Inside Illumio is a monthly series that highlights the exceptional individuals behind Illumio’s world-class product. 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 Neil Patel, Senior Technical Marketing Engineer. Hear about his favorite part about working at Illumio and what he has learned during his time at the company.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do at Illumio?
I’m a Technical Marketing Engineer (TME) here at Illumio. I know having ‘technical’ and ‘marketing’ in the same title may seem like an oxymoron, but our goal is to help anyone, whether they’re technical or not, understand the value of our technology. When I started my career, my mentor would always remind me of an Albert Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That stuck with me. Now, I take technical concepts and convey them in terms that anyone can understand.
How'd you end up at Illumio?
I’ve been in security for six years. I started out at a large, public technology company as a customer support engineer, so when something wasn’t working right for the customer, I’d fix it. This gave me great context into how customers use products and how products work. Part of my job was to explain these concepts simply. Are you sensing a pattern here?
I moved around within the company and ended up in security technical marketing. That’s when I started to understand the gravity of security. Everyone knows it’s important, but the scale at which malicious actors operate is something not everyone sees firsthand. This made me passionate about being on the front lines of security so I can talk with customers about how to stay one step ahead of threats.
That passion brought me to Illumio. And quickly I realized that’s our secret sauce – passion. Everyone truly believes in the product and recognizes how critical it is. Passion means work moves a lot faster and people are more productive. Illumio secures the most critical information at some of the largest organizations, and Illumineers are energized by being on the front lines and what that means – keeping data and people safe.
How do you stay illuminated during the work day?
When we’re in the office, running into people energizes me. A few of us like to get in pretty early and we always grab coffee together. It’s my favorite way to start the day. I look for their cars as I walk into the office because I’m so excited to see them. I also love our happy hours, cultural events, pizza Fridays, you name it. I’ll take any excuse to hang out with these people.
When I am not in the office, I try to set aside times to check in with different Slack channels. It’s nice to pause and connect with others. The conversations and GIFs are so funny. It makes this whole Illumio thing feel like a big group project.
What is your dream vacation?
Give me three weeks, no plans, and a way to get around. My ideal vacation isn’t just one place, it’s five or six different places within a region. I’d be thrilled to go to the Mediterranean and see a bunch of different cities in Greece. I really like to immerse myself in different cultures and experience something so unlike my life in Silicon Valley.
What is the most important thing you've learned at Illumio so far?
I’ve learned the value of face-to-face communication. Coming from a big company, I didn’t always get to build relationships with the people I worked with. At Illumio I do. Having personal connections with my coworkers makes me feel like we’re all rowing in the same direction. I feel like I’m on a team that’s working toward the same goal.
What are you passionate about outside of your career?
When I was little, I was rowdy. This became especially problematic on road trips, but my mom had a trick to keep me occupied. She asked me to name all the cars that we passed on the road. Honda. Toyota. Subaru. This kept the family sane and sparked my interest in automobiles. Now, I love tinkering on cars, especially old BMWs.
Which Illumio core value resonates most with you and why?
Bring Your Best. When I first joined Illumio, my boss told me, “don’t drink from the Kool-Aid too fast, be inquisitive and curious.” That’s hard to do when everyone is so passionate and truly believes in what they do. Every Illumio employee brings their best every single day, whether they mean to or not.
What do you want people to know about working at Illumio?
It’s just fun. I know that’s a silly answer, but the people and the product make the work fun. Having such a tight-knit community makes me feel like I can be my full self at work. Our leaders are transparent and that helps us trust each other and trust in the work we are doing. I feel comfortable striking up a conversation with anyone in the office or on Slack, whether I’ve met them before or not. We’re all on the same team, working on something we’re passionate about, and that’s fun.
Have questions about the Illumio experience? Feel free to reach out to Neil on LinkedIn!