A little over a year and a half ago, Palo Alto Networks launched a peer-to-peer recognition platform called Cheers for Peers, which enables our employees to give on-the-spot recognition to their peers who have embodied our core values: Collaboration, Disruption, Execution, Inclusion, and Integrity. Out of a desire to encourage such recognition and celebrate the day-to-day contributions made by our employees, we’ve taken Cheers for Peers to the next level by highlighting one winner for each value every quarter and giving them an extra-special surprise recognition, in the form of an announcement during each quarter’s Company All Hands meeting.
So how do we choose the top five from among the hundreds of amazing recognitions our employees and managers give each other every quarter? We’ve created a global nomination panel that is presented with the names of the top 10 employees for each value, based on the number of recognitions received, along with other mitigating factors such as location and position, to ensure an equitable distribution of winners from across the organization.. The panel then meets to have an in-depth discussion about each candidate. By no means is it an easy process to select the top employee for each of these values. Not only do all the nominated employees truly personify the values they represent, but their contributions are all incredibly valuable.
In the first quarter after this program was started, 33,000 recognitions were sent from roughly 8,500 employees. Every quarter since, we have seen the amount of recognitions increase by 20% or more. This last quarter, more than 114,000 individual recognitions were exchanged between the nearly 9,000 employees here at Palo Alto Networks.
Our employees are the driving force behind what we do, and we love to brag about them. Please meet our most recent Cheers for Peers honorees!
Hardeep Kaur, Senior Deals Desk Manager
Integrity is one of those words that’s hard to define — but we know it when we see it. Hardeep Kaur’s peers certainly see it in her.
In her role as Senior Deals Desk Manager, Hardeep structures deals that meet agreed-upon terms of sale. She must constantly strike a balance between the needs of the company and Sales team with those of the customer. It’s a balancing act she performs with finesse, exemplifying honesty and uprightness of character in every interaction to ensure she’s doing what’s right for all concerned. Her embodiment of the value of integrity has led her to become everyone’s go-to resource when it comes to the Deals Desk, explains her supervisor, Emily Weigand, VP of Finance & Operations.
“Everyone looks to her, including myself, to make the right decisions for the company and our customers,” Emily says. “I always know that I’m going to get a very honest and upfront answer from Hardeep — there’s no beating around the bush. She takes her own ethics and morals very seriously, and that’s projected in her work.”
Hardeep’s keen understanding about this company and the nuances involved in making deals help her to be successful. She’ll advocate for what’s right, even when challenged, because she deeply understands what’s at stake. This has earned her respect from her supervisor and her colleagues around the globe, many of whom enthusiastically shared that she is a true asset and partner, one who is willing to support them during challenging times, especially as they seek traction in new markets.
“At the Deals Desk, Hardeep always has to say yes, but she also has to say no. With that comes the need to generate trust and accountability,” Emily adds. “But she doesn’t waver, and in her role it’s important that she doesn’t. I know I feel much better having her on our team. I know she’s always making the right decisions for us.”
Chirag Aswani, IT Software Engineer II
Palo Alto Networks’ commitment to disrupting the cybersecurity landscape has made it a standout global leader in the industry. This doesn’t happen by accident. It comes from a ground-up and top-down philosophy that great innovation can — and does — come from anywhere, and great ideas are nurtured, celebrated, and given wings to fly. Chirag Aswani is just one example of this.
If there’s one thing Chirag is known for, it’s his persistent belief that there must be a better way to do things. Whether it’s his background in user experience or his endless curiosity that fuels his commitment to disrupting the norm, his colleagues are incredibly grateful. Thanks to Chirag’s enthusiasm for innovative thinking, employees are reaping the rewards of several groundbreaking in-house applications that have recently revolutionized the way Palo Alto Networks employees work and connect.
“On projects like these, if you’re just one developer, you might just write code. But Chirag went above and beyond, not just writing code but writing the requirements, the documentation. These things were about 99.9% done by him,” says Chirag’s supervisor, Garen Azizian, Senior Director, IT Applications. “In fact, one of these apps was the one tested by our InfoSec organization that did not have high or medium risk issues … So although he has held a more junior role and is still early in his career, he has been one of the best team members I’ve ever had.”
Chirag’s peers have been vocal in recognizing his contributions too, thanking him for his willingness to create great experiences with his apps, for setting top security standards for app development, for navigating a maze of integrations and challenges, for guiding others, and for generally being ready to jump in and help whenever needed.
“When he makes something, whether it’s a new feature or a whole new application, he thinks about the user experience,” Garen adds. “He puts himself in a user space and thinks how differently he can do things to make them better for the end user.”
In fact, Chirag’s energy and ingenuity have recently earned him a new role as Product Manager, where he will continue to impress his peers with the insights he brings to every task he completes.
Nikola Markovic, Escalation Engineer, E-TAC
When it comes to addressing problems on the job, as far as E-TAC Escalation Engineer Nikola Markovic is concerned, there are no stupid questions, and there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to help a colleague. He’s always willing to step in and provide assistance to anyone who needs it — even when doing so isn’t officially on the list of his responsibilities.
Though his official role is one of support and enablement for a Technical Assistance Center (TAC), Nikola is widely recognized as a subject matter expert in Palo Alto Networks’ GlobalProtect platform. But his helpful demeanor and ease at establishing relationships mean that others feel extremely comfortable seeking out his input in any number of subjects.
“In addition to helping TAC folks, we are dealing on our team with a lot of escalations with customers, and many have executive visibility,” explains Nikola’s supervisor, Igor Tudjarski, Senior Manager for ETAC EMEA/APAC, Global Customer Assurance. “He’s so good at handling escalations that he will jump on things that aren’t in his job description.”
In the company’s second quarter, Nikola’s peers repeatedly expressed kudos for his work, all echoing a similar sentiment: thanking him repeatedly for his valuable help, his stability, his willingness to lend a hand with anything, and his important input into product development — all of which reflects positively on them and the company as a whole.
“Nikola is one of the most knowledgeable engineers in ETAC, tirelessly helping TAC engineers by answering questions and providing guidance, assisting Sales and even the Product teams with his highly sought-after expertise. It is no surprise that he is so often recognized by his peers for his collaboration efforts!”
Suchi Annasami, Senior Manager, Collaboration Solutions
Palo Alto Networks’ commitment to inclusiveness means recognizing and celebrating the individual efforts of its many employees to be champions for inclusion. One such champion is Suchi Annasami, whose peers were particularly touched recently by her efforts to spearhead a company-wide Diwali celebration.
Among the many things lost to the pandemic over the last year was the traditional celebration of Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights celebrated by many Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs around the world. The annual celebration is typically time for families and friends to come together to enjoy feasts, exchange gifts, offer prayers, and celebrate the victory of light over darkness. Knowing this was an important part of the lives of many of her colleagues, Suchi Annasami, who among her credits is a leader in the company’s Asian Employee Network Group, was determined to create a company-wide, virtual Diwali celebration that honored togetherness within the Palo Alto Networks community, despite their physical distance.
It was one of many distinctive contributions in the area of inclusion that Suchi’s peers recognized her for this quarter. Not only were her meaningful contributions to Diwali of special importance to her colleagues, but so were many other actions signifying inclusiveness, from organizing a company Bingo night and ENG Leader social hour to one-on-one interactions in which she offers a variety of technical tips and tutorials to her peers.
“Inclusion is always at the top of her mind,” reflects Suchi’s manager, Steve Januario, Senior Director of IT Business Operations. “She’s always pushing herself to do more. She wants to make sure that when people come to work, they can be their authentic selves, that they feel welcomed and respected.”
This commitment is exemplified in Suchi’s involvement with all the company’s ENGs, Slack channels, and any workplace events that help bring people together. “Suchi firmly believes that if people feel included and respected at work, the best will come out of them,” Steve adds. “It’s just part of her nature.”
Lewis Hill, Employer Brand Communication Strategist
Of course, executing any task well is worth celebrating. Doing it with a smile and always going above and beyond? Well, that’s exceptional.
Judging by how many people within Palo Alto Networks know and love Lewis Hill, you would think he’s been with the company for many years. But, in fact, it’s only been a few months since he joined the company. That hasn’t stopped him from making an enormous impact. His colleagues have been vocal about sharing that they are overwhelmed by Lewis’ generosity, his endless creativity, his infectiously positive energy, and his upbeat attitude that makes the seemingly impossible…possible. His manager, Lindsey Sanford, Chief of Staff for the People team, cites Lewis’ ability to connect with others by putting them at ease, which has established a foundation of trust that allows for a higher level of creativity than the team has ever experienced before.
Lindsey also points to Lewis’ “Midas touch” when it comes to graphic design and creativity — he has a rare ability to not only take on any last-minute request, but also to find ways to make it better and accomplish even more. And his peers celebrate his execution in social media campaigns, conference flyers, presentations, and “all things”! Mention his name and you’re sure to elicit smiles.
“Lewis has driven us to be a better version of ourselves,” Lindsey says.
Palo Alto Networks congratulates ALL its Cheers for Peers second-quarter winners and nominees for their outstanding work, dedication, ingenuity, and all-around awesomeness. We’re honored to work alongside them and celebrate their success.