Today, Robin Cline is the director of facilities at Riverbed, a prominent role at one of the leading technology companies in San Francisco. If you were to ask her what she has learned to get to her role, she would say that building something out of nothing has defined her character and work ethic the most.
Her first administrative endeavors both ended with empty pockets. First, she operated a health club in Colorado, but after a depressive state settled on the economy, she and her then-business partner were forced to sell in 1989. With nothing to their name, they moved to California, where Cline eventually joined Coast Capital Mortgage.
Upon her arrival, Cline was hired as a receptionist and bookkeeper. After learning about the real estate business, though, her ambition pushed her to reinvent herself and explore new opportunities.
“I thought, ‘How can I better myself? I’m really interested in the real estate side of things,’” Cline recalls. “The owner at the time encouraged me to get my real estate license, so I did.”
That would eventually lead Cline to buyout the previous owner and lead the company. But after 20 years, Coast Capital Mortgage met a similar demise to Cline’s Colorado health club following California’s 2008 housing crisis. Once again, she lost everything, including the direction of her career path. The real estate industry was underwater, but her mentality stayed afloat.
“Some people take out stress in a negative way, but I’ve always seen the glass half full,” she says. “I work best when I have the least. When you lose everything, you’re at your best resources; you have to make it work. You’re learning, taking on new things, and working out of your comfort zone. That really escalates the whole learning process.”
With nowhere to turn, a friend reached out to Cline regarding an office coordinator opening at Riverbed, an IT company that develops products to improve application performance across wide area networks (WAN). After accepting the job, though, she didn’t settle for the limitations of a singular position. Her manager at the time opened her eyes to the company’s real estate lease portfolio, including 70 sites in 37 countries. And he knew her previous leadership experience would help her manage it successfully.
“I put in the long hours,” Cline says. “I’m used to that drive needed to be successful, and make your desires happen. That really helps me move forward.”
Today, Cline still manages Riverbed’s lease portfolio, as well as its nine California-based offices. Her daily routine revolves around building regulations and documentation that one doesn’t typically picture when they look at a Riverbed office. Her passion for the director of facilities position is also helping the company reach new heights without being limited by space or unjust conditions.
One of her most successful team achievements involved moving the company’s San Francisco headquarters in 2014 without disrupting the office’s 600-person staff from their work. She, along with SideMark—a local furniture services and workplace consulting company—took one month to move the entire company. They transported one floor of employees and the furniture at a specific time to the new building each week. They needed to move each floor’s furniture, clear any wear and tear from the old building, adjust their resources to their new floor plan, and repeat until all six floors were completed. Cline and her team inspired employees to believe that all of this could be done while the project’s success came to fruition.
Cline also demonstrates that endurance when working with overseas offices. Riverbed wants to give all of its offices the same amenities and environment, but language barriers, government/country regulations, and approval processes make her job harder than usual. But Cline sees that as a beneficial hurdle.
“It’s interesting to learn the rules and documentation needed for each country,” she says. “It [helps me] ensure all necessary guidelines are covered when I’m doing a project.”
It’s more than evident that Cline sees challenges as opportunities, and it’s this persistence that gives her the confidence to take on any problem. While some may view her professional history with worry and remorse, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Everything happens for a reason,” she says. “Had I not gone through that, I wouldn’t be in the position I hold today. It’s so rewarding to say I did it.”
*Editor’s note: At the time of press, Robin Cline is no longer with Riverbed Technology.
Steadying the Work Flow
Riverbed is currently developing new design initiatives to promote better communication and project execution. Its director of facilities, Robin Cline, says these initiatives should also result in an increase in client satisfaction. The company’s most recent experiment can be seen at its Bangalore location, where ordinary meeting spaces have been transformed into collaboration meccas.
• A collaborative bullpen with a long, rectangular table and a large monitor to encourage cross-departmental brainstorming
• Casual spaces for more impromptu meetings
• Greenery that’s native to the area in order to blend the inside and outside environments
• A sleek, wooden awning to make the lounge more in line with an outdoor patio
So far, Cline says, the feedback from staff about the balance of natural elements with technological ones has been positive. “These areas prioritize people to talk face-to-face, even though we’re kind of getting away from that as a society,” she says.