I remember being interviewed by Zeo about eight years ago here at Palo Alto Networks and wondering, “Aren’t interviews supposed to be nerve-wracking? Why am I so much at ease with a total stranger?” That’s Zeo Woldesilassie for you! His calming aura and positivity are infectious and bring out the best in everyone.
What I’ve learned by simply observing this industry veteran over the years is that life doesn’t have to be complicated (cybersecurity included). His uncanny ability to break down the most complex concepts shows you what Feynman technique looks like in action! Zeo is one of the happiest people I know — full of gratitude, compassion, selflessness, strength, and grace. It is people like Zeo who’ve quietly, behind the scenes, laid the foundation of what Palo Alto Networks is today, constantly helping clinch mega deals and raising the bar for our competitors, such as the Lowe’s deal and creating demo and sandbox for the SE community.
Black History Month is a time to reflect back on what Black people endured in the past to get this far. Zeo believes it’s the responsibility of his generation to pay it forward and that networks like Ujima play a critical role in this effort, through various forms of mentorship, community service, and more. I think BHM provides a great opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of not just the famous Black personalities, but also the hidden gems like the Zeos of the community, who can better serve as inspirations to pursue the American dream, which often looks bleak for the less-privileged sectors within the communities of color.
There’s still a long road ahead, but I know the mantle of responsibility is safe with the likes of Zeo, who keeps striving for the betterment of the community. I’m so fortunate and humbled to work with Zeo, and it’s colleagues like him that make me miss coming to work during this pandemic!