Many people in the SolarWinds®
community know Robert BlairVega as an outgoing, open, and friendly guy. It’s due, in part, to his passion for understanding people beyond their careers or professional goals. His encouraging and affable spirit has guided Robert throughout his career, helping him rise through the ranks to trusted leadership positions.
So when SolarWinds needed a co-chair for its PRIDE group within the Inclusion and Belonging chapter of the Solarian Life and Communities culture pillar, he didn’t hesitate to raise his hand to volunteer as a leader. “PRIDE is about being proud of who you are no matter how you identify,” he says. “You can evolve, change, and grow in an environment where you’re accepted for all those things that make you amazing. This is the message we’re trying to convey in our PRIDE group—it’s a safe space to be who you are.”
Robert believes nurturing people beyond the scope of their job creates satisfied and productive professionals. To help foster this environment of transparency, he strives to maintain an open-door policy and emphasizes the importance of being accountable to his words. “In my day-to-day activities, I try to do more than ‘talk the talk’ and actually ‘walk the walk,’” he says. “SolarWinds continues to evolve, allowing individuals to make the best career choices for themselves, which inadvertently is best for the business. If it’s good for the employee and they see the value in what they’re doing, their work will be better. If someone has talents or interests, SolarWinds helps them explore those interests.”
In honor of PRIDE month, I sat down with Robert to talk about his career path; his passion for connecting sales, marketing, and customers; and his unwavering dedication to helping people in marginalized communities find their voices.
Tell me about your background and career path.
I joined the U.S. Army right out of high school, and I was in the military for eight years. When I left the military, I joined Dell in the sales department. I've always been good at talking with people, so sales became my passion. In my 10 years at Dell, I went through all the facets of working in sales, from working with data analysts to becoming a sales trainer and sales leader. After Dell, I worked for Sage software, selling accounting software to non-profits, where I met face-to-face with people in Central Texas as an outside account executive.
Tell me about your role now. What does the senior manager of customer marketing do? Why did you pick SolarWinds?
I joined SolarWinds in the sales team in June 2014. I was in sales for two years when the marketing team created a role to liaise between sales and marketing, bridging the gap between the two teams. In many large organizations, these two teams don’t necessarily talk to each other—sales does what it needs to do to drive business while the rest of the company might be focused elsewhere. I was intrigued in this hybrid role, got the job in customer marketing, and I’ve loved it since day one.
What do you love about marketing? And how do you apply your passion in your day-to-day work and interactions?
As a senior marketing manager, I run a team of marketing managers who work in different facets of the organization on a global scale, ensuring we’re providing the right message to the right customers at the right time, no matter where they are in their journey. I enjoy working side by side with the sales team to create engaging campaigns and connect customers to innovative SolarWinds solutions.
You’re also the co-chair of the PRIDE group within the SolarWinds Inclusion and Belonging chapter of the Solarian Life and Communities culture pillar. Can you tell me more about this group and your role in it? How did it start, and when did you become involved?
When SolarWinds came under new leadership two years ago, our new CEO had the foresight to see the importance of large organizations nurturing their employees. SolarWinds has taken the initiative to create diverse and inclusive groups where people can connect. Unfortunately, in many organizations—and in society—being a member of the LGTBQIA+ community comes with stereotypes and stigmas. But in the PRIDE community, we celebrate the diversity of everyone.
When I learned about the SolarWinds PRIDE group, I immediately raised my hand. As a leader, it’s my duty to help inform others because I know what it’s like to, unfortunately, be in the closet. I’m ex-military—I was in the armed forces during “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Everyone has their own journey when they're part of this community, and it’s important when people accept you as a person first, not as a label. Over the years, I’ve tried to be as authentic as I can, making sure I’m seen as a person first. I want people to say, “This is Robert—he’s a leader, he has green eyes, and, oh yeah, he happens to be part of the LGBTQIA+ community.” It’s almost like an afterthought and not the first and foremost thing. It’s also allowed me to educate others who don’t know this about me, opening the door for communication. Through SolarWinds and the PRIDE group, I've been allowed to become someone people can listen to and learn from.
What makes you proud of this group and its work within SolarWinds? Why is it important to have these types of groups at SolarWinds?
As an organization, we attended the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gala, and SolarWinds was a sponsor. It makes me proud that others see us walking the walk and backing up what we say.
We also help our employees immerse themselves in outside activities they're passionate about and then encourage them to share their knowledge. It’s all about education. We want to be a place where people want to come work for us. We want to create opportunities for people to explore passions outside of their original job description and allow for upward mobility and personal progression. I’m proud to be a member of the PRIDE community at SolarWinds because we’re fostering an environment where you can be out in the workplace and still be successful in your career. We have many people in the community, like me, who started in entry-level positions and are now in leadership positions because the focus was on our skill sets and abilities. We’re becoming a beacon of hope to Solarians in situations where they feel they aren’t able to be their true authentic selves based on conditions or cultural norms in their home country.
How does SolarWinds create a more inclusive and diverse workplace?
Our leadership mentality has changed from the top down. We’re seen as people first, and leadership understands we have a life outside of the office. Leadership also ensures our voices are heard through things like our quarterly Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with our CEO. Very candid conversations have happened in those AMAs, and we’ve seen change on the back of those. Everything is transparent.
What do you like to do outside of the office? What are your hobbies?
I love traveling, and my husband and I love cooking together. We love to barbecue and work on projects around the house. We have a 12-year-old lab, but during the pandemic, we also adopted a “pandemic puppy.” We also love to do anything outdoors, whether it’s camping, biking, or hiking.
Learn more about SolarWinds
The SolarWinds Culture Connector Program was designed to help meet the company’s mission of making SolarWinds a great place by creating a sustained feeling of unwavering appreciation, belonging, and well-being through irresistible experiences, transparent communications, and bringing out the best in people.
The Culture Connector Program supports communities internally by creating a safe space for underrepresented employees to connect, collaborate, and develop their careers. Groups include the following:
- People of color
- Early career professionals
SolarWinds continues to grow across all sites and across many positions (engineering, IT, marketing, and sales). If you’re interested in working for an industry leader and joining a culture focused on learning and collaboration, check out our full listing of job opportunities