In the Customers’ Corner

Sandra Wenzel, Consulting Engineer, SecOps

In my role as a Consulting Engineer with the Security Operations, or SecOps, team, I work with the sales account teams in the field. The SecOps team consults with customers about their security programs and how we can help them achieve better security outcomes. We also help account teams extend the relationships from the network security team into the Security Operations Center, or SOC. This helps drive the need to consolidate tools and adopt more of the Palo Alto Networks platform and best practices. 

This is unlike any other team I’ve worked within this industry. We’re security people and are focused on security, but we’re more driven by successful customer outcomes and how we can apply our technologies. We’re not looking for ways to shovel tons of our products at them — instead, we’re looking for ways to make them more successful and confident in using our products, protecting their systems. 

My team also educates and engages with the Systems Engineers and partners in the field on the various SOC use cases and trending security topics that are top of mind to our customers. What I enjoy about the role is that my day to day is rather dynamic. Every customer interaction is unique, and each one provides insights on how security concerns can vary based on industry. We are truly working to partner with customers as technical advisors.

Although many who work in cybersecurity come from a variety of backgrounds, I actually studied systems engineering in college and began my career in network security. In previous roles with other companies, I worked to help safeguard data for the financial services and insurance sector, and that’s where I first encountered Palo Alto Networks’ products. But more than the quality of the technology, what I was hearing increasingly from competitors and colleagues was about its great company culture. That gave me the confidence to take the leap and pursue a role with the company.

Family Feeling

Now that I’ve been with Palo Alto Networks for over three years, I can see what those people were talking about. If I had to pick one word that describes the company culture, I’d pick “family.” The family feeling here is what sets this company apart. Even though I work remotely, I work on a small team of just four consulting engineers, so we’re an intimate, close-knit group. I knew them all before coming to work here, and we already had a great rapport. I have the flexibility to work on my own as well as with the team in our offices when I need that camaraderie and exchange of ideas, so it’s the best of both worlds. 

I really enjoy the fact that people in this company, at all levels, are encouraged to engage in dialogue and offer feedback, and that the managers have an open-door policy. But especially within my team, there’s a real openness and a sense of moral support. If they feel I’m struggling or if I need help, they have my back. All I have to do is show up and raise my hand; there are no dumb questions. Being that we’re a team of technical engineers, we’re the throats you choke when things go bad, so having people support you — whether it’s management, your peers, or the president of the company — show up at your meetings, try to kick down doors for you, and celebrate your successes, that is so important, and it’s what I love about working here.

That company culture is a big part of coming to work here too. You need to be someone who has the right aptitude and attitude, to learn and challenge yourself and be receptive to feedback. That’s part of why the interview and hiring process can be long; the company has really grown in the last year, with new acquisitions and larger staffs, but they’ve still successfully maintained that family-oriented feeling, so it’s important to be patient during that process because it’s part of what makes this company special, and it has paid off.

And it’s also important to know that this company values diversity. The leaders here recognize that the more people we include, the more cultures and backgrounds we have offering perspectives, and the stronger and more approachable we make the security community. It used to be that cybersecurity was viewed as a man’s world, but I’ve seen that changing, so my advice is just to show up. Ask questions. Stay curious. There is opportunity in this industry if you’re willing to work hard for it.