NetApp's chief executive George Kurian has said he now feels good about where the company is, following nearly two years as CEO, during which he implemented a three-pronged turnaround plan.
Kurian took over the top job at NetApp in June 2015, at a time when the company's share price was falling and its then-UK boss admitted there was some confusion among customers.
Speaking exclusively to CRN, George Kurian (pictured) admitted it was clear when he took over that there was an urgent need to make changes. At first, he met with key company stakeholders to get a sense of where the company was at, before implementing his grand plan.
"I first spent time with our customers and partners and investors, in addition to the employees of the company - just interviewing many different stakeholders about the state of the union," he said. "I immediately got a sense of the real positives and the deep loyalty that we had in our customer base, the commitment of the partners, and the genuine affection for the company.
"I also felt there was clear urgency needed to steer a different course for the business, so we outlined a transformation programme that encompassed three things: The first was [to do with] the technology portfolio - to accelerate the technology portfolio towards the faster-growing parts of the market. The second was to adjust our cost structure to be in line with the expectations of the business; and the third was to bring on a new leadership team to drive the business to the next chapter of its evolution."
Kurian claims he has delivered on all three areas over the last almost two years.
"I feel really good about all those things we laid out," he said. "We communicated a plan to the investors and we are ahead of that plan. We returned the company to growth after three years; we accelerated our number-one position in several different parts of the storage market. We are the fastest-growing all-flash-array vendor, the fastest-growing SAN vendor - and that's the first time in the history of the company that a CEO of NetApp can say that. We have the first number-one share in the storage and device-management market. So we feel very, very good about our progress in those dimensions.
"In terms of the cost structure, I think the financial metrics continue to speak for themselves. The leadership team has really gelled - we have lots of new talent which has come to talent because they have confidence in our position that we get to take an institution that is beloved by customers for doing right by them to the next chapter of our history."
When Kurian joined NetApp in June 2015, the firm's shares traded for between $33 and $34 - a price which had fallen significantly compared with six months previously when the figure was closer to $44. Since Kurian took over, the company's share price has increased to highs of nearly $43 this month.
"We see Dell and EMC's merger as a complete opportunity for NetApp. We're gaining share at their expense. I think they've got several phases of rationalisation to take on."
Kurian added that now he sees a "real turnaround" in the company and its partners and staff. When asked if he first saw his mission as CEO as a turnaround mission, he said: "When I use the word turnaround, I mean we were not delivering to the fullest expectation and aspirations that we could deliver, and I see plenty of opportunity to accelerate that progress. We have made a lot of progress over the last year and a half; our stock price is clearly reflective of that. We think we've got even bigger and much bolder aspirations to take the lead in this industry."
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