Adobe’s 2020 Founders’ Award recipients share their proudest career moments
Portraits by Kay Lam, Marina Okhromenko, and Devin Watlington.
The Adobe Founders’ Award is one of our company’s highest honors, where employees are recognized by their colleagues for embodying our core values—genuine, exceptional, innovated and involved. The annual, global award program pays tribute to Adobe’s founders, John Warnock and Chuck Geschke, who have attributed the success of the company to individual efforts by employees.
Once a year, the Founders’ Award Nomination Team reviews employee nominations and recommends up to twelve recipients of the Founders’ Award. Here are this year’s recipients sharing their proudest career moments.
“There isn't one unique moment I am proud of, but a culmination of experiences in shifting mindset and culture at Adobe. A few highlights include being part of the Taking Action Initiative, kicking off MLK 2018 activities, advising our Employee Networks, and developing many diversity recruiting events. A few of those events include AfroTech, Lesbians Who Tech, Grace Hopper Women in Computing Conferences, and joining the HBCU Bipartisan Partnership Challenge. My major highlight centers from this past year where I presented at over 20 All Hands and to team members on Social Justice Issues following the 2020 Racial Injustices in the U.S.”
Carita Marrow, senior diversity & inclusion talent program manager
“Winning this award. When asked what I love most about Adobe I have always answered: Adobe’s values - Genuine, Exceptional, Innovative, and Involved. It is an honor to be recognized for exemplifying those values.”
Danielle Vitale, director, customer success
“There are so many, both big and small. I started in the Print/PostScript group and after about 9 years moved to Acrobat/PDF where I still am. The most recent work on Liquid Mode has certainly been the most rewarding of my whole career. But I still remember that one time early in my tenure in the Print group when I spent many days working on a PostScript bug that only happened on DEC Alpha running Windows. I had to go all the way to read through assembly code and finally fixed the problem by changing i++; to i = i+1. It was not a PostScript bug, but a compiler bug, of course! Sometimes you feel most accomplished when you solve the weirdest problems, no matter how small they are.”
Dejan Markovic, principal scientist
“I’ve been here a while, so I’ll mention two of them:
The first was the launch of the very first Creative Suite (not Creative Cloud but Creative Suite). I remember before Adobe’s first large launch event standing on a stage in New York City and just standing there and taking in that we were about to announce this new product we had worked on for a couple of years. I had a slight panic attack thinking “What if customers don’t like the product? What if it’s a flop? What will Shantanu think if it’s a flop?!
The second is the launch of Creative Suite 3, which included new products from our acquisition of Macromedia. We were doing our now normal launch event for the product in New York City and three of us were on stage to announce and do demos the new version. I remember from the stage looking into an audience of over 300 individuals (and thousands more via a live stream) and to my left seeing all of Ops staff in the first row. I looked to my right and saw all of Adobe’s Board members in the front row. I didn’t screw up the demo, thank goodness. Was extremely proud at that moment (and relieved). Many will remember that right after I left the stage, the next presenter came up and the live stream completely went kaput and was down for 30 minutes before resuming.”
Ginna Baldassarr, manager, product management
“There have been many moments I have been proud of at Adobe. Shipping the international versions of InDesign 2.0 and the first Digital Video products using rapid development methodology; offering the Airport—a fast turnaround translation tool—and WOLF—a collaborative translation service—to internal customers; improving the speed of delivery of localized documentation through the use of machine translation; and creating and driving the Globalization Immersion Program where colleagues spend several weeks or months in global offices learning about those cultures, experiencing work in a foreign setting, and engaging with Adobe colleagues in a foreign context. Perhaps my proudest career moment was when the women in Noida organized a meeting during one of my trips to celebrate the creation of the first women’s group and they said I had inspired them. Hanataba (Japanese for “bouquet of flowers”) was created in 2017 and is still active.”
Guta Ribeiro, senior group manager, international experience
“I’m so proud to be part of the team that’s broadening pathways for designers from backgrounds underrepresented in tech by pioneering the first entry-level UX roles at Adobe. Thanks to the efforts of Jamie Myrold, Liz Lowe, Cassarie Soungpanya, Ben Brucker, Jason Linder, Phil Clevenger, and Andreas Kuefer, the Adobe Digital Academy now has a strong partner in Adobe Design. Thanks also to Jess Moon, Courtney George, Dan McKinley, Zach Klassen, Natalie Hoffman, and all our Adobe Design first-years for working to advance this amazing program.”
Jessi Rymill, director of design
“Watching the Japan sales finance team grow and develop into trusted business partners.”
Mark Passmore, director, international FP&A
“Getting the Founders’ Award is actually unbeatable. A few other highlights of my time at Adobe are getting Andi Gall from Red Bull to speak on stage for the Worldwide Sales Conference (WWSC), seeing a video of myself on the WWSC stage, and being part of the Adidas Sales Success teams. A more recent moment is when we were able to launch a project I have been working on for a long time. It was even part of the International Data Corporation (IDC) Q3 Financial Report on Adobe.”
Michael Gamboeck, senior strategic development manager
“I’ve been a huge advocate of our youth creativity programs since the days of Adobe Youth Voices. In 2019, I led an initiative with my Studio colleagues, members of the Hispanic and/or Latinx employee network at Adobe, and many others to bring two classes of digital media students from Downtown College Prep to our San Jose offices. They participated in a career day followed by an art show and sale at The West Tower Steps in the spring. These were kids, predominantly Latinx, preparing to head to college as the first in their families to do so. We measured the success of the spring event by the beaming smiles of the students as they stood with their parents, spoke proudly about their art, and dared to dream about working at a company like Adobe one day. We’re hoping to streamline these kinds of youth outreach events in the future, once the pandemic subsides.”
Patricia Patterson, chief copy editor
“I really enjoy working directly with customers and helping the Sales team close big deals! One of my greatest roles is that of a “connector.” I love connecting people both internally and externally so that they get the answers they need as well as add a new contact to their network. I’m very proud of working with my team to deliver exceptional experiences at Adobe MAX. Having the team work together has made our lab more relevant and engaging each year. And it’s a true pleasure to work with a team of creative and inspiring people.”
Patti Sokol, principal solutions consultant
“Definitely “The Founders’ Award” and being myself every day at Adobe. And seeing many employees live the values that keep the company honest. Most of my career I have chosen whom not to be, whereas at Adobe there are many I want to be like, hence my journey of seeking my better self continues.”
Raghuram Krishnan, director, FP&A
“Definitely the day I joined Adobe in April 2009. I was (and still am) a big Adobe creative products fanboy. Several of my close friends from my previous company and I would dream of working with Adobe every time we drove past the Adobe Noida Office building. I got the opportunity to join Adobe in the middle of the 2009 recession and proudly flaunted my badge around!”
VanLalFela Chawngthu, director, PSSi, marketing and CSMi