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Posts Tagged ‘Oracle’

Coffee, cupcakes, easter eggs, and innovation

Posted by Louise Barnfield on April 12, 2011

I have very mixed feelings as I retire from Oracle at the end of this week after 21+ years!

Moon over Oracle

On the one hand, since it’s my choice, I’m excited for what my very different future holds; on the other, I know I shall miss seeing so many people, who have become more friends than work colleagues, on a day-to-day basis.

Over the past few weeks, as I drive to the office each day and our HQ campus comes into view, I’ve found myself nostalgically focusing on the impressively architected buildings whose exteriors still look fresh and contemporary, and a darn sight more fresh and contemporary than I feel, after 22 years. The same goes for the interior decor and facilities. I know there are plenty of unsung heroes who keep our entire campus ticking along, unnoticed and often unappreciated by most of us, but, since I can’t hope to recognize everyone in one blog post, here’s a shout out to someone who’s responsible for one of the areas I’ll miss more than many: our 3OP Café, which houses the campus café and bakery, and which (a happy coincidence for me) is in the same building as my own office, 300 Oracle Parkway.

The Café, though once a fairly insignificant portion of a large and varied restaurant, has taken on a character all its own over the past few years, under the leadership of Ian Farrell.

Ian is a shining example of passion, innovation, and creativity – all characteristics that our TalentedApps bloggers frequently praise, encourage, and admire – and, as a thoroughly decent, caring member of the human race, he has even found a way to donate his skills for a worthy cause, such as baking a vast quantity of cakes, cookies, and tarts to benefit the recent Bakesale for Japan!

The photos speak for themselves, yet don’t come close to representing all that Ian has achieved. He came to Oracle five years ago as Executive Pastry Chef for Bon Appétit, our corporate caterers, with a remit to develop new programs and to change the quality of the desserts and bakery. He is now responsible for all the dessert catering for our Customer Visitor Center, and for our three main campuses in the area: Redwood Shores HQ, Pleasanton, and Santa Clara. However, for many employees, the 3OP Café remains our primary window into his world of creativity.

From time to time, I’ve exchanged a few words of appreciation with Ian, but it was only recently, as I reflected on the many changes that I’ve witnessed in the Café, that I truly appreciated the scale of his achievements. Here are a few of his innovations over the past few years:

  • Truffles – Ian’s an experienced chocolatier and takes great pride in the quality of his ingredients (sorry but, as a Brit, I have a very critical palate for chocolate that does not include the more common US offerings!), and the fact that he uses Fair Trade certified Cordillera baking chocolate from Colombia. He started packaging his truffles for special occasions and holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but they are now available and in high demand at any time of year.
  • Chocolate specialty creations – The high-heeled shoes (a Valentine favorite apparently) were inspired by The Devil Wears Prada, and working at Oracle evidently provided his inspiration for the chocolate laptops and cell phones. His chocolate sleds filled with a variety of cookies and treats were extremely popular last winter, and his Easter eggs are now selling like hot cakes (‘scuse the pun!).
  • Cake designs to order – Ian is a master at designing and executing fondant cakes, all the more impressive for being a self-taught skill. Many of his first-time cake designs were ideas requested by customers, and he has now built quite an amazing portfolio of photographs. Customers can order an existing design, use the photographs as inspiration for their own ideas, or simply peruse the photographs to give them a smile while waiting for their latte or cappuccino.
  • Breads – There is now a range of artisan breads to order, and an entire cabinet dedicated to their display.
  • Sugar creations – One of his most skillful accomplishments, and possibly one of the least appreciated in terms of the time and skill required, are his 3D sugar creations. At various times of year, one or more of his designs makes an appearance…a Halloween haunted castle with intricate turrets surrounded by bats and cobwebs, or a holiday train dusted with snow and bulging with cheerful passengers. His artistry and attention to detail always fascinate me.
  • Classes – Ian’s baking classes for employees are becoming increasingly popular. What a great way to collaborate with friends and colleagues while learning a new skill, such as creating and decorating Easter eggs.
  • Social media – Ian enthusiastically embraced the world of online communication a couple of years ago, and frequently highlights the Café activities and offerings through his Twitter account and Facebook page, 300 Sweet Treats. Those of us who follow him are the first to learn of the day’s specials, and are reminded to buy our fresh-baked bread on Fridays.

In terms of smart marketing and business acumen, increasing the variety of product, the display cabinets, and the online communication has no doubt been a huge success but, personally, what I appreciate most of all is the appearance of our Café, and the sheer entertainment value of the displays. Thank you for your passion, Ian, and for always making me smile!

I’m relieved that I will still be able to enjoy the 3OP Café when I leave, as it’s in an open area of the building. So I, and you if you’re local, can visit for a coffee, admire the ever-changing displays, and maybe buy my old man some truffles (I can always hope he’ll share)!

P.S. Since this appears to be my parting post for TalentedApps, I will add that it has truly been a privilege to be a member of such a passionate team of bloggers. I shall continue to read, learn, and be inspired and entertained by their posts, as well as those of our close counterparts in the HR blogging community. Onwards and Upwards, and best wishes to you all!

Photo: “Moon over Oracle”
Source: Flickr.com
Credit: Not Quite a Photographr

Posted in Innovation, passion, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Tales of an acquired employee

Posted by Meg Bear on November 26, 2008

rws It occurred to me yesterday, that in the months to come, many people who do not find themselves rightsized will find themselves acquired into a new company.  Having had the privilege of experiencing this myself, I thought I would give the benefit of hindsight view.

When we were first acquired into Oracle, there was more drama than a high school prom.  From DHL verifying if you had a job (or not) to senior executives crying on the phone telling you how they had failed.  Even those of us who believed we had skills to contribute were left to wonder how exactly it was going to work out.  What was going to happen to our products? our teams? our roles? 

Acquisition is an interesting situation where you find yourself part of a volume discount purchase.  When you apply for a job, you get a sense that they want you.  When you are acquired, you find yourself happy that they had your home address. 

You also are experiencing this change with a large group, resulting in mass speculation and lots of rumors.  My general advice is to give it time and don’t believe every scary rumor you hear.  Anything you worry about at the beginning is probably the wrong thing anyway.  Do your best to not sweat the small stuff and to be flexible to new ideas

Most importantly I would recommend you remember that you have a new job, it is not a continuation of your old job with new a new logo on the paycheck.  Just as you did when you started working for your current company, you need to attempt to introduce yourself often, listen a lot and learn the language of the group.  Like any new job, you need to give yourself (and others) some time to get oriented.  If you take the attitude that your job is new, your expectations are better set.  You find yourself pleasantly surprised when something works as you are used to (vs. annoyed to find it different).  You find yourself happy to have your vacation accrual continue from your initial start date (vs. annoyed to find the vacation policy different) and so on.  With a new job you expect that you are the one who will have to change

Sure, you didn’t ask for this new job, but at the same time you managed to get it without having to actually interview, so you have that going for you (which is nice).  Acquisition is scary for us because we have so little control.  Having confidence in your abilities and taking the time to find out how you can best contribute to the new objectives of the combined company, will help you focus on things you can impact and hopefully help you to quit stressing about the things you cannot.

Change is good for you.  It is good for your skills, it is good for your network, it is good for your soul.  Use the change to your best advantage and give it time for your plan to yield fruit.  If you can manage to stay focused on going forward and not spend your time looking back, you will find the transition will be a lot easier.

Looking back at my own experience, I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to join Oracle.  I have crafted my ideal job, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I have met amazing new people and I’ve learned a lot of new skills.  As a personal kicker I have also managed to shorten my commute. 

I am hopeful that the changes others experience in their own employment is full of similar opportunities.  A lot is about mindset.  Be open for change and patient that it will take time and you will be fine.

Posted in personal | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

girl on a rant

Posted by Meg Bear on December 6, 2007

13_toiletsq_women_inv.gifWarning!  Any relationship with HR and Talent in this post is going to be accidental. 

I was complaining about something yesterday to a friend (for anonymity sake lets call him “Rich”) and he suggested that it might be time for a blog entry, entirely possible this was a “change the subject and shut her up” tactic but I decided to take him literally anyway.

As a bit of background, I should confess that I’m not a particularly good representative for the female norm.  While I do understand some stereotypically female things such as how a “charger” could relate to a table setting vs. just electronic devices, many traditional female “strengths” are lacking for me. 

For example, I have always preferred sleep over complex grooming rituals, I have never enjoyed talking on the phone, I prioritize foot comfort in shoe selection and [gasp] I do not enjoy anything about shopping. 

In addition, I really can’t complain about personal discrimination.  Any “glass ceiling” that I have experienced in my professional life has to be attributed to my gift for inserting my foot into my mouth, more then any bias against my gender.  As a general rule, working in high tech is a good place for a woman to be, maybe since there are so few of us, general expectations tend to be low… probably should think about that but don’t plan to today.

I was, however, surprised to find that the OpenWorld conference had a very strong gender bias.  I was surprised by this since, I personally saw a good attendance of females at the conference.  I know we were there because I was actively using the conference as personal fashion research (was the short skirt and tall boots a good choice?  turns out yes) and I didn’t have any trouble finding a representative sample. 

So, why was it, that the restrooms at Moscone were configured (yes it was news to me as well that there was the ability to configure the restrooms) to have a significantly smaller number of women’s stalls then men’s?  Those of us who had the misfortune to wait in line for facilities were left wondering, was this a bias based on registration numbers?  Or had those who planned the conference not heard about the Women’s Restroom Equity Bill

Then there was the question of the Cow Palace (the venue of the concert/appreciation party).  While standing in the line after the concert this topic came up.  One person in line suggested that since this building was old that maybe it was built before … suggesting it was built before people have been made aware of the need to have a different male-to-female ratio in facility planning.  But, my sharp colleague, who was standing next to me, asked the wise question of “what? the building was constructed before there were women?”

So, I ask the question, should I just realize that tech conferences at Oracle have a male bias?  Or, should I add this to the list of things that women need achieve in technology?  Makes me wonder if a similar restroom bias exists in SAP conferences?  Apple Conferences?  Anyone know?

Posted in Open World 2007 | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »