AUTHOR: Marlon Richards, General Manager, Costa Rica Operations At Palo Alto Networks in Costa Rica, our growth has been an adventure filled with amazing challenges and opportunities for both our local talent and the business units that benefit from…
Support Gives Strength for a Transformative Journey
Jo Lin, Senior Site Reliability Engineer, Threat Prevention Team
My relationship with myself began to change last year after I found a group of LGBTQIA+ friends outside of work who helped me step into my identity and embrace who I am.
I’ve known I belonged to the LGBTQIA+ umbrella since I was a kid, but I’ve not always presented or accepted myself that way. I kept that part of my life a secret because I was afraid of being discriminated against. I still am, but less so now since finding so many people who are similar to me and supportive of me.
These people helped positively shape and refine my self-image and I gained the confidence to be out and open to the world.
With their support, I’ve undergone a personal transformation and my love for myself has increased dramatically. For the first time ever, I get to wake up every morning and be in love with the person I see looking back at me.
I became a lot less stressed because I’m no longer trying to be someone I’m not. For any individual who has had to hide their identity for any reason, they might understand what I mean when I say masquerading as someone else takes energy and wears on you. I experienced cognitive dissonance, in which my thoughts and actions didn’t align, whenever I had to play someone I wasn’t.
Most importantly, being myself allowed me to develop organically and genuinely. At work, I began with small changes, such as those to my name and pronouns and I’m continuing to reveal more changes as time goes on.
I want to give back to my communities, especially to those who have helped me. I contribute by supporting initiatives to help LGBTQIA+ folk find and accept their own identity through social events and encouraging them to apply themselves to tech careers.
I would not be able to do this easily without either the money or position I have thanks to my career at Palo Alto Networks.
When I joined PANW, I found that supporting and enabling my team members to deliver best-in-class security products and services was highly fulfilling. I really feel good about doing work that contributes to the world in a positive way. I have a wonderful time learning about and building awesome products, which is made even better by building great relationships with my team members.
When it comes down to it, whether it’s at life or work, having that human connection can make or break your experience. The dedication and reward I feel for my work correlates highly with how much I feel a mutual respect and admiration between my team and myself.
Palo Alto Networks has also supported me through the LGBTQIA+ Employee Network Group and I feel more comfortable knowing this group exists. For me, the ENG is proof that I work in a company where I can relate to others on a personal level - and I’m not talking about things like what activities we do over the weekend. I’m talking about the intersectionality that we can have as LGBTQIA+ folk.
Growing up under our umbrella, we face unique challenges. It’s important to find others who can relate to us because we have a shared dictionary of words with which to describe our experiences. Just being in the group changes how I approach work every day.
I would really like to see more LGBTQIA+ folk applying to Palo Alto Networks because I want the company to be massively successful and have diverse leadership. And, the more of us in these positions, the more we can reach out to our own communities and lift each other up.
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