At the Speed of Technology

By Akira Ikenaga, Systems Engineer Specialist

Akira 1

Before joining Palo Alto Networks, I worked in multiple roles for four different, prominent technology companies. But none of them offered the comprehensive, integrated product line nor the speed of innovation that Palo Alto Networks does. This is why I wanted to come to work here.

I began my career doing sales and marketing for a Japanese systems integration company that was focused on the small- and medium-business (SMB) market. My six years with that company led me to become interested in the security industry. From there, I spent one year as a regional product marketing manager with a public key infrastructure vendor before joining an internationally recognized endpoint security company, where I held multiple roles over the course of nine years, including systems engineer, pre-sales engineer, and regional product manager/field enablement. From there I moved into a sales specialist role working with vulnerability assessment products and services for another major multinational tech company. 

In all of these roles, I realized that I was most drawn to systems engineering because I enjoyed being able to help customers by tailoring technology solutions to their problems. I learned of an available SE Specialist position for Palo Alto Networks’s endpoint security product, Traps, and was fortunate enough to be offered the position in November 2014.

The role involves sales — working alongside sales representatives to approach customers and explain the technology behind our products — but it also allows me to demonstrate the technology in a hands-on way to help address customers’ real-life concerns so that they feel comfortable with our products.

When I first started this job, no one on the Japanese team knew the Traps product, so I had to co-work with members of the Tel Aviv team to learn about the product. This was my first time working with developers and product managers from Israel. The first large deployment of Traps did not go smoothly. At companies where I had previously worked, such issues might have taken several months to address. But the engineers in Tel Aviv were very supportive and fixed customers’ issues overnight. That’s when I began to truly understand the speed and agility present in this company, and it reinforced my belief that this was the right company for me.

I also admired that the company, which originally was strictly focused on its Next-Gen Firewall product, had evolved to develop a full suite of complementary cybersecurity products to secure enterprises. Unlike my previous company, Palo Alto Networks’ products are easily integrated for the benefit of our customers. It’s very exciting for me to see our products really work together in a meaningful way. 

The pace at which work takes place here is very exciting. In fact, the speed of new-feature and new-offering releases is much faster than any other company I’ve worked for. At Palo Alto Networks, I can work with a range of new security technologies, rather than being entirely focused on one product, and we are constantly innovating, so we are able to see our ideas brought to life rapidly. Here, I don’t have to wait for someone else to solve my problems; instead, I’m empowered to seek solutions and to reach out to others for help. Everyone takes responsibility for the quality of our products, and the results speak for themselves.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in working with the latest and best technology in the cybersecurity industry, with a company that encourages and nurtures creative solutions, to consider working with Palo Alto Networks.