Upskilling 400+ System Engineers for Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks (PANW) is an American multinational cybersecurity company with over 7,500 employees globally, recognized for its innovative cyber security platform that protects over 65,000 enterprise customers and billions of users. Of the 7,500+ employees, a large percentage is represented by System Engineers.
System Engineers (SEs) are at the intersection of technical products experts and trusted advisors throughout the sales journey. They work with the sales teams to provide guidance and technical support in order to cultivate trust with prospects and clients. Ultimately, SEs need to understand the challenges of their prospective clients in order to connect and empathize with their struggles and articulate an effective solution.
Given the diversity and geographically-dispersed workforce of over 400 SEs that spans the US, Europe, Middle East, and APAC, Palo Alto Networks needed a flexible solution. Moreover, due to the intricate nature of Palo Alto Networks’ systems, content needed to be relevant to SE responsibilities and the Palo Alto Network framework. Meaning, they wanted a hybrid solution that would combine the training of both the vendor and Palo Alto curriculum.
Palo Alto Networks sought a comprehensive and fundamental training program to establish a base level of cybersecurity competency for the SE team that would bring credibility and authenticity into all sales processes, in addition to accessibility to accommodate their global workforce. Leadership was wary of expensive boot camp-style solutions, thus seeking a new and efficient way to train their teams.
N2K is proud to be an official Palo Alto Networks training partner and sponsor for their annual SE Summit since 2018.
The N2K and Palo Alto Networks leadership team first needed to establish a benchmark for performance targets. This was determined by delivering a diagnostic assessment based on the top-performing SEs’ relevant knowledge and skills. The remaining engineers were then assessed against the benchmark to calibrate a customized, live online, and hands-on training path for the collective:
- Top Performer Analysis (TPA): By delivering a diagnostic assessment to SE top performers, N2K was able to create benchmark performance targets that informed Palo Alto Networks leadership of optimal content configuration and created goals for the entire SE group.
- Group Diagnostic Assessment: Once a knowledge baseline was established, the same diagnostic assessment was delivered to the broader population of SEs. Results of the group diagnostics were formative, meaning that both the individual SEs who completed the assessment and the Palo Alto Networks managers were able to see strengths and weaknesses reporting by individual and by general category.
N2K has been an excellent education partner. In this case, the term ‘partner’ is meaningful and not an alternative for ‘vendor.’
Chris Bridge, Palo Alto Networks
Now there’s a tool to assess team skills and map training to employees’ needs.
N2K deployed a multi-modality, hybrid solution of N2K and Palo Alto Networks curriculum based on a proprietary content library featuring instructional and hands-on content, delivered in both live online and on-demand formats.
400 SEs spread throughout North America, the Middle East, Europe, and APAC went through the program. To accommodate for time zone differences, N2K conducted live online training with a 9am ET and 9pm ET cohort, delivered in four groups in eight-week intervals, at three hours at a time.
After the first year, Palo Alto Networks was able to successfully baseline all team members to the desired knowledge level. Over the course of eight weeks of live online instruction, the average score between the initial diagnostic exam versus the final completed at the end of the course, increased by 15.9 percent.
Palo Alto Networks SE employees found substantial benefits from N2K’s program, enabling them to be more aware of the cybersecurity landscape and to better empathize and connect with their clients by knowing better their challenges.