She has held incredible ten positions for NetApp in twelve years – some of them in the USA. From Channel Business Analyst for EMEA to Sales Operations Manager to her current position as Senior Director Go-To-Market Strategy and Customer Success, she has gradually risen through the ranks. In her current role, she focuses on identifying and capitalizing on new market opportunities. “We have to be smart and think ahead. We must constantly adapt our business model and strategies. What should the focus be over the next three years, where do we need investment, where do we need further development? Within the sales organization we have 2000 employees worldwide. We have to make sure that the machine keeps running,” she says.
As a woman in the tech industry, Diliane Snackers wants to give girls and young women a message: “Take your chances and make it easy. It will pay off.” The herCAREER gave her an exclusive interview about her special career, the corporate culture at NetApp and her learning for young women.
herCAREER: Diliane, ten functions in twelve years sounds very ambitious. How did this come about?
Diliane Snackers: That’s true, but it also says something about the company. We operate in a highly dynamic environment, NetApp specializes in helping customers get the most out of their data with industry-leading cloud data services, storage systems, and software. Think about Covid-19 and the restrictions that forced everybody to work from home. How would that be possible without technology, without data? We work in a super exciting world. I worked for NetApp in the USA from 2015 to 2018 and experienced a completely different environment and a different field. Then I had the opportunity to come back after the company’s restructuring and I took over as head of sales strategy and ops for EMEA.
herCAREER: So your team is very globally dispersed. How does the cooperation work?
Diliane Snackers: My team of one hundred employees is spread across the globe, from Amsterdam to India to the USA and Canada. It’s a very diverse group in terms of gender, experience and where they are in their career journey.
herCAREER: How would you describe the culture at NetApp? The company describes itself as collaborative.
Diliane Snackers: There is always room for improvement. That depends less on the industry and more on the people. But NetApp recognizes the potential when employees collaborate. The company also has launched a new initiative: Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. We take this very seriously and it is also part of our corporate strategy. The philosophy behind it is: We can never win a war as a single soldier. Therefore we have to recognize the very different capabilities of people. As an organization it is also important to create a collaborative working environment for the employees. I think we do this very well. Talent development has also always kept me in the company.
herCAREER: To what extent is the GenY and GenZ an important issue here?
Diliane Snackers: As an organization we have the responsibility to attract talent, to provide perspectives and enable youngsters to come in. At Netapp, we have a great program for graduates who have no previous experience. For example, we bring young sales entrants together with experienced account executives so that they can learn from them. Together they look after our customers, which is very refreshing. We are no start-up, we have little fluctuation – our workforce is naturally aging. That is why it is so important for us to attract young employees.
herCAREER: What are the three things that help you start your working day?
Diliane Snackers: I live in Amsterdam and love the urban vibes. Early in the morning I enjoy my coffee and the view of the city. I am an early bird, structure is also very important to me. I have an assistant who is very helpful and my calendar is super managed. I also go to the gym twice a week to stay healthy and in balance.
I have hardly changed my habits during the lockdown. The only change is that the working environment is always at home. Before the pandemic, I travelled around the world a lot.
herCAREER: You are in your tenth position in twelve years. Have you planned your career?
Diliane Snackers: Even as a very young girl I always said: someday I want to become a businesswoman, a lawyer. I really saw that before my eyes – I wanted to rule the world (laughs). I wrote off the plan. If you want to make a career, it is important to understand what the next step is. It is important to identify opportunities to reach the next milestone. You should never stop learning.
herCAREER: What do you do to continue learning?
Diliane Snackers: Currently I do a lot of research, read a lot of books and observe people who are doing really well. The higher you climb in an organization, the more difficult the environment becomes. There are some tough cookies to crack. It’s not a harsh and disrespectful atmosphere – just different. You have to develop new techniques and have self-confidence. I don’t think I’m a shy person, but it’s not part of my comfort zone to speak up.
herCAREER: You can read again and again that women in the tech industry have to struggle – f.e. sexism in Silicon Valley. What kind of experiences have you had?
Diliane Snackers: I have never had negative experiences related to gender or felt disadvantages of being a woman in my career. This is mainly because there is an appreciative, respectful culture at Netapp. The most important thing is mutual respect for differences, because: Women and men are quite different.
herCAREER: In your LinkedIn profile, a business partner wrote about you that you are a “natural problem solver”. Netapp is looking for problem solvers on its career page. Is that an increasingly important skill for you and the tech industry?
Diliane Snackers: I am definitely not a troublemaker. I am probably a problem solver and I definitely need problem solvers in my organization. I think very analytically, which helps to identify certain patterns and anomalies. It is my natural tendency to respond to challenges in a solution-oriented way in order to overcome them. Being creative and solution-oriented is important for us. If employees constantly see hurdles and problems, it doesn’t help us. Better to say: ok, that’s not cool, how can we change that?
herCAREER: Is that useful mindset for managers to better deal with big changes and crises?
Diliane Snackers: Yes, I think that will help. There is always a pro and cons. But the moment we run away from the difficulties, we slow down progress and future potential. The first question is always: where do we want to go? And then you have to see if the investment is worth it and how to get there.
herCAREER: NetApp also supports the global initiative Women in Technology with events. Why?
Diliane Snackers: Yes, I participated in an event for the first time this year. Not because I believe that our organization has a negative gender bias against women – my colleagues and I are treated equally as men – but because it is an opportunity to highlight the importance of inclusion and different views in organizations. This is not just about women, but basically about allowing diversity. This starts with different perspectives at the individual level, which we should allow in organizations. Not everyone has encouraging role models, so it is good to show the younger generation, but also women of the same age, that it is possible to achieve your goals.
herCAREER: What advice do you give young women and girls?
Diliane Snackers: Never limit yourself as far as your goals and wishes are concerned. Follow your path and keep it simple. Look at your strengths, abilities and potential and think carefully about where you want to go. Never let other people distract you from your path. And immerse yourself in technology: it’s incredibly exciting, so much is possible with data. The healthcare system, the financial system: everything is based on data and technology. It is not boring, it is super cool.