Cloudflare TV

*Vets in Tech* Welcome to Vets in Tech Day

Presented by Trent Wooton, Harris Hancock, Jacob Evans
Originally aired on 
Vets in Tech

Transcript (Beta)

Okay and I think we're live. Thank you friends again. I think you just saw my face in beer meeting but I get to reintroduce Vetflare which is Cloudflare's veteran ERG to the company and to our friends joining from outside as well.

I'm able to be joined by Jacob and Harris who are also part of the Cloudflare family.

They're veterans as well and active members of the group.

So kind of just wanted to start off with some introductions.

Jacob you want to kick us off?

Yeah sure. I'm Jacob Evans as it says down there. I was in the air force security forces.

Did that for the minimum amount of years and then I got out. Yeah you want to move over to Harris for introductions?

What do you do at Cloudflare?

What do I do at Cloudflare? So that's a funny story. So I'm a full-stack engineer currently technically at the business intelligence team building out customer 360 but soon in a few days actually I will be working on the same team as Harris with the Cloudflare workers.

What an excellent segue to me I guess.

I'm Harris Hancock as you can read down there maybe it's there.

And I'm a systems engineer on the workers team. Mostly I work on the the workers run time where we embed V8 in the edge.

I've been at Cloudflare for four years now.

It's been a fun and privileged journey. When I first started I mostly built out the JavaScript API for the for the workers product and since then I've for the last couple years have been more focused on stability and performance of the service.

It's kind of been a dream come true. Military wise I was in the army, the regular army to be more specific as opposed to reserve or national guard.

And broadly I worked in military intelligence. My specific job title was cryptologic linguist which is one of the world's most opaque job titles I think.

But if you break it down crypto means hidden. So I was a linguist of hidden things or more colloquially a radio voice interceptor.

That was the official job as I listened to radio transcripts and transcribed them from from a target language.

My target language was Korean so I got to learn Korean for two years at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey which some of you may be familiar with.

And I was in from 2003 to 2009 and then I got out became a civilian again went to college.

And again my name is Trent.

I'm a customer success manager out of San Francisco. I've been with the company for a little over two and a half years.

Started in 2019 as a VDR and a recent add to the success team where I manage part of Cloudflare's enterprise business.

For service I was prior Navy. I spent six years stationed down in San Diego on three various ships where I was a Tomahawk computer technician and a search and rescue swimmer.

And that was from 2001 to 2007. As time goes on it's hard to remember the date sometimes.

But I kind of came to Cloudflare and really passionate about this group and so it's really been happy to I've been really happy to see the group grow and members like Jacob and Eric get more and more involved.

And so one thing that I kind of wanted to get into because I think a lot of people don't really understand or recognize some of the opportunities that record opportunities or experiences a lot of service members get while in the military or even enjoying their time off while in the military.

So I just wanted to kind of understand or at least hear a couple stories from you guys either job related or a sea story as we call them some some liberty fun.

Tell me about a memorable moment while you guys were in service.

Should I go first?

Sure. Yeah so my one of the moments when I realized that I was not in my old world anymore I guess where I kind of crossed the veil into this bizarro reality was my first my first technical deployment.

I had just learned Korean. I had just gotten to my duty station in Hawaii and I didn't know what I was going to be doing.

And I got there on the very first day they told me that I was going to be deploying to North Korea.

And I did not know that we had anybody in North Korea at all at the time.

But it turned out we had 24 people who were they're in charge of MIA recovery.

So finding human remains and bringing it back home. And we had a negotiated agreement with the North Korean government where we rotated a team in for a month and a half and then rotate another team in and so on and so forth.

So it was all very normal actually.

And I just was just like part of diplomacy at work that I had no idea about.

But naturally this was terrifying to me. Like this is a really exciting opportunity.

Like I never thought that I'd get to do something like that. But I was also aware that I was not qualified at all.

Like my Korean was good enough to talk about the movies and what I'm going to eat for lunch.

Maybe not to talk to a North Korean farmer about where the graves are.

So I was I was terrified. And we had to go we had to go through Beijing to get to North Korea because that was where the nearest embassy was where we could actually buy for a visa.

And so we flew through South Korea dropped off our equipment which we shipped north and then went to Beijing.

And it was on the military flight. I was on a C-17 to get to Korea and then Beijing.

That was when I realized I was not in Kansas anymore so to speak.

Because I was expecting a military flight to be very cramped and uncomfortable and kind of cold.

Maybe oils leaking on you. And no we sat down on the troop seats and we took off.

And then the guy once we once we were at elevation the guy next to me got up.

He'd been in the military a little longer than I had. And he pulled out a sleeping bag and he rolled it out on the floor and he just went to sleep right on the cargo floor.

And I suddenly realized like actually I'm in first class right now.

This is not this is not a hardship. I'm on a flight and I can just lie down.

That's something I've never experienced as a civilian. And after we ditched all of well ditched shipped all of our cargo north in South Korea.

We continued on to Beijing.

Then the cargo hold was completely empty. And what do you do with that?

Well they don't want you to kick a soccer ball around. But someone produced one.

And so I ended up flying across the Yellow Sea kicking a soccer ball around trying to try not to get in too much trouble.

Peering out portholes down at the ocean far below.

That's my my sea story as it were. I ended up not making it all the way to North Korea because it turned out to be a diplomatic feint I guess.

We were trying to end the program and we needed to go through the chouette where we would forward deploy a team and make it seem like we're actually going to trade things out.

But it was all a charade and I went home early. Anyway, Jacob.

Yeah I can definitely talk about some interesting experiences you could have in the military.

One of my favorite is land nav. And I'm sure that just sent shivers down a few service member's spines when they heard that.

So like you'll get land nav right out of the gate when you come in the military.

What they don't tell you is that doesn't stop.

That's a thing they like to remind you of every once in a while.

And so I had to go out to New Jersey Fort Dix for training. Remind you I was Air Force on an army base.

So that was also fun. Yeah we weren't allowed on the Air Force base.

Air Force training on Fort Dix was not allowed on the Air Force base. So we were told you have two options for fun.

The gym or the yard in front of the barracks, the training barracks.

I was like all right cool. And they were like also third option for fun is you go to land nav training.

It's like okay I'll do that.

Oops. So they obviously they drill you of all the fundamentals of like how to read maps, how to use your tools like your compass, all the tooling around that.

Fun part is then they don't tell you that they're going to go and drive you out in the middle of nowhere and drop you off and tell you good luck.

Find your way back. And to be fair though, to be fair, to be fair, they won't let you stay out there for more than one night.

So they'll come get you if you're really lost. Real life situations are a little bit different and GPS exists you know.

So this is one of those things where it's like you know if your GPS fails out in real life like what are your skill sets to get out of here.

So that was that was fun. We ended up sleeping on top of a hill that like we actually see where we were going and we're like okay we're gonna go that way when you know in the morning.

But some genius decided that their light discipline and noise discipline didn't matter since it was training.

And what we didn't realize is the army doesn't sleep apparently.

So there was just the cadres nearby and as soon as somebody broke light discipline it was just all chaos broke loose.

And then I was running through like the Jersey forests in the middle of the night away from these these trainers that are like yelling things in the dark that are terrifying.

So that's the military. It's fun.

You know that was some bonding moments. Ironically not it was not life or death but it definitely it definitely created that that same you know in the trenches camaraderie between our team and the rest of the unit.

So that was that was fun.

Oh by the way yeah by the way security forces I just need to make clear air force has a special name for the cops in the air force the police and that's security forces instead of military police.

Your land nav training sounds way more intense than mine ever was.

I never had to do land nav and like an overnight land nav thing.

I honestly have the feeling that it was the army messing with the air force to be honest.

It's very feasible very very they're like this isn't even real training we'll just leave these guys out in the middle of nature and just see what happens.

Did they give you hardship pay for being on an army base? No comment.

It sounds a lot like the navy's seers or seer training which is like their survival training in the deserts of southern California.

I think one of my like most memorable moments while in the military or like forming moments was probably during my first deployment.

We were in the gulf or in the middle east region and being part of a strike group effectively meant that we were the team of six that as soon as tasking or notification came to the ship we took care of all the kind of the satellite download of data and started planning a lot of tomahawk strike missions and so I think our this evolution or this series of events started on a Friday evening while we're at sea and so we've just started a regular training regime that is basically we get tasking do all this planning mock firing and then lay kind of stand down for a little bit.

Whenever I notice things are starting to get a little bit different is that after each training scenario we just reloaded the systems.

We basically turned all the computers off and did back-to-back repeated live exercises not live but live training scenarios that could last anywhere from three to four hours and after about 48 hours of this training we were requested to a boardroom for some kind of real incoming tasking and we noticed that the ship's direction changed and with haste and so we could tell that the stress was definitely starting to be applied and then all of a sudden I found myself in what we call the combat information center or CIC which is just a black room with a million computers that's where all the radars that's where all the navigational instruments are and then we drew our curtains around our computers and just went to task planning for what could have been a real scenario but it was after about three or four days with maybe an hour and a half to two hours of accumulated sleep that we finally got to go topside for the first time that week on Thursday.

That's the first time I had seen daylight but after spending four days with my team what I realized is like I love my team.

There were some bonding moments and a realization that like I succeed best with my team and whenever we went back up topside for the first time that week it was not just me it was me and the rest of my team kind of blowing off steam but not making all the inappropriate jokes that we wish we could have made in front of the officers but it was it was one of those fun like we all want it together and kind of at the end of the week we pulled into the sandbox or Bahrain for the layman and it was the first time and probably the last time in my military career that I slept through liberty call and so that's that's the moment whenever you pull into port and they let everyone kind of go out and have their fun me and the team were just so exhausted from up from a week worth of tasking that the first thing we could do is just go straight to sleep.

So that's probably one of my... Did you find out what what the big to-do was?

Why the haste? Yeah yeah we did. I mean that I believe is still classified and so I can't really get into that but it's really we we pulled right into Bahrain and went into after we were allowed to sleep for a few hours right into a debriefing with like a lot of the commander commander 5th fleet and a lot of the senior leadership there but it was it was interesting to say the least but kind of on the less heavy side and like some of the some of the like the silver lining to a lot of service members is kind of the experiences that you get kind of outside of the office or off the ship off base on what I like what me and a lot of service members like to call sea stories and kind of getting into one of my favorites is the time that we pulled into Sendai, Japan.

Me and my Liberty buddy we jumped on a train and in our typical routine whenever we got to go on Liberty was get as immersed in the culture as possible and so when everybody was getting off the train in the most busy kind of metropolitan part of town we would kind of wait a couple of train stops and get off on more of a rural area and kind of dive ourselves into kind of the culture we'd try and find really we would try and find a restaurant with authentic food and no English on the menu with just a ton of pictures that we can point and say hey that looks great can we get it and long story short we ended up at at one restaurant that it was the first time ever having teppan they brought a huge plate full of raw meat to us and then pulled the center of the table off and I didn't speak a lick of Japanese and so like I just put my hands I was like what do you want me to do with this and so they in broken English they helped us kind of cook the food on the on the teppan pan ourselves they brought a big old bowl of spiced oxtail soup it was probably one of the most like kind of enriching environments I've been in and then all of a sudden my buddy and I received a bottle of sake neither of us had ordered this bottle of sake and so we were kind of looking around wondering where it came from and we found we found the culprits it was a family that was sitting traditionally in one of their corners they ended up inviting us over helped us partake in the sake all the same time probably consuming a few additional bottles with the family and long and at the end of the evening the three of us were like or me and my liberty buddy were trying to understand how we were going to get back to the boat because the trains were no longer running and we weren't too sure how to get a taxi and so we're sitting out front we're like um how are we going to get back and a cop pulls up well we're like oh no two fairly uh enjoyable sailors um thought we were about to get in trouble and then one of our hosts from that table gets out of the ship so we got in this police car with this we now we've come to find out he was a uh a cop uh and so he drove us down to the base and we thought okay he's just going to drop us off at the front of the base we'll go through the gate and stumble our way back to the boat no we notice that the gates start or they ask for our ids through the window they open the gates we start proceeding i was like okay he's going to drop us off at the foot of the dock or at the foot of the pier all right no the gate opens again we show our ids and now we're driving down the down the pier and so i i knew that this was going to raise some eyebrows with uh the watch on the on the quarter deck and sure enough uh we see the the petty officer of the watch uh the the chief duty officer uh the roving patrol and the and the command duty officer all waiting for us on on the quarter deck assuming that we were about to be in a lot of trouble they see us get out give the police officer a giant hug and then we stumble back up the boat ask for permission to come aboard and they're just looking at us like what just happened and so it was one of those times where you like if you go looking for kind of an involved experience to really understand the culture like sometimes the culture will definitely embrace you and kind of show you the time that that that you went out and set out to find it was one of those moments i wish i could always go back to character jacob any uh any fun liberty stories i i um most of my like off-time stories are are not palatable um in this uh in corporate environments i'm afraid um the uh i would just say like the some of my favorite times i guess were the um the weird liminal space between uh being being in garrison on my home base and being deployed because uh in my in garrison i had a humble barracks room i i shared a bathroom with my next door neighbor it's not very big lots of cockroaches um kind of you know mediocre life experience and then when you're deployed maybe you have a cop to sleep on maybe it's maybe it's super dirty um maybe maybe you're being shot at uh it's a kind of an austere environment you probably don't have reliable Internet but the times in between where you're traveling from home base to where you're deploying well you if you're if you're on a little tiny team like i pretty commonly was uh being in military intelligence uh they they uh the army will put you up in a five-star hotel and so i constantly had these experiences going to korea going to places in the philippines where i'd i'd find myself uh being showered with luxury for three or four days have a rooftop pool just kind of the surreal stare at the sky the world was so beautiful uh experience and then immediately get thrust into some far more austere environment and back into the dirt kind of yeah it was it was a it was an interesting contrast and i i i i liked it in a uh an ineffable way it's hard to describe why why i was so i've got a wide range of human experience i suppose that's why i left that jacob yeah i don't i don't have uh a good like company stories as well uh i like to joke that security forces is very similar to um to a lot of like army culture and in that way um uh but um i mean i could talk a little bit about like what kind of kind of brought me to Cloudflare as as a veteran um it it really comes down to the fact that in the military some major things that that if you don't go into the military with you come out with the military with and that would be things like camaraderie teamwork a mission so having a purpose and so i tried finding that in in a lot of different things like i came out and i did a lot of volunteer work i started volunteer organizations uh like search and rescues um participated in veteran driven ones uh which we'll talk about in a later segment today uh as well as like mission continues which is a great organization uh so what Cloudflare really had for me was this concept that constantly has been with me my whole life which is to serve and protect uh to help people and Cloudflare's mission is to make the Internet better and that's shown through projects like athenian and galileo that's not just make the Internet better for people with money it's make the Internet better for everyone and that drives really close to home for me i think that's a pretty common story for a lot of people that end up being attracted to Cloudflare is kind of the mission of Cloudflare how we are kind of platform agnostic and we don't really have a say in whether or not we approve or disapprove of what we provide it's a fair platform kind of my road to Cloudflare came about a little over 10 years after my separation i was in the financial industry for a long time but really missed a couple of the points that jacob just mentioned which is the camaraderie the the team effort and the aligned mission uh my road actually started with a a simple connection with another veteran here at Cloudflare i tell the story a lot i i definitely give chris canannon props hopefully you're watching uh chris canannon was a vdr manager at the time and there was a vdr position available i was looking to make a transition into new industry uh from being a financial advisor and simply reached out to him and kind of pinged the veteran community is like hey look noticed you noticed you served in the marines saw that this opportunity was available would you be open to a conversation that conversation long story short that conversation leads to me having this chat with you guys now uh but it was really kind of the the team atmosphere the aligned goals that really kind of sealed the deal and me wanting to be here when that offer came i think as in a lot of people's opportunity here it was a life changer and comes with a lot of a lot more job satisfaction than i think a lot of people may have had uh in previous opportunities i'm glad you mentioned or both of you mentioned the uh importance of uh teams and camaraderie because i that's something that i hadn't quite realized was uh something that connects my my military experience with my Cloudflare experience my own my own journey here um i got out in 2009 got out of the army in 2009 joined Cloudflare 2017 so there was an eight-year gap and in those eight years i went to college got a computer science degree um i it was kind of an obvious choice for me though it was uh computer programming has always been my hobby even when i was when i was in the army i i would um i i would work on little hobby projects nothing nothing professional but i i fixed a bug in handbrake once when i couldn't rip a doctor who dvd things like that um and i after after college i worked at a tiny tiny startup a little robotic startup called barobo uh and the cto of the company was my my best friend growing up i'd known him since we were three and four years old so that was that was kind of a dream come true uh in some respects it was a very struggling startup though so it was it was wasn't really growing and and i realized eventually that neither was i growing and the team wasn't growing the team was shrinking actually and i i really i wanted someone who spoke the same language as me that language being c++ actually um and i i uh i had never heard of Cloudflare until i started contributing to uh an open source project called captain proto and the author of that project is kenton varda who is the principal engineer on the workers team and that's how i ended up here um it was kind of all kind of happened really quickly once it once it did happen once i did hear about Cloudflare i i was here within a couple weeks a couple months i think and i found i found that broad diverse team that is constantly growing yeah and as i mean as Cloudflare grows i think many like all three of us have been here long enough to see exponential growth in in the size of the company uh harris you were here before me but i think we're on class 192 i think it is today or 194 um however a little over two years ago i was class 123 and the company was i i thought the company was a fair size at 800 and some some 870 something people when i started and so now it is more than doubled and it's great to see how how fast the organization is scaled plus i think one thing that kind of benefits us is like we as the veteran community we get to have a hand in kind of guiding hiring managers to not only hire more veterans but within our community anyone who has served knows that the veteran community is probably one of the most diverse communities to work with and so i think from the veteran community Cloudflare gets to benefit from having uh expert qualified candidates while at the same time meeting a lot of these uh equity and diversity initiatives that we're looking to fill but it looks like we are running on time and i like to cut this out thank you guys for for joining me