I'm now into my 20th year of working for SAS. This year in November I'll have my 20th "SAS-iversary" and thus mark the beginning of my third decade here. I've worked here since the Clinton administration. I've met SAS employees who were actually not yet born when I attended my SAS employee orientation.
No matter how I try to make it sound like I've been working here a long time, it's really not that impressive to my colleagues. 20 years just isn't that big of a milestone here. We celebrate the 25-year mark with a bit more fanfare, but even that has become fairly routine. SAS has been accumulating employees since 1976, and the fact is that these employees rarely leave. We all know it's a great place to work, and the external validation -- as in today's Fortune announcement -- only serves to reinforce that.
Years ago during my daughter's "career day" panel at her school, an 8-year old boy asked me whether I "get along with the people I work with." I gave this answer:
We all get along very well. Everyone that I work with is professional, meaning that we all work together to get our jobs done. Now, that doesn't mean that we are all friends. You can choose your friends, but you can't always choose the people that you work with. That's why it's so important to be professional at work so that you can get your job done, even if your coworkers aren't the sort of people that you would usually hang out with. But sometimes you do make friends at work, and that's great too -- it's nice to work with people that you like.
It was a sincere response that applies to any workplace, but it has special meaning at SAS. If you don't get along with a colleague and you think, "well, that's okay - I'll just do my job and hope he moves on soon", think again. Even though I've had several different job roles in different departments, I still work with some of the people I met here on Day One at SAS. Lesson: it's best to be nice to everyone.
If this is true for SAS colleagues, it's even more true for SAS customers. When I attend a SAS user group event it's not unusual for me to meet customers who have used SAS for over 25 years. These long-time customers often love to "drop names" of long-time SAS employees they've met and worked with. They reminisce fondly about early SAS technology, I think in an effort to make feel like a "junior" staffer with my meager years of service.
Me: "Yes, I've been with SAS since 1993."
Customer: "1993 eh? Well, in 1993 I had already been using SAS for two centuries. In fact, I chiseled my first SAS program on stone tablets. My printouts were shipped to me via pony express. Oh, when we got the Wells Fargo wagon...that was a boon!"
My goal: to one day be one of those "dropped names" that comes up in conversation. But hopefully not in the same sentence as stone tablets, or even punch cards.