E16 - Christa McHugh at Palo Alto Networks

Oliver Linsley
Christa McHugh

By Oliver Linsley & Christa McHugh

On today’s episode of the Security Vendor spin-off series, we had the pleasure of being joined by our host and Cyber Security Consultant, Oliver Linsley and special guest, Christa McHugh, Global Retail Architect at Palo Alto Networks. During this episode, Christa talks to us about the inspiration behind her blogs and the psychology behind ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it’. Christa also shares with us what a day in the day in life of a Global Retail Architect looks like at Palo Alto Networks.

Christa McHugh is an accomplished Cyber Security professional who has had a fascinating journey to get to where she is today. Like many young people, she entered college without a clear idea of what she wanted to do with her life. However, after her computer was connected to the school network, she became fascinated by the possibilities of technology. She was able to communicate with others via email and chat boards, which sparked her interest in networking.

Christa’s first job in the technology field was working in the computer lab at her college. She then became a network administrator and eventually graduated with a degree in Information Systems. During this time, she became interested in hacking but never did anything malicious. Instead, she simply wanted to see what she could get into.

After college, Christa landed a job at IBM, where she worked on router installations. As she learned more about networking, she became a network administrator for another service provider, and her career continued to progress. When the company was bought out, Christa had to reinvent herself once again. She took a job with a local cable provider that was on the cutting edge of technology, which took her skill level to the next level. Eventually, Christa became a principal engineer for Verizon, where she supported one of the major US retailers for ten years.

From there, she landed at Palo Alto Networks as a Systems Engineering Manager. However, she wanted to get back in front of customers and use her retail expertise, which led her to her current role as a Global Retail Architect at Palo Alto Networks.

What’s the most important thing you have learnt along the way?

Christa’s experience has taught her an important lesson that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and that it’s essential to understand this in order to grow and develop as a professional.


As a Global Retail Architect, Christa is responsible for helping Palo Alto Networks’ retail customers transform their businesses. She is heavily involved in customer engagements, whether it be in person or through web conferences.

When she’s not working directly with customers, Christa spends a lot of time developing thought leadership content, including writing white papers and blog posts.

Women in Tech…

Christa is dedicated to exploring and addressing the lack of women in technology, a field that has historically been male-dominated. Christa became interested in this issue when she realised that there were very few female role models in the technology industry. Through her research, she discovered that the lack of representation of women in tech can be attributed to a variety of factors.

One of the key insights that Christa gained from her research is the psychology behind the concept of “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it”. This concept suggests that individuals are more likely to pursue a career in a field where they see people who look like them or share similar experiences. In other words, if young women do not see many female role models in technology, they may not consider pursuing a career in this field.

Tune in on the 30/03/2023 to hear the full episode!