Technology cannot solve our greatest cybersecurity challenges. At least not on its own.
Last month, NetSPI held its 2022 Employee Kickoff event in-person after a long two-year hiatus. Nearly 300 employees from across the globe came together in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, just steps from NetSPI headquarters.
The day was buzzing with great energy from the get-go as we reunited with our friends and colleagues, met people in-person for the first time, and got to experience firsthand what an incredible workplace culture NetSPI has.
Amidst the keynotes, build-your-own lego Scan Monster races, and live 90’s rock band, one thing became abundantly clear: the power that comes from bringing people together face-to-face to form relationships, share ideas, and collaborate is unmatched.
All too often in the high-growth cybersecurity industry, we view technology as the ‘silver bullet’ against today’s threat actors. But at the end of the day, it’s people who will solve the greatest challenges we face.
Reflecting on the day, I wanted to share four takeaways that highlight the importance of the human impact in the tech industry.
The cyber arms race can only be won through the intersection of technology and talent
We cannot rely solely on technology to win this cyber “arms race” we’re experiencing today. We often find ourselves myopically focused on technology to solve difficult problems. And while technology and automation are critical, our industry will not thrive on tech alone.
The only way that the good guys will come out on top is through the intersection of technology and talent.
Technology should enable humans to do their job in a more effective and efficient way, and we should remember to view it through this lens. For example, during the NetSPI Employee Kickoff Event, we revealed a couple of Resolve updates to our security consultants who use the vulnerability management and penetration testing platform. We updated notification settings to be more customizable and created a portal for all project kickoff documentation and tracking. These are fairly simple and administrative updates, but it nearly resulted in a standing ovation for our product and development teams.
Again, technology enables humans to do what they do best. In this case, we found a way to limit notifications and streamline a mundane process to free up our pentesters’ time, enable them to do the work they enjoy, and ultimately find more business-critical vulnerabilities for our clients.
As we’re all aware, recruiting and retaining a team with the right cyber talent is incredibly hard in a market where unemployment is 0%. But simply assembling a team with the right technical skills is far from enough. It is vital to tackle cybersecurity with empathy, curiosity, and creativity – all traits that only humans can possess.
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
Peter Drucker stated, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And he was right.
Culture and values define who you are. They drive innovation in technology, how teams collaborate, and the service clients receive and how they perceive you.
NetSPI Chief Revenue Officer Alex Jones said it well in his keynote, “Values represent whatever is important to YOU.” Work is important… and so is everything else. Employees should get to spend time doing what they enjoy in and outside of the workplace. Once organizations recognize this, it becomes much easier to embrace a values-driven culture.
A strong culture requires teams working authentically and in concert with each other, a task that became increasingly difficult during a global pandemic that sent most organizations, including NetSPI, to operate fully remote.
I believe we have underestimated the power of in-person, human connection. Bringing 300 people together in-person certainly had its risks, but it was immediately evident how valuable the human connection was in driving collaboration and building relationships – and in turn improving the customer experience and the team’s performance.
Collaboration and diverse perspectives are key to solving the most difficult challenges
In cybersecurity and at NetSPI, we solve client challenges every day, often for the largest organizations in the world. We succeed at solving the most difficult of these challenges when collaboration and diverse thoughts reign.
One thing I noticed at the event was that sales didn’t cling to their sales peers, services didn’t cling to their services peers, leadership didn’t cling to their fellow leaders. Although it can be difficult, breaking down departmental silos within an organization can cultivate idea sharing and welcome new perspectives across the organization. This event helped us make big strides toward that goal.
Allowing everyone to have a seat at the table and feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas is something that we value greatly at NetSPI. After all, diverse thought fuels innovation.
In-person events can help you uncover the Purpose that your team will rally around
After the event, I challenged myself to think hard about what my employees really care about. What can I do as a leader to deliver on that purpose and adhere to my employee’s values? Am I creating a workplace environment that allows them to adhere to their values?
These events tend to be a wakeup call around a greater mission. And a presentation from our philanthropic partner, the Masonic Children’s Hospital, did just that.
The Director of Development at the Hospital, Nicholas Engbloom, shared a powerful story about Minnesota Gopher placeholder Casey O’Brien and his journey battling cancer. For those unfamiliar with Casey, I’d encourage everyone to listen to his story.
It was clear how much the story and our partnership with the Masonic Children’s Hospital resonated with and empowered our employees. It showed me how powerful it is for our employees to rally around a greater sense of Purpose and give back to the community. I’m excited to ramp up our philanthropic activities with the hospital and other organizations this year.
Investments that you make as an organization to bring your team members together have incredible Return on Investment (ROI) – and that’s just the ROI we can measure. To other cybersecurity business leaders considering an all-employee in-person event, I couldn’t recommend it more.
People are the key to solving the world’s biggest cybersecurity challenges. And the organizations that are enabling employees through tech and creating a values-driven workplace culture will be the ones leading the charge.
I’ll leave you with some incredible dance moves, courtesy of the NetSPI team. Check out this video recap for highlights from the NetSPI 2022 Employee Kickoff: