Vice president of global benefits, culture and engagement, HR mergers and acquisitions, and employee mobility. It’s a long title. And although there are many complex tasks and important responsibilities involved, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s Samanntha DuBridge explains her role with one simple phrase. “I’m here to create the programs and services that deliver an exceptional experience to my colleagues and their families,” she says.
DuBridge is a veteran human resources leader who’s logged two decades in healthcare and technology. She’s spent most of that time with Hewlett Packard companies, and after more than twenty years, she’s still excited about the chance she has to contribute to a strong corporate culture, create professional opportunities, and help others take important career steps.
Despite her sustained success and emergence as an expert in the field, DuBridge didn’t originally target a life and career in HR. She was born in the Bay Area of California, nurtured an interest in healthcare, and set out to work in hospital administration. DuBridge stayed on that track at San Jose State University, where she completed undergraduate and master’s programs.
During that time, she was already employed at Kaiser Permanente, and a conversation with the organization’s HR director put her on a new path. “I saw the opportunity to take my passion for healthcare and combine it with my desire to help people and their families,” she said. The HR director showed a personal interest in DuBridge and helped her find new opportunities in the organization.
The valuable mentorship she received made an impact, and as DuBridge left Kaiser in 1995, she resolved to help others in a similar way. A move to National Semiconductor gave her foundational tech experience before she joined HP in 2000. In her current role at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), DuBridge helps craft strategic direction and designs all global benefits and mobility programs.
While these activities keep DuBridge busy, she also provides critical support for HPE’s mergers and acquisitions by managing HR-related due diligence from concept to completion. Once deals close, she oversees all aspects of people integration including change management and alignment.
“These steps are critical to ensuring alignment and getting the most value from each deal the organization brings to the table,” she says. “Effective leaders have created a great culture here, and we want to keep that intact without losing anything that made our new colleagues special when they were independent companies.”
It’s an active area, as HPE leaders have stated publicly that they are executing an “accelerated” M&A strategy to fill “critical portfolio gaps” and pursue “enhanced competitive positioning.” HPE has announced twenty major acquisitions since the second quarter of fiscal year 2016. In 2021, key acquisitions included Cloud Physics with its software platform to monitor and analyze IT infrastructure, Determined AI’s open-source machine learning platform, Zetro’s cloud data management and protection software, and Ampool’s expanded capabilities in high-performance SQL analytics.
Each of these multimillion dollar deals also added hundreds of new employees to the HPE ecosystem, and DuBridge and her team members work overtime to make sure each one has a seamless transition. “Good HR happens when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes,” she says. “We think about the details that matter to new team members to make the onboarding process clear and simple.”
HPE’s benefits and HR teams activate to make sure new employees don’t miss a week of payroll or see interruptions in medical coverage. “Employees deserve benefits they understand and that give them more control,” says Alison Richards, CEO of Bind Benefits. “Samanntha understands those needs, and now HPE team members have an affordable, personalized health plan that makes it easy for them to make informed choices.”
The teams simultaneously work to communicate policy and procedures while hosting team building events that give acquired employees the chance to interact with their new HPE colleagues and experience the HPE culture.
By now, Hewlett Packard’s origins story is well-known throughout high tech. Bill Hewlett and David Packard essentially created Silicon Valley when they started their fledgling company in a one-car garage. It was 1939, and the leaders joined forces to manufacture and sell electronic test equipment. Their first client was a local film studio working on a small motion picture called Fantasia.
As the company grew to serve Walt Disney and other iconic clients, Hewlett and Packard remained vigilant about building an environment where people were welcomed, respected, and empowered. “Each person in our company is important, and every job is important,” Packard said.
Although HPE spun off from HP in 2015, DuBridge and her colleagues continue to honor, protect, and enhance the legacy HP culture. Today’s HPE is built around important corporate objectives that include trust and respect for individuals, achievement and contribution, results through teamwork, meaningful innovation, and uncompromising integrity.
Still, the company has had to adjust and evolve over the years, including in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic changed workplace interactions. In response, HPE implemented a program called Edge-to-Office to create a unique hybrid experience for its sixty thousand team members around the world.
HPE has totally reimagined the workplace in all locations worldwide to allow for enhanced flexibility. DuBridge says she and her colleagues first polled leaders and employees to discover preferences. A large majority preferred to spend most of their time working off-site, whether to help with family needs, reduce commuting time (and expense), or both.
Edge-to-Office created collaborative hubs for in-person meetings and emphasizes other ways for remote workers to connect. Employees who work off-site have the tools, workstations, and devices they need to maintain innovation, collaboration, and productivity. An Edge Council Committee engages all employees, supports leaders, and provides volunteer and team building opportunities.
“This is about personal choice and employees and managers deciding what’s best for them and their teams,” DuBridge says. “We trust our employees to know where they need to be at any given time, and this will be the new model going forward.”
As she moves these important initiatives along, DuBridge is always thinking about how she can keep employees connected to new opportunities. In 2022, she’s adding a community pillar to HPE’s wellness program. The new feature will remove barriers to communication and employees the chance to connect for virtual coffee meetings and collaborate in new ways. “We may be sixty thousand employees strong, but we don’t stand on formality or hierarchy,” she says. “We have an open-door policy.”
As a female leader in HR and tech, DuBridge is especially vocal about promoting opportunities for women. HPE has an active and robust employee resource group for women and an industry-leading parental leave policy.
The world is changing, and although there are challenges, DuBridge says the pace and uncertainty keep her energized. “We have to keep evolving and innovating so we can meet HPE’s business objectives while also meeting the needs of our team members,” she says. “HR leaders in tech can’t afford to let their programs and policies get stale and outdated.”
Even in the pandemic environment, HPE had a strong 2021. The organization saw demand grow by 16 percent with revenue up 3 percent to $27.8 billion. Its workforce is ready to meet the challenges of 2022 head-on as the company continues to pursue additional acquisitions and execute its ongoing aggressive growth plan.
Thoughts from Guest Editor Christine Vanderpool
“In today’s ever-evolving and changing work environments, the need for HR programs to support employee’s needs has never been more critical or challenging. Samanntha DuBridge is proof that it can be done and done successfully.”
Anthem BlueCross is proud to support Hewlett Packard Enterprises. Anthem members benefit from access to the largest provider network with industry leading cost savings. Through our clinical programs, coverage and services, Anthem is committed to improving the health of our members and being a lifelong partner in healthcare.