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Advocating Mental Wellness

Nicholas Desilas , Strategic Relationship Representative, ANZ

Nicholas Desilas

From Navy to Cybersecurity! A huge career change! Tell us about the career switch!

I was in the Royal Australian Navy for 10 years specializing in radar and missile systems and was lucky to travel the world with deployments to the Middle East, Asia, and America. I wanted to do something different and as I love meeting and talking to people, I thought a career in sales would suit me well. Although I had no experience in Cybersecurity it was definitely an area that interested me and I felt that although not the military it was still a form of defense - helping people where I could in the technology space!

What did you learn in your time in the Navy that has helped with your current role? 

My team on deployment was my support system since I was away from my loved ones. I feel being adaptable to diverse people and situations is one of the most significant learning which helps me a lot in my current role. It’s about trust and working together as a team - everyone plays an important role regardless of your job. The other thing I’ve learned is the ability to perform under pressure. Having been in many escalated situations during my time in the Navy, the only way to succeed and win was by ensuring that you had the right information to make the best decision possible. In my sales role, I always try to gather as much information on our customers as I can, involve the right people in the discussion, and manage this in the best way for both the customer and Palo Alto Networks for the best outcome.

You joined less than two years ago as an Inside Sales Representative and now lead a team of four. Mentoring new team members is a passion of yours - tell us more about it. 
I joined a few months before the pandemic hit and had some fears - I had heard of some horror stories from my friends leaving the military to the corporate world! But I have been fortunate to have had some great mentors in George Lincoln, Raj Sharma, and Sean Duca who helped me navigate the new role. I’ve also found every person at PANW very helpful, often going out of their way to help me understand a concept or invite me along to a new meeting, or even introducing someone else in the company who can help. I believe that this has helped me transition into my new career fairly quickly, so I like to make sure anyone new who joins my team gets the support they need - I know what it is like to be new, not knowing anybody, and clueless about how things work! I enjoy seeing the best out of my crew and watching them succeed - we regularly catch up and chat outside of work hours!

You talked a lot about teamwork - what does ONE team mean to you? 

Collaboration and being open to letting people into your circle. You get the best ideas and solutions by talking to people and working together. 

Tell us a little about how FLEXWORK has been for you.

While remote work and having to deal with pandemic lockdowns meant that I don't get to meet people physically as much as I like, I’m still getting work done, still collaborating with my team and others, and having great discussions with customers - all in my home office. FLEXWORK also provided me with the opportunity to walk my son in his pram while taking a zoom call at the same time, something I enjoy tremendously. It also meant that in between calls, whenever I need to take a short break, I can actually work out in my home office, which doubles up as my gym! Honestly, it has been great for me so far and I’m delighted to have this flexibility. 

October 10 is World Mental Health Day. Mental Health is very real and misunderstood, especially in Asia. You have a passion for mental wellbeing, can you share more?

I have seen people struggle with mental health and this can especially be escalated when you cannot be around your loved ones. I consider myself a bubbly person, and genuinely want to help people - so if I see anyone struggling, or feeling stressed, I always offer to be there, be a walking buddy, or just provide a listening ear. My wife is a mental health nurse so I have the benefit of getting good tips from her if any situation needs a more personal touch. I’m currently part of the global wellness team and we plan to localize some of the great initiatives that have taken place in other theatres. The well-being loop page is a good place to start if you want to learn more about what we are doing as a company.  We are currently working on more initiatives so stay tuned! 

Share a few tips on what you do for your own mental wellbeing.

First, I built a gym at home to exercise any time I want. For example, between online meetings, or even late at night all without leaving the comfort of home. The other thing which is a daily must-do - take a walk outside for some fresh air. Sometimes, I do a  “zoom walk” - having a meeting while walking. There is also a house rule where no one looks at their phone after a certain hour.  These subtle changes in my life help me manage my mental health. 

As an advocate on mental wellbeing, do you have something you want to say to those going through a tough time? 

If you are having a hard time or feeling down, reach out to someone you can trust and talk to. Don’t feel like they do not care about you if they have not reached out - mental health after all can have no physical signs! Always remember to think positive, and if you have been pushed back, remember that the best offense is defense!



Nicholas Desilas Strategic Relationship Representative, ANZ

Nicholas is based in Sydney and part of the JAPAC Inside Sales Team. He is also recognized as the Inside Sales Representative of Year at the recent JAPAC Awards. Nicholas shares his thoughts around having a huge career switch, the importance of teamwork, his take on FLEXWORK, and his passion for mental wellness.

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