Citrix has always been very generous with giving its employees holidays. Even in the earliest days, Citrix sponsored company holidays to places like Key West. Perhaps it was a fairly low key celebration but the fact that the company was spending hard earned money to keep its employees happy meant a lot.
Before I get too far into this I wanted to share a story of lore from the December 1992 holiday trip. I was not there yet so I have only heard this story from eye witnesses. The story goes (please correct me old timers) that some of the Citrix contingent went on the tourist train ride (actually more like a small tractor that looks like a train pulling small carriages behind it. At the time it was fairly popular to use this train to tour around the whole island of Key West (it is not that big, really). Unfortunately for these early Citrix employees, the train hit a man. It was very tragic and gave the whole trip a bit of a darker tinge. I have heard that the man did not survive. I remember feeling the shock of this story and also how the people that witnessed it happening where still greatly affected by it.
This happened about the time that the company was fighting to survive and some thought it might be a bad sign for Citrix in general back in early 1993.
Luckily this was short lived and soon after things turned around.
To tempt fate, Citrix returned to the Keys in 1994 (as I remember). Nothing bad happened and I remember that everyone had a great time. It was a family-like environment and most everyone knew everyone else. In some ways it was like small town living since everyone knew everyone else’s business. No one really minded. We just figured this was part of what it meant to be small. I still remember us gathering around the pool one night. I can see Ed and Roger thanking the employees for coming and in general giving good cheer.
The trips that Citrix took were always tasteful and well thought out. Often the employee’s families would come and it really was a time to relax and enjoy.
There have many Citrix traditions based on celebrating holiday times and new releases. In the early days, Citrix Engineering would celebrate by taking a day off together and go cruising on the Intracoastal waterway on boats owned by some of the Citrix engineers. I can remember doing this twice and it was always a great day out. The monkey ceremony was another form of celebration that would usually happen right next to where we were working.
As we grew it became more difficult to keep everyone together at the same event. The last event I went to in America was the 1996 Holiday party. The boat they used for this event was pretty big and it was obvious that it would be difficult to fit the entire office onto the same sized boat in the coming years. It was clearly a boom time and most old timers were having some trouble adjusting to not knowing everyone.
Coming to Australia and returning to Citrix saw the return of big celebrations. Typically these events would happen twice a year and would be focused on Holiday time in December and some kind of excursion mid-year. One year they went to a resort outside Sydney and had a strong beach theme. We weren’t able to go but they sent us lots of towels and other beach gifts. We still have the towels and I appreciate that they sent us all this stuff.
As the years have progressed, there is more concern with cutting costs. This became more obvious around 2001 when there was the big bust in the computer/internet field in general. The drive to hit $1 billion ending last year and the continued interest in giving good value to the shareholders has meant reduced spending for company events. The Sydney office still has events and does a good job of doing the most with the least. They continue to have a holiday party and usually have another event during the year. I’m not as familiar with the US events as I once was.
It was certainly a perk to have all these events. I remember being really impressed with the creativity of organizers.
Advanced Products in Sydney (which I work for) tries to have an event once a quarter. The events are fun and are designed for the team to spend time together in a non-work environment. Often the environment is also competitive which shows a different side for certain team members. We have been cruising the harbor, sailing (actual piloting), go cart racing, movie watching, bowling, and jet boating. There are other events like having picnics and holiday get-togethers.
Our next event happens this month where we get to take a tour of the tarmacs of the Sydney airport. I was surprised that this is even possible given the concerns of the age but I have heard from several people that this should be a lot more interesting that it originally sounded.
Most of the Sydney office is also involved in iForum which did not come last year but did come for many years before that. One of the nights is dedicated to having a party which is when the Citrix people get to let off some steam along side the participants. A few years ago they had a party based on a Matrix-like theme which I would vote for as one of the strangest yet also one of the more interesting parties I went to.
I have heard many stories of the family vacation trip given to the Sydney office that was visited by a troupe of Brazilian dancers for after dinner entertainment. From the pictures it was obvious that it was not fully anticipated what this would mean for such a family based event. However, I also did not hear any complaints and certain people certainly enjoyed taking more than their fair share of pictures. I’m just teasing one particular person I know because it really was not that racy but I will admit that it did seem like there were a few too many different angle shots of the same dancers. 🙂
I’ll probably always will reminisce about the original trips and parties. I tend to be very nostalgic about the past times. The most recent events are always more polished and bigger than anything that could have been done back then. However, bigger isn’t always better in my view. There is a certain charm to knowing everyone and having the time to enjoy each other’s company.
It’s those shared moments and milestones that make all the difference. The power of precious memories is that they never fade and only become better with time. It does not matter that they do not match reality since our mind makes up its own images of how things turned out anyways.
It seems to be the memories are best after they have been aged. The prediction is that memories of this time will look really good about ten years from now. It will go something like this: “I remember when I used to write a post a day and would write about Citrix history in the hopes that others would be interested. Weren’t those days good?”. Anyways, thanks for joining me on this posting/blogging journey. Some day there will be an end but for now it’s still fun and a great way to reach out to a very broad audience.