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Departing to Pursue a Dream; Returning to Fulfill a Mission

Welcome Home Jian Chen Systems Engineer, Global Accounts (3)

Wyman Frederick, Strategic Relationship Representative

When I left Palo Alto Networks last year, it was for a very important reason.

I wanted to honor my father, who died of COVID-19, by pursuing a dream that he and I shared for me to play professional golf.

My dad was an avid golfer and I have been playing since I was 6. Growing up in Miami, Fla., I played in junior high and then on my high school team, where I earned a golf scholarship to college. My dream was to always be a golf pro.

After college, I joined several golf clubs hoping to meet that investor who would give me the chance to do what I love to do on the PGA Tour. But that didn't happen. At 30, I got married. I had twins. I had to get a real job.

I started my career in technology in 1999, which was really a blessing. Many years later I went to work for Avaya selling IP PBXs. One of my managers at the time had gone on to Palo Alto Networks and called me in 2018 and said: “We're growing out here. You're a great salesperson. I'd like you to join.”

My youngest son was a senior in high school in South Florida that year, so I went to Texas ahead of my family. I lived in a hotel and walked to work because I didn't have a car, but I was happy being part of the renewals team.

After COVID-19 hit in 2020, I came back to Florida to work from home. But I still had that passion, that dream to be a golf pro. Now, at age 53, I was looking to qualify and play on the Senior PGA Tour. 

My dad came down with COVID and was sent to COVID ICU in February 2021. He and I talked about me going to the PGA Senior Tour Qualifying School in November of 2021.

He passed away in March 2021, so I went to my boss and said: “Listen, I really need to do this, regarding my golf dream. It's been a dream of mine and my father's and my family. I really need to go out and see if I can do what I say I can do.”

Working here actually allowed me to save money and sponsor myself. I had a few folks in Miami whom I've known for years who said they wanted to sponsor me, so I took the chance.

But in December of last year, the investments had not come through. By January, my savings account was dwindling. Again, I had to do something.

I reached out to a manager here and asked if there was a spot. And he said: “For what you did for us and the work ethic and the passion that you put into the job, there is always a spot.”

Of course, I had to go through the hiring process, and was welcomed back. I took all the energy I had invested in becoming a golf pro and put it into my work, coming in early and leaving late.

Returning to Palo Alto was like riding a bike. And cybersecurity is the place to be. Every company needs it and we are the best at it.

If you have the right attitude, and you see the glass as half full, things will work. No matter what happened, I kept that mindset – and I kept the attitude that it's a blessing to have this job, remembering that “The Road to Success is Always Under Construction”.

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