Cloudflare TV

Vets at Cloudflare

Presented by Neil Sanchez, Allen Rinehart, Meghan Marshall
Originally aired on 

Vets at Cloudflare showcases veterans and members of the military community that have successfully transitioned from a career in service to a career in the tech industry.


Transcript (Beta)

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, everyone. My name is Neil Sanchez.

I'm a Customer Success Manager here at Cloudflare. I've been here for about a year and a half now.

I'd like to welcome everyone to Veterans Week at Cloudflare and also welcome everyone that's tuned in to today's session, Vets at Cloudflare.

We'll be asking two of our employees a few questions on their experience as vets and their transition into the corporate world, whether that was Cloudflare or a previous company.

So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome Meghan Marshall and Allen Rinehart to the panel.

Meghan, how are you? I'm well, how are you?

Doing great. Thank you so much. Allen, how are you? I'm doing great, Neil. Awesome.

Phenomenal. So, first of all, I'd like to thank you both for being here today and sharing a little bit of your background and history with us.

And so I'd like for you to introduce yourselves, where you're from, and what you do for Cloudflare.

So, ladies first, and we'll start with Meghan. All right. Well, I'm Meghan Marshall.

I am originally from Chicago, but living in Austin, Texas now. I've been with Cloudflare since January, and I'm the office coordinator for the Austin office.

And I do want to clarify, I'm not a veteran, but I did work for the military for 14 years directly for commanding officers on a ship, which you can see as my background, and also at a helicopter squadron for the Marine Corps.


Thank you for your service. It was great. And then, Allen, how about yourself?

Hi, I'm Allen Reinhart. I work on the security risk team at Cloudflare. I've been here about a year.

And our team is responsible for identifying, assessing, and managing a lot of the security risks that we encounter here at Cloudflare.

And then we work with our various security teams to strategize and come up with plans for reducing a lot of the security risks that we see.

And in terms of my service, I originally came into the Navy in 2009 and worked my way up to an E6, and I was actually on the USS Ronald Reagan for four years.

So that's the ship also you see behind me.

So I was stationed in like San Diego, deployed all around the South Pacific, and then did some overseas in South Korea and Naples, Italy.

Awesome. Thank you for that, Allen.

And I guess I should take an opportunity as well to kind of tell you a little bit about my background as well.

I served for the U.S. Navy between 1989 and 1994.

When I left the Navy, I was an E5, which kind of like goes around at the same time from that you're there.

My biggest deployment was with minesweepers.

So this ship that you see behind me here, it's a minesweeper. So what we used to do, I don't know if you can see all the rig in the back part of it, all that white stuff, it's all rigs that we throw into the ocean.

And we basically literally sweep or swept the ocean.

That's a different methodology that they use now.

But they sweep the ocean, pretty much catch the mines that have been there for years.

They'll pop up. Obviously there's a big, there's a long trail between the boat and where this is happening.

They pop up and we basically sit back there and shoot it with rifles until it blows up.

That's how we used to do it back then.

Now it's a whole different methodology. But that was my background.

And I was stationed here in Treasure Island way before it closed. And then I was stationed for another minesweeping squadron in Alameda, which has also since then been closed.

And I've stayed in California ever since. I'm originally from New York, but I've never went back to stay here since then.

But you guys are the topic of the conversation today.

So I have a few questions I'd like to ask you.

So let's get started. I'll start with you, Alan. What is your experience and or relationship with veterans?

I know you kind of explained that a little bit, but give me a little bit more detail about that.

That would be great.

Like, what's my experience like coming out of the military? Is that what you're saying?

Yes. Yes. You can start with that. Yeah. Okay. So, you know, I got done with my service in 2017.

And, you know, I just had like a background in a lot of security work, a lot of IT work.

So, you know, I was just trying to figure out, you know, where to go.

Like, what was it that I wanted to do? So when I got out, I got a job working for a cybersecurity consulting firm here in Austin.

And probably the coolest experience of that working in that job was the opportunity to be an election security assessor.

So I actually got to drive around to like 19 different counties in the state of Texas and like do these on-site assessments where I would, you know, work with the various counties and figure out where their security problems are.

You know, how can they improve security within their elections?

But, you know, I found that it was like so much travel and it was gone every week.

And, you know, I really missed that time away from my family. And that's when I started looking for other opportunities.

And, you know, along came Cloudflare and, you know, the rest is history.

I was able to leverage a lot of the experience from the military and from doing those election assessments and sort of do the same process here at Cloudflare.

Yeah, makes sense. Definitely. Thanks for explaining that.

And I see why you were at the position that you're at at Cloudflare. Makes complete sense.

How about yourself, Megan? What's your experience of relationship with veterans?

I know yours is a little bit different in terms of you weren't enlisted, but can you please share a little bit more about that?

Sure. So I had to do an internship to graduate from my degree program at University of Illinois, and I knew I wanted to go overseas.

And the Navy just happened to offer an internship program with their MWR program, which is Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

And so I ended up in Italy. It was supposed to be for three to four months.

It ended up being nine months because I loved it so much. And then I went to Sasebo, Japan for about four months, doing more internships.

So I ended up doing a year long internship with the Navy MWR program.

When I got home from that, it was like, oh, I might as well just try and work for them.

And so I ended up at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.

And I ran the Liberty program, which is the single sailor recreation program.

While I was there, all these sailors would come back from deployment and talk about all the cool things they got to do, the places they got to go, the things they got to see.

I was like, I want to do that, but I don't actually want to join the military.

So I knew about the Afloat Recreation Program, which is basically recreation on board the larger ships.

So the aircraft carriers have two civilian positions. One is the MWR fun boss and one is the fit boss.

So one's in charge of all the fitness and the gyms and the other is in charge of the recreation.

And then the LHDs, which is the ship that I was on, it's just one civilian position.

And so I was the fun boss. And after about four and a half years of doing that and deploying three times and leaving early and coming back late and doing all that kind of fun stuff, I needed a change.

And so I changed to the Marine Corps side and I started working for Marine Corps Community Services as the family readiness officer for a helicopter squadron.

And so I've had a lot more time working with active duty military than veterans, but my husband is a veteran.

And so I deal with him every day. But yeah, and I still, I just love, you know, any opportunity to kind of volunteer, like with a USO event or something like that, that supports veterans and active duty military.

I'm all about it. That's awesome. Thank you, Megan.

That was my second assignment, actually. Mine Condemnation Squadron, helicopter Mine Condemnation Squadron 15, which is based here, was based here in Alameda.

But yeah, thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that. Alan, what was your, what did I sign up for moment?

Okay. Yeah, I definitely have a good story there.

You know, it was back in, everyone remembers 2009, how crazy that was. The Great Recession, as they called it.

And I was working as a, actually as a marketing manager for a private equity company, investment firm in Houston.

And they decided that, you know, they couldn't tolerate the market and they had laid off a bunch of their employees, including myself.

At the time, I was like deeply in debt.

You know, I had a ton of student loans from going to college. And, you know, I was feeling pretty down.

I just lost my job. The economy's not doing too well, deeply in debt.

That's when I really decided, like, I wanted to do something like I could look back and be proud of.

So that's when I started just exploring my options, like sort of thinking outside of what I was currently doing.

Like one of the books that really inspired me was the Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

Basically, you know, he says in that book to pretty much just to challenge your assumptions about your reality.

And I like I always wanted to travel internationally. So I was like, what's what kind of job is going to, you know, allow me to do that to travel and live overseas?

And I looked at actually joining like the Peace Corps. But I just again, you know, being in debt, it was just almost impossible to do something like that.

So I looked at the military and I was like, hey, the Navy looked great. They they had bases in just amazing locations like Hawaii and San Diego.

And then, of course, deployment, you know, you got to travel and visit all these other countries.

So that's when I was, you know, I went to the recruiting office and I was like, hey, sign me up.

And then, you know, negotiated for jobs as they as they do at the recruiting office.

And then they told me there's a job, you know, as a IT system admin.

And I was like, that's it. You know, I always said I'd love computers. I did a lot of web development in college.

So I knew that was the path for me. And the rest is history.

Here I am today. Awesome. That's awesome. Thank you for sharing.

Megan, I know that I know I took advantage of a lot of those programs that you contributed for us and helped us a lot.

Helped me a lot during the time that I was in the military and while I was transitioning out.

And I know that your experience is a little bit different, but did you have one of those aha moments?

It seems like from what you said before, you really enjoyed the time.

I know I've had some really great times and some really bad times when I was in the military where I questioned my decision.

But how about yourself? Did you have one of those aha moments?

My aha moment was, and I kind of touched on it already, was, you know, these sailors coming back from deployment, telling me everything they got to see and do and places they got to go.

And I was like, I want to do that, but I don't want to join.

And so that's kind of what led me to working on the ship, which was really, it really was rewarding because, you know, you're stuck on a ship for 8, 9, 10, 11 months at a time with the same 2,000 people or, you know, depending on the size of ship.

And every day can kind of seem like Groundhog Day and you need an outlet and something else to kind of take your mind off the monotony of every single day.

But I would have aha moments kind of like, what am I doing here?

Why? How did I end up here?

And it was always doing kind of really cool things like getting to fly off the ship in an Osprey.

Or getting to fly from Bahrain to Dubai in a C-5 and sitting up front with the pilots like that.

Who gets to do that? No one gets to do that. So I had aha moments like that every day, like this is really cool.

Like I'm so fortunate and grateful to be able to have this position while at the same time, you know, serving those who serve, for lack of a better term.

Yeah, cool. Well, thank you.

Thank you for your contribution. We really do appreciate it. I know myself, I had a, I think my ship was a lot smaller than your average ship.

And it was back then, they're now made out of fiberglass.

Back then they were made out of wood because obviously you didn't want to attract the mines, right?

We have radars and sonars that detect where the mines are, but you still have to be very careful.

You definitely want to be in that magnetic force. But I know that I enjoy my time in the military with the things that I did, but I definitely had my moments where, and I think that was more, I was shipped out to the Persian Gulf for a tour for six months.

And that's when I said, okay, everything's fine. I'm here for initially three months.

And then when they kept extending, that's when I was like, okay, what did I sign up for here?

Am I going to stay here forever or what's going on?

But eventually I made it back home and everything kind of went back, fell back into normal.

And the pace was something that I can deal with. But I think we all definitely had those moments in our lives, especially in the military.

Neil, did you at least get lobster the night before they told you you're extending?

Isn't that the saying, like, if you are served lobster on board, then the next day you're getting bad news.

Yeah, yeah. I think I got, well, they asked me what I wanted to, and I do remember.

I used to love sloppy Joes. They were like, just give me a sloppy Joe and I'll be fine.

And then the bad news came, of course. Alan, how was your transition into tech?

Specifically, I don't know if Cloudflare would count. Obviously, you've been working with other organizations before Cloudflare.

How was your transition into, I guess, civilian life?

For me, it was just interesting learning the culture of working for a tech company.

Because my experience is mainly working for a lot of small businesses, maybe some larger corporations.

And then going through the military.

But I guess for me, it was just getting used to how people work in a tech company versus the government.

Things like the dress code was exciting for me.

Not having to wear slacks and a button-down shirt every day. Embracing the t-shirt culture, I love that, t-shirt and jeans.

And then things were just less formal.

Because with tech, there's a lot of innovation and a lot of trying new things.

My experience with the military is everything is so structured. There's an instruction or a procedure for everything that you do.

The way that you advance is basically getting really good at executing those tasks.

What's expected of you.

Coming into the tech world, it's more like soft skills. How good are you as a communicator, a collaborator?

How well can you listen to people and understand what their needs are and be able to deliver on that?

How well can you get people to come together and work together and collaborate and share information?

Whereas I worked with a lot of classified information.

It was always like, let's restrict everything as much as we can.

Because only the information you need should be available.

Whereas in the tech community, it's very much about collaboration and sharing and working together.

I think it's just like learning and adapting to those cultural norms has really helped me now.

Because those are the things that people value in the tech world versus working for the government.

Thank you, Alan.

Thank you for that. How about you, Megan? How was your transition into...

You were a civilian. Did you meet your husband while you were in the military?

Yes. So how was your transition out of that? When did you decide, okay, I think it's time to maybe do something different?

It was actually after he retired and he was transitioning to a civilian career and we knew we were moving to Austin.

And so it was kind of, let me find something else. I always thought I would stay in the recreation or events field.

And then moving to Austin, just realizing everyone's in the events field here.

I had to kind of broaden my search and my horizons and look at other opportunities.

And making the transition into tech.

And let me just, you know, another disclaimer, I'm probably one of the least techie people at Cloudflare.

I'm the office manager. I don't do anything really tech related.

However, transitioning into a company besides the military was...

You know, there's definitely things that had helped me, such as being able to kind of talk to anyone.

You know, when you're working with the military, there's people from every walk of life, every background, every socioeconomic form.

And you learn to talk to everyone. And as an office coordinator, you're talking to everyone.

So things like that. I think one of the big differences I noticed was the respect of people's time at Cloudflare.

Meetings start 10.30, they end at 11.

Or whatever the set time is. And people really try and stick to it. Whereas I was used to, oh, the meeting's not over because we're not done talking about this.

And it may go 20 minutes later. When you may have had something else going on, you know, on the military side.

So there's been some cultural shifts that I've really enjoyed.

Another one has been kind of worker satisfaction. You know, Cloudflare and I think other companies just in general are very concerned with how happy the employees are at work and doing their work.

And, you know, with the military, it's, well, you just do it.

And if you don't like it, then your contract's up at some point.

So it's been refreshing. And it's been eye -opening, which has been great.

So, yeah, it's been something I never thought that I'd work for a tech company.

But here I am, and I love it. It's interesting that you say that, because I feel that myself being in sales, you know, you have to know so much about a product, obviously, to be able to sell it to a customer.

And I'm not technical in terms of it.

I'm not an engineer. But I think tech companies, especially here in the Bay Area, now, obviously, Austin has come out following suit, have done a really great job at that cultural aspect of a tech company.

Because I think that's a big fear out of a lot of people, especially in the military.

They come out and say, I don't know anything.

How am I going to work for a tech company if I don't know anything?

I'm not technical, right? But they've really done a good job at saying, hey, you know what?

You should fit the culture. And this is a knowledge set or a set of skills that you can pick up.

And it works out. And I think a lot of companies, you know, mainly, you know, the Googles and Twitters and LinkedIn and everyone, and Cloudflare, have done a really great job at just saying, hey, we just want to make sure that you're a good person.

You can speak well to people.

You're a good listener. All the other skills, we'll pick them up along the way.

And I think that's a really beautiful quality that a company has. I think when tech companies are hiring veterans or transitioning military, I think the diversity of thoughts that, you know, kind of military members may have can lead to a better workplace.

But like you said, they still have to fit the company culture, which is important.

And I'll be honest with you, Cloudflare has been, for me, in terms of my experience, the biggest promoter of that.

I mean, when you're interviewing with, you know, 18 or 20 people before you join the company, that says a lot.

They want to make sure that you're doing well and that you bring something to the table as well.

So, good, good. Alan, what experience, lesson, or habit has carried you forward to make you successful in tech and even in Cloudflare?

What kind of traits and things that you hold on to that keep you going?

I think some of it is like the system mindset.

Like, I don't know if you guys had this experience where you just, you have so many new people always coming onto your ship and you always have to get everyone like trained right away.

Because most assignments are like two to three years.

So you're just constantly dealing with turnover, people coming and people going.

And so I think having that like system mindset where you think about a role and you think about, you know, who's going to come into that role?

What information do they need? How are we going to train them? I think that's really helpful to, like, in my case, you know, we're building our security program.

So we're constantly adding new people, developing new processes and procedures within security.

So we want to think about how can we effectively communicate and train like new people so everyone understands the process and adapts it well.

I think another one is like dealing with hardship. I think you go through, you know, some of the hardest moments that you had in your life, being on deployment and being in the military.

And I don't know how many times I felt like counting down the years or the months when I'm like, I finally can get out, you know.

But I think that helped me build character because it's like something you can't give up on.

You can't just say, well, this job's too hard. I'm going to go do something else.

You're forced to grow and develop and respond to those hardships.

So, I mean, I know that's probably especially true now. Everyone's going through COVID, dealing with the isolation, the separation from their families.

And that's something that service members experience every day, you know, being on deployment, you know, being gone for months at a time.

Not being able to always communicate with their friends and family.

So I feel like that helped me develop a lot of my character.

And I would say like the last one is just maybe like communicating with people.

I don't know how many times I've, you know, you're getting an award or getting a promotion.

And then I always like want you to like have some profound speech about like what led you to that success.

You know, you just got really good at like in the moment, you would know what to say or like how to inspire others who are working with you or under you.

You know, like, hey, these are the skills or this is my secret to my success.

And, you know, and that helps me in this job being able to communicate and think on my feet and work with a variety of different groups.

Yeah. Thank you. I can definitely relate to that.

I have friends sometimes that tell me, man, how do you keep going? How do you keep chugging along?

How do you just keep dodging and weaving? I don't know. That's the way I am.

But I definitely think the military has a lot, had a lot to do with my character who I am today for sure.

Thank you for sharing that. Megan, how about yourself?

Any experiences, lessons, habits that have carried you forward in life and career and made you successful?

So I already kind of mentioned one, which is being able to talk to anyone.

But I think there's also you have to have a willingness to learn.

And, you know, having been on a ship as one of one, as you know, one of the only civilian on the ship during a deployment, I didn't have a counterpart that I could bounce ideas off of.

And so I had to be willing to just talk to other people and learn kind of what they did and see if there's anything that they could like with what they do, how that could help me in my job.

But even things like how does, you know, I have no need to know this, but how does a ship make potable water?

I've asked people like, well, how does this work? How does this engineering system work?

I don't need that knowledge. I have no use for it now. But it was a good starting point, a good place to, you know, just kind of meet someone and then willingness to learn.

And that's still the case, you know, working for a tech company where I don't do really anything tech.

I don't know about DDoS attacks.

I don't know any of that stuff. So the willingness to learn, but then also problem solving and coming up with solutions and finding a way to, yes, that's kind of been a big thing.

You know, you just as you're out in the middle of the ocean and someone wants to do this.

OK, let's figure out a way to do it because it'll help you mentally, you know, potentially mentally because you're having a bad day or you just want to do something fun.

So let's figure out a way to get it done.

And that still carries forward to today. So. All very good points there with that one.

Thank you for sharing that. This is going to be the last question as I'm looking at the time.

So I want to make sure we stick to that. Any tip because we're military, military background.

Any tips or advice to anyone who might be watching about how do you transition?

Maybe remind them of these things that that make us a little bit stronger than the average person and tips you like to share.

Alan, I'll start with you. I would say like specifically for if you're applying and interviewing for a tech job as a veteran, I would like limit maybe like the acronyms are using a lot of the military language from your resume.

Really want to translate it into what is the industry that you're applying for, want and expect because, you know, the managers reading that resume are not going to understand the military specific language unless you go to maybe working for a company that that works with a lot of government agencies or or the military.

Also, I try to understand the industry that you're targeting.

What are the problems that they're facing and sort of what solutions can you offer.

And also, I just take notes, ask a lot of questions.

I love it when people I interview come prepared and you can tell they're listening to what I'm saying.

And then they have follow up questions or they have their own questions.

Just be really curious.

I mean, that's something that people really value here at Cloudflare. Yeah, thank you.

I appreciate that. Megan, how about yourself? You have about 30 seconds.

Don't be afraid to branch out. You want to work for a tech company, but you're not a tech person.

There's established tech companies will have plenty of other roles.

Sales, HR, physical security, people team, places team. So branch out and also network, network, network.

Use your military network. Stay in touch with people.

When my husband retired, that was one of the best things that he was doing was reaching out to, you know, former CEOs, former squadron mates and just contacting them.

Not to necessarily ask for a job, but just making, you know, keeping those connections.

Awesome. Awesome. Well, guys, this was awesome.

Alan and Megan, thank you so much for sharing your experience and background with us.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has tuned in today.

We appreciate your support. And so thank you. We have a few more shows going on this week to commemorate Veterans Week.

But I want to thank everyone for tuning in and hope everyone has a great day.

Thank you so much.

Thank you, Alan and Megan. Bye-bye. Take care.

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