An Ever-Changing Landscape

Trevor Coetzee, Director, Regional Sales, South Africa

I’ve been in sales for most of my life, and I’ve worked in sales in the cybersecurity industry for 19 years. What has kept me in this industry for so long is that the landscape is always changing. When I first began working in the field, I was making 50 or 60 cold calls a day, cybersecurity was just antivirus software and a firewall, and people were still doing data updates via CD and floppy disks. I was intrigued by the fact that security was increasingly important, and I realized that in this business, I would never get bored. What started with antivirus and firewalls shifted to content filtering, vulnerability management, compliance, and now 3,000 new security vendors handling all kinds of niche technologies. The threat landscape is constantly changing, and so does the work as a result. I got hooked very early on by the fact that I’m continuously learning, so I’ve remained in the industry. The only constant in cybersecurity is change, and that’s very exciting.

In my role as Regional Sales Director, I work from Johannesburg, South Africa, and oversee a growing cybersecurity market in the South African Development Community (SADC), a region comprised of 16 member states. Since joining Palo Alto Networks less than a year ago, I’ve watched this territory grow from where we had only four people on our team to now having almost 20 by the coming fiscal year. What’s most exciting to me about my role with Palo Alto Networks is the sheer speed of change, growth, and acquisition, as well as my ability to see the business as a personal franchise and to be autonomous while accountable in helping drive that growth.

Part of my job has been, over the last few months, to grow our team by bringing on talented individuals to help grow our presence in the region. I’ve always ascribed to the philosophy that you should hire people stronger than yourself, who can do the job better than you. I’m proud to say that we’ve assembled a team of tremendously talented individuals who each challenge and push each other, so that has strengthened our team as a whole. So in a very short space of time, we’ve jointly assessed where we need to go and where we want to end up, and we have the best metrics and processes for getting there. For me, that’s a success story.

What Sets Us Apart

I’ve worked for a lot of other companies in this business, but when I was ready to make a career move, Palo Alto Networks really stood out in terms of its technology, its organic growth, its research and development, its excellent leadership, and its customer relationships. Even before coming to work here, I noted that it continually hired excellent leaders, and its Net Promoter Score (NPS) and CSAT Score — which are crucial measures of customer satisfaction — were always in the top quartile, which is beyond great. Its execution, day in and day out, in all the ways that count, was very appealing to me and told me this was a company I could truly grow with.

Also, the other companies I’d been with are mature, stalwarts in the business, while here is uncapped potential, a company that drives technologies and revenues like a pre-IPO startup, and that startup mentality made it very exciting for me to get on board. We have the backing of a huge organization, but with the ability to be entrepreneurial.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was that it’s the little productive actions, repeated consistently over time, that add up to the difference between failure and success. What I have observed about Palo Alto Networks is that it consistently, successfully executes those productive actions that to me spell out success and longevity for the company, and for my career here.

I have also always believed in the principle of the Say:Do ratio when it comes to leadership — it refers to the difference between what you say you do and your actual execution. There are plenty of leaders who talk a lot of hot air and deliver nothing, but the leaders with strong Say:Do ratios, the ones that do what they say they’re going to do — those are the ones you go to war with, and that’s one of the things that really stood out to me about this company. The leaders maintain integrity and have a high Say:Do ratio, and that tells me I’m in the right place.