Citrix Employee Events

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.

Monkey with Scott Kinnear

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.

1996 Holiday party

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.

G’day!

Live near Brisbane, Australia. Software developer currently focused on iOS and Android. Avid Google Local Guide

Posted in Citrix History
3 comments on “Citrix Employee Events
  1. Jason Knight says:

    Having started in September 1999, I was only able to go to one of the full “weekends away.” Lucky for me, the one I attended was, I’m told, the best of the lot: Y2Play, August 18-20, 2000, at the Orlando World Center Marriott and Universal Islands of Adventure. It was the highlight of the year, and 2000 was a *good* year. 🙂 Some of the highlights for me were sneaking into one of the whirpool areas with friends to dip our feet in, around 3 a.m. (until security showed up in a golf cart and moved us along), and attending a certain Citrite’s civil-but-surreal after-party in his 10th-floor suite on Saturday night. Oh, and the night we had half of Islands of Adventure to ourselves was good too. 🙂

  2. frederic serriere says:

    I recall how impressed I was for my first Christmas party as a Dublin Citrite…
    for sure it was great. but this first one was the last one which gave me that feeling..

    guys, don’t think I didn’t like the parties, NOT AT ALL!! it is different when you spent a very nice week-end in London compared to a very nice evening in a restaurant and a pub…

    Would be nice to have those week end away as Jason wrote, back !!! 🙂

  3. jeffreymuir says:

    We all have good memories of these kind of events.

    In a environment that rewards profit and cost-cutting (at the same time) it is impossible to reward employees in this way unless they are considered extremely valuable to the profitability of the company.

    As the company grew, it became more obvious that very few of these people would be rewarded compared to the entire population.

    Also, jealousy is an evil companion to those teams that get to spend time on some special trip or event.

    Either everyone gets something or no one does.

    In general, it no longer an incentive to expect as an employee. Because of the option freeze, you cannot expect gain from that either.

    That leaves you with the MBO program if you happen to be a high enough level.

    The conclusion is that the event gravy train has gone and we should be happy to have events of any kind at this point.

    The funny thing is that it really isn’t about the cost of the event that is so important. I suspect that a well organized event need not cost a fortune. It’s really about that however.

    It seems to be this general cost-cutting mentality that is shutting down all attempts to bring about spending time on organizing it.

    I really can’t complain since Advanced Products Sydney has really thrown some great events on limited budgets.

    It’s the bigger group events (like Asia Pacific or Australia itself) that I have noticed a trend to smaller and smaller events.

    Why do I care?

    These events are very important to the health of the company.
    In simplest words, whatever you put into you get back.

    Employees are happy and feel that they are really part of something special.
    They have great memories of the times that they PLAYED together and not just worked.

    At the core of it, I would say that Citrix has the mantra of “Work hard, play hard” but has forgotten how to play. The mantra worked well for a small company but not a teenage company like Citrix is today.

    It should be “Work smart, and don’t forget to play also”.

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