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 Sumi Gorla, Principal Systems Engineer. Hear about her experience as an Illumio employee and what fuels her creativity.
Tell us about yourself. What do you do at Illumio?
After growing up in India, I came to the United States to pursue a graduate degree in Computer Science at the University of New Hampshire. Upon graduation, I worked in Boston for a few years before moving to San Francisco, a city I had long admired. I spent several years at large enterprises like EMC and Brocade before entering the ‘startup’ space. After all, I was living in the Bay Area, the center of the startup universe! A few startups (and acquisitions) later, I was led to Illumio, where I have been working as a Systems Engineer out of New York for nearly three years.
What does a day in the life of Sumi look like? What are you working on that excites you?
As a Systems Engineer, my role is usually customer-facing. Most days, I am on-site with a customer or prospect, engaging in deep technical conversations or providing demos of our product. As such, it’s imperative to do a lot of listening. For example, where are our customers at in their container journey? What challenges are prospects facing when it comes to security segmentation? I spend hours preparing for these meetings, but it’s incredibly gratifying to engage in a meaningful way.
How do you stay illuminated during the work day?
In my role, I am constantly learning. No two servers are the same and no two environments are the same. I engage with a wide-range of team members to make sure we are providing the best possible service to our customers and prospects and, therefore, I have an opportunity to work cross-functionally to learn from others. At the end of the day, it’s really the team that keeps me illuminated. Everyone brings different ideas and different expertise to the table and I am inspired by the ideation and collaboration that takes place every day.
What do you like to do when you're NOT working?
When I’m not working, I like to spend time with my children (I have two)! We usually do art projects or go swimming. Living just outside of Manhattan, we take advantage of the great museums and other cultural activities that the city has to offer. Separately, I stay involved in community service and also love a good glass of wine!
What is the most important thing you’ve learned at Illumio so far?
At Illumio, we often say, "Be the seeker of truth, not the finder of contradiction." Work can be stressful, and it’s natural to get frustrated or irritated at times, but if you take a step back and focus on seeking truth, it helps you to see the bigger picture. I have brought this mentality into my personal life as well as my professional life and it has served me well over the years.
Which Illumio core value resonates most with you and why?
Run to challenges! At a fast-paced startup, we don’t have an option. It’s part of Illumio’s DNA and it’s a requirement for sales engineers in general.
What do you want people to know about working at Illumio?
I’ve worked at a lot of technology companies, both in the Bay Area and Boston, and I can confidently say that Illumio’s culture is something special. The environment is collaborative, people are recognized and rewarded for their hard work, and the team is supportive. Every company in Silicon Valley has "cool perks," but not every company has a culture like ours.