At the end of December last year, I was riding shotgun in a 26-foot moving truck headed for Fort Lauderdale. My feet were propped against the cracked dashboard and my weary body was slumped against the rock hard seats, but I couldn’t sleep. Corporate sugar plums were dancing through my head: the tempting idea of working in healthcare technology again, the delicious thought of “coming home” to the software world, and the delectable notion of working in a small corporate environment.

Several days later, I watched the New Year’s fireworks blaze and fizzle. And then reality settled in.

First came the new CEO

This new CEO didn’t fit the image I had conjured in my head. Not at all.

He was better. Right out of the gate, our new leader, Kirill Tatarinov, appealed to my sense of order. He outlined explicitly what our goals were to be – among them to continue to drive digital transformation and to usher Citrix customers into the cloud arena. He talked about achieving extraordinary things: regaining high levels of productivity, touting technology as a liberator and reimagining the workspace of the future. What’s more, he had an action plan. To accomplish our goals, we would narrow the company’s focus.

The winds of change blew away distractions

Our new leader determined that the Citrix strategy of powering digital transformation would revolve around only four core competencies. That’s all. Anything else would be a distraction.

Today, driven by our CEO’s vision, Citrix is moving toward becoming a leader in offering Workspace as a Service. We’re continuing to grow our application delivery, virtualization and mobility business. We’re eyeing industry leadership in network delivery solutions, and our company typically ranks as the preferred solution for enterprise file synchronization and sharing.

I hung on for dear life as I scaled the learning curve

As our new leader shaped the direction and vision, I scaled my own personal Citrix learning curve. At times, it was frustrating and exhausting. (I achieved Citrix Certified Sales Professional (CCSP) status, but I’m not going to tell you how many times I had to take the test in order to pass it. Hint: count the number of fingers on one hand).

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by passionate experts would could share real life Citrix success anecdotes. In the healthcare industry, more than 4 million caregivers access Healthcare Information Systems via Citrix every day. In a financial services or insurance environment, Citrix is an integral part of the digital disruption movement – enabling people to work remotely in non-traditional environments. Thanks to Citrix technology, campus and K-12 learning environments are evolving into mobile-ready campuses. Chromebooks are being implemented to equalize opportunities for students from all socioeconomic groups.

Then the cloud rolled in

As we honed and refined our Citrix focus throughout the year, we also began to add a concentration on the larger world view. We’re now speaking confidently about the advantages of the cloud – speed, ease-of-use, cost savings and more. While each of our customers is at a different stage in the journey to the cloud, we have amassed the skills and the technology offerings to counsel and partner with everyone from the risk averse to the thrill seeker. 

We borrowed from bigger players

As with any company that’s paused and reinvented itself in a year’s time, Citrix looks different than when I joined in 2015. We’ve adopted some large company measures that ultimately will ensure fiscal prudence and talent retention. Yet Citrix still has semblances of the charming, quirky, slightly bohemian personality I saw when I interviewed. It is evolving – in a good way.

Sound bytes sum it up.

At the end of the day, I frame today’s Citrix in the context of sound bytes.

“I should never have to boot a competitor product in order to prove we’re better,” one of our newest leaders stated recently.

I should never have to boot a competitor product in order to prove we’re better.

For a second, my former IBMer’s heart skipped a beat, and then I realized the guy was exactly right. Benchmarks don’t belong everywhere.

With real numbers backed by real implementations, we’ve already proven that our solutions are best-of-breed compared to those o four competitors. In healthcare, for example, 100% of the top ten largest health organizations in the U.S. use Citrix. Implementing Citrix technology is considered a best practice — we’ve earned that stripe and we can be proud of it, plain and simple.

Another of our leaders spoke about relevance: “We have to be meaningful on a global level that connects to people; we’re now in the business of shaping how people think about the future.”

We have to be meaningful on a global level that connects to people; we’re now in the business of shaping how people think about the future.

That’s a tall order, but it suggests that after a year of examination, we’ve found ourselves. We’ve begun to proudly own what’s been ours all along – as this latest positive press about our CEO reveals.

And I’ll end with a sound byte of my own, “I feel like I’m on a fast train to somewhere pretty extraordinary.”

I feel like I’m on a fast train to somewhere pretty extraordinary.

Sugar plums, fireworks and fizzle aside, I’m more glad than ever that I accepted that one-way ticket southbound twelve eventful months ago.