February 1999 was the last time I willingly changed employers. That’s…20 years, which, in this day and age, is an eternity to stick with the same employer.
That’s not entirely true. I did change employers in April of 2009 when Check Point Software Technologies completed the acquisition of the Nokia Security Appliance business that I worked in. Because of this, when you look at my official start date at Check Point, it reflects the day I started at Nokia, which was in February of 1999.
More than Two Decades, Actually
But really, my Check Point experience goes back farther than that. It even predates the Check Point Experience conferences currently going on right now, starting in 1996. I began working for a company that resold, among other things, Check Point FireWall-1.
Back then, Check Point didn’t have a support site and there wasn’t much information out there on the Check Point product. I ended up building and maintaining a public FAQ, which got a lot of attention.
That FAQ did lead to my job at Nokia in 1999, where I was hired under a telecommuting arrangement, which at that time was unusual. Most of my co-workers were in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had just recently moved to Washington State, and telecommuted with the occasional trip to the office.
Quite a lot has happened in the decade that followed. Nokia acquired many companies, changed strategies a few times, reorganized, but our business unit that produced appliances that ran primarily Check Point’s software remained. The appliances were quite popular, as was our Technical Support, where I worked in various roles. Our business unit had many names over the years, including: IP Routing Group, Nokia Internet Communications, and Nokia Enterprise Solutions. Our revenues were effectively rounding error when compared to Nokia’s Mobile Phone business at the time, was profitable.
The Winds of Change and a Recession
By the end of 2007, the winds of change were definitely blowing. The iPhone was announced at the beginning of 2007 and took the world by storm. This had a massive effect on the mobile phone market as a whole, and Nokia in particular. More specific to our business unit, I saw an organizational chart that showed our business unit isolated from the rest of Nokia. Which, in some ways, made sense since we operated pretty independently of the larger Nokia. However, it foretold what was to come.
Near the end of September of 2008, a Nokia executive had inadvertently made public they were in the advanced stages of selling the Nokia Security Appliance business to a private investment firm. This began a rather tumultuous 7 month period in my professional career.
While trying to do our jobs keeping customers happy and secure, we were developing plans to become a company independent of Nokia. This involved quite a lot of details that, working for an established company like Nokia, you just don’t think about.
All this planning activity suddenly stopped, or at least management stopped asking about it. Things got oddly quiet. Turns out, the recession that kicked in during October 2008 “cooled off” the potential buyers.
Coming Home to Check Point
Just before Christmas 2008, it was announced that Check Point was buying the Nokia Security Appliances business. After three months of uncertainty, we were starting all over again with a whole different set of concerns. Who would be acquired? Who would end up staying at Nokia? Who would end up having to look for work? And was any of this a good thing?
I’ll spare you the details of the three months that followed, but it involved interviews with people at Check Point, a CFIUS review (we were a US asset that was being purchased by a foreign-owned company), and a lot of unknowns. All, meanwhile, while we were continuing to serve our customers.
In April of 2009, the acquisition of Nokia’s Security Appliance business by Check Point closed. Some ended up staying with Nokia, some came over to Check Point, others were given severance packages. And a whole new adventure began as this was not only a change in employer for me, I changed jobs. Which, as it turns out, was a great thing.
At first, my job wasn’t all that different. I was a sort of backline support for the sales organization, interfacing between sales, R&D, and Product Management. It wasn’t too different from what I was doing at Nokia, actually, just with a different focus (pre-sales).
Eventually, my role evolved into a Security Architect, where I went on customer sites, reviewing their security architecture, providing recommendations for addressing the identified issues along with what Check Point products would best address their needs. This got be a bit closer to the actual sales process.
Back to the Future
Then, at the end of 2016, I was offered an interesting proposal that leads me where I’m at now at Check Point: as the front man for Check Point’s user community: CheckMates. The funny thing is, I’m doing a lot of what I was doing running the FireWall-1 FAQ back in the 1990s, except Check Point is now paying me to do it.
A lot has changed in the last 20 years. The old days were fun, but I’m having the time of my life right now! I’m not just doing some online thing from my basement, I’m getting out there, meeting customers, spreading the good word. Given the significant increase in the velocity and impact of cyber threats, the work that Check Point is doing to prevent them is more important than ever!
And while I’m not talented enough to develop solutions to cyber threats, I can certainly communicate, educate, build trust, and collaborate. I can occasionally develop solutions to some problems as the hundreds of posts on CheckMates and the hundreds of FAQs I published years ago will confirm.
It’s what I’ve always done in my career, and yet, I’m just getting started.