Inside Illumio is a monthly series that highlights the exceptional individuals behind Illumio’s world-class products. Each post will take a peek behind the scenes to spotlight a member of our team. Come get to know us a little better and learn more about what makes Illumio’s culture so unique.
This month, meet Anna Brafchak, Senior Manager of Project Management at Illumio. Hear how Anna’s 22 years in the U.S. Air Force impact her work at Illumio, why it’s impossible for her to pick the most important of Illumio’s core values, and how Illumio’s leaders have envisioned and supported her career growth.
Tell me about yourself. What do you do at Illumio?
I’ve been at Illumio for nearly 7 years as a technical project manager. I’m currently a Senior Manager of Project Management, and my role is to ensure our growing list of Government customers experience successful implementation of Illumio. I cover both the tactical and strategic pieces of the implementation process for these unique customers.
I get involved toward the end of the sales process to understand what the customer is looking for, what their goals are for Illumio, any timeline expectations, and what their environments look like. Once I gather this information, I can create a team of the key players who will be essential for implementation and get the project started. This project management side of my role is all about getting the tactical details right: the people, information, and timeline.
It’s then that I step more into my customer success role which is typically more strategic. I develop relationships with the leaders in the customer’s organization and make sure that I’m communicated to their concerns. I make sure the CISOs and CIOs are comfortable with our implementation plan and understand the value that will come from Illumio.
What made you interested in working at Illumio?
When I was looking for my next role, I wanted an atmosphere of purpose and focus, and I found that and more at Illumio!
I joined Illumio at a really pivotal time for the company. We were starting to work with several large, well-known organizations. I had spent 22 years in the Air Force, and I enjoyed being able to use my skill of working within large organizations and bureaucracies to manage successful implementations.
I’m impressed with the energy, focus, determination, and optimism of Illumio and its leadership – from when I started 7 years ago to today.
What does a day in the life of Anna look like? What are you working on that excites you?
That’s a difficult question! My day starts anywhere from 5:30-7:00 AM because I live in San Francisco but primarily support customers and Illumio teams located on the East Coast. A typical day is a mix of customer meetings on the status of their projects and internal status meetings.
I’m always on email coordinating demos, technical discussions, and contract administration with customers and internal teams. I’m also continually learning more about how to improve my skills as a customer success advisor for customers.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at Illumio so far?
At a startup, growth is expected and exciting – but the change that comes with it is never comfortable. If leadership reflects both respect for the past and enthusiasm for the future, employees like me will be happy to stay on board and work for common goals despite the discomfort of change and growth.
When I joined Illumio, it was still small enough that each new hire had interviews with all of the senior leaders. They took the time to do this early on to make sure new employees were going to contribute to the sense of purpose at Illumio. Though Illumio has grown past this kind of interview process, I still see their work to embed a strong sense of purpose into Illumio’s culture all these years later.
What are you passionate about outside of your career?
I’m passionate about relaxing and taking time off! But really, I seek to RELAX outside of my career. I’m bad about taking vacations, so when I do have time away from work, I focus on nourishing my family and friend relationships. I do expect to be passionate about my first grandchild this fall!
Which Illumio core value resonates most with you and why?
It’s impossible to pick just one! Run to Challenges and Seek Truth are two of my favorites because I can’t think of a problem we can’t solve with those two working together. Honestly, I see all of Illumio’s core values working together in a synergistically group – you can’t speak to one value without it relating to all the others.
Throughout my career, I’ve been part of so many workshops where you put everyone in a room and try to come up with your core values. Usually, the results are just okay, not great. But when Illumio’s leadership introduced our core values for the first time, I thought, “These are perfect!” I’ve never been so enthusiastic about core values.
The six they picked work together to get Illumio where we need to go. Illumio wouldn’t be going anywhere if we weren’t running to challenges. And you're never going to overcome a challenge without getting to the heart of it – that's where seeking the truth is so important. These two are especially important as I work together with customers to help them run to challenges and seek truth in their own organizations during the implementation process.
What do you want people to know about working at Illumio?
I’ve been at Illumio longer than any other job in my life. Though I was in the Air Force for over two decades, I had a new role every two or three years, from teaching ROTC to managing the software for the missile warning system.
The fact that I’ve been at Illumio for so long almost shocks me, but I never get to the end of my workday and wish I could do something different. There are always new customers and new challenges. How can I not keep rising to the next challenge?
I think the key to my longevity at Illumio has been the opportunities for growth. I never imagined that this would be the way for me to grow, but my leadership envisioned it for me. They saw my career growth in ways I wasn’t able to.
Interested in joining the team? Check out our career openings.