together,” Prohl says. “There is an inherent challenge when you enter an existing community. Fortunately, I’ve come onto a team that has worked closely for many years. Their wealth of knowledge has made this transition much smoother than it would have
been otherwise.”

“We have fantastic policies and benefits, but the culture of the company is more than just its programs. It is about the shared understanding that this is an inclusive environment. We all have a value, and we all play a role. That belief resonates with me, and I try to echo that message within the team.”

Kristen Prohl

Communication and collaboration are essential to her team’s advancement. She facilitates biweekly group meetings, where each team member gives updates on their current projects and has the opportunity to provide context and comments on the work stream. Prohl believes that acting as a cohesive unit increases output and decreases the likelihood of neglected tasks or other inefficiencies. “My goal is to make sure the lines of communication are open among the whole team,” Prohl says. “There needs to be constant feedback as work product is developed. You want to make sure that once a project is completed that it had all the input required to be successful.”

As a woman of color and a working mother with a young family, Prohl is a proponent of fostering inclusivity and a strong work/life balance. She is supportive of CA’s policy to allow flexible schedules with manager approval. She also has an open-door policy to encourage more discussion and interaction. When it comes to management style, Prohl says that she sees herself as being at the center of a circle, rather than at the top of a pyramid.

“My husband is a small business owner, and we are both performing a balancing act every minute of every day to make sure we are successful at home and at work,” Prohl says. “I think most people are trying to achieve the same goals. It is important that what I need is what I offer to others. I want everyone to know they belong, their input is valued, and what each of us does matters.”

Prohl’s philosophy aligns with CA’s culture. The company provides comprehensive benefits and essential programs to ensure a work/life balance, financial security, and employee well-being. A few of its uncommon offerings include paid time off for pet bonding and bereavement, an on-site Montessori children’s center, and adoption assistance. CA has consistently been ranked by Forbes as one of America’s Best Employers. Working Mother magazine has put CA on its list of Best Companies for Multicultural Women three years in a row. And Ethisphere Institute recently named CA as a World’s Most Ethical Company for the second year in a row.

“We have fantastic policies and benefits, but the culture of the company is more than just its programs,” Prohl explains. “It is about the shared understanding that this is an inclusive environment. We all have a value, and we all play a role. That belief resonates with me, and I try to echo that message within the team.”

The future looks bright for CA. One indicator is its €600 million acquisition of Austria-based business and IT automation software provider Automic, and another is its $614 million acquisition of Veracode, a leader in securing web, mobile, and third-party applications, in early 2017. Yet, Prohl isn’t content to rest on her laurels. She is always looking for ways for her team to improve. She says that working in the fast-paced software industry has renewed her respect for how important it is to be an agile thinker.

“This industry evolves quickly and often,” Prohl says. “It is critical for CA to be proactive and creative to stay ahead of the curve. I am always asking, ‘How can we do things better? How can we do things differently? What are the current best practices, and how do we stack up?’” You might say, it’s in her DNA.

Photo: Meg Baggott

Winston & Strawn congratulates Kristen Prohl on her many outstanding accomplishments and for the well-deserved recognition she is receiving. Winston is proud of its relationship with CA Technologies, and we look forward to continuing to partner with Kristen and the CA Technologies team.