Training for Transition

Category: Grad News
Class Years:

This episode features a conversation with Mark McLaughlin Class of ’88, Chairman of the Board at Qualcomm and Vice Chairman of the Board at Palo Alto Networks.

This episode features an interview with Mark McLaughlin Class of ’88, Chairman of the Board at Qualcomm and Vice Chairman of the Board at Palo Alto Networks, a global cybersecurity leader working to shape the cloud-centric future with technology that is aimed at transforming the way people and organizations operate.

Mark also served as President and CEO of Palo Alto Networks from August 2011 to June 2018. Prior, he was President and CEO of Verisign, after holding other numerous positions with the company. Before that, he was the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Signio, Vice President of Business Development for Gemplus, served as General Counsel of the Caere Corporation, and practiced law as an attorney with Cooley Godward and Kronish LLP.

For nearly a decade, Mark has served as a member of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), a body that for more than 30 years has brought industry chief executives together to provide counsel on national security policy and technical issues to the U.S. President and national security leadership. He received his J.D. from Seattle University School of Law and his B.S. degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served as an attack helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army and earned his Airborne Wings.

In this episode of On Point, Mark talks about his non-linear career path that started after being medically discharged from the military because of a helicopter accident. He explains his paradigm for assessing work opportunities, advice for military veterans as they transition into civilian business, and how he has balanced his career and family life. Mark emphasizes how veterans can translate their unique skill sets and experiences into jobs and leadership opportunities, the importance of networking with fellow alumni, and how they need to look out for and promote themselves to prosper outside of the army.

Episode Timestamps

(02:00) AAR—After Action Review Segment
(02:15) Decision to Attend West Point
(02:55) Experience at West Point
(03:55) Starting the Crew Team at West Point
(05:50) Difficulties in First Year
(07:45) Experience Flying Cobra Attack Helicopters
(09:50) Abrupt end to Military Service and Making a Career After the Army
(14:30) Career After the Military
(26:15) Mentors and Advice from Others
(28:00) Time at Palo Alto Networks
(35:00) Working with Different Types of Investment Firms and Boards
(37:15) SOP—Standard Operating Procedure / Daily Routines and Advice
(45:45) Giving Back—Advice for Transitioning Veterans

Grad News

Subscribe to get grad news or cadet news delivered to your inbox daily around 4:30 EST when a new story is posted. We use Feedblitz for email delivery, which is separate from the WPAOG email system and preferences.


The WPAOG Podcast is a strategic initiative focused on tailored audible communications to further inform Graduates on current AOG projects, events, and USMA updates. This customized content is mainly for USMA Alumni and the West Point Community solely produced by the West Point Association of Graduates. The Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Audible, Google Podcasts, and iHeartRadio.

More News