I have been with SAS almost eight years now, but I was a long-time customer/user of SAS software going back to 1983, where I first learned, and programmed with, base SAS software at NCNB Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Back in those days, I worked on a mainframe, not a laptop. After six months of use, I saw how we could speed the development and improve the quality of our data flows from all of the bank's major loan, deposit, and investment systems to create an enterprise view of our asset/liability exposures. I recommended we replace IBM Basic with SAS as our core technology for data extraction and integration. I was given the green light to convert, but I was warned that if things did not go well, it would cost me my job. Well, we completed our conversion months ahead of schedule and the system ran faster, without a hitch, and delivered even greater value than expected. I had a great career at the bank, where I recommended and deployed SAS technology at every career move across 4 major areas of the bank over 18 years. Without a doubt, I can say that SAS made the difference for me in my career progression, and also for many areas of the bank, which ultimately bought my home town bank, Bank of America!
At SAS, every day is a proud day for me. I am proud of the quality of our products and services and the value we deliver globally to our customers. That translates to 4.5 million SAS users at 45,000+ sites in 118 countries. SAS has north of 11,000 employees and I feel privileged to be counted among their ranks. When I heard the news that SAS had once again captured the top spot on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work ranking, I was really not surprised -- more pleased over the external validation of what I already know, namely that SAS is the best place to work by far! SAS not only provides a work environment that is second to none, it also promotes a culture of cooperation and collaboration. Combined that with a workforce that is highly motivated, competent, alert, resourceful, pro-active, hard-working, and passionate about what they do, and you have the formula for success. You also have a company where everyone feels common bonds with one another and takes great pride in what they do and what we all accomplish together on behalf of our customers. I want to express special thanks and congratulations to Jim Goodnight and John Sall for creating the high standards, promoting the right values, and for leading us to this well-deserved recognition in the year that marks SAS's 35th anniversary!