ISE® Southeast Executive Award Winner 2019
I had known tangentially about T.E.N. for a few years and always wanted to get involved, but the opportunity did not arise until the 2019 ISE® Southeast Executive Forum and Awards. I had heard of Marci McCarthy, and she struck me as someone I wanted to get to know better. She seemed to be making meaningful contributions to the cybersecurity industry.
The moment the ISE® Executive Forum started, I noticed that—in addition to networking—it was about gathering people together to share information about the industry and with each other. Executives and vendors were there to help each other solve real problems. It was about building relationships that could drive business results. Everything from the event’s implementation to the various discussion topics was aimed at benefiting the industry. T.E.N. is clearly focused on providing true information sharing for the sake of cybersecurity’s continuous improvement.
On top of that, T.E.N. seems to vet their vendors, ensuring only the ones with proven track records attend the event. The way they were set up in the Sponsor Pavilion and Dinner Buffet was appropriate, and the time you had with them was exactly right; it was not too long or too short. I have had a couple of follow-ups with vendors I interacted with there, so the experience was excellent.
In fact, it was a vendor who nominated me for the ISE® Southeast Executive Awards, demonstrating how much it matters to establish trust and credibility with quality vendors. My team works with vendor partners on security initiatives because it helps execute initiatives at scale and provides external industry perspective. I had worked with this vendor across multiple companies, so they had experience in how I operate, whether it involves building teams or coming in to execute security programs. I asked them if they found T.E.N. to be legitimate, and they responded, “Absolutely.”
The nomination itself was incredibly humbling. I was honored because you do not do all this work because you want to win awards. You do the work because you want to do the right thing for your company, the industry, and the world. Even so, being named the winner of the ISE® Southeast Executive of the Year Award stood out to me because the award is specifically for the information security industry and judged by your peers. That matters to me because some of those peers are customers of mine. I have interacted with them in the past, and they knew exactly who I was and how I service customers. I also observed the impressive achievements of the other nominees and was honored to be recognized among them.
The ISE® Awards Gala was an incredibly positive experience. My team was so proud and excited that I won. It has also provided another example of how women can succeed in this industry. In general, technology can be a tough field for women to enter and engage in. Cox Communications is ranked 11th on DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity list and is very supportive of women and how they can be successful doing work they enjoy while also having a balanced life. Winning the ISE® Southeast Executive Award has been great overall, not just for my team and me, but also for my company because it says, “We have successful women in technology here. Come work with us.”
When I started in this industry, there was not much in the way of female representation. I knew how to build a team that could succeed and contribute to a company’s goals, but having different kinds of role models and representation is also important. People need to be able to see themselves in others who are succeeding and making a difference because it inspires them to believe they can also be successful and make a difference. The T.E.N. team represents that idea, too. This is a team full of fun and smart women who accomplish so much and who can be taken seriously in a very technical, stressful, and high-level field. We always need more examples of how that is an obtainable reality.
T.E.N. is primarily women-owned and operated, and I enjoy their perspective and approach to the cybersecurity industry. The team uses their network to spread out the programs they ask industry people to take part in, and these programs—the ISE® Private Dinners, the ISE® Lions’ Den and Jungle Lounge, the ISE® Executive Forum and Awards—are all different. The variety of programs gives technology executives multiple opportunities to make an impact and interact with other leaders in the industry.
I would like to nominate a fellow colleague in the future. The greatest benefit of the nominations process is the exposure you receive—whether it is as a winner, finalist, or nominee—and how positively it reflects on your company, your team, and yourself. I have a great team, peers, boss, and company, and we have great industry support, and it was so nice to be recognized. Additionally, being nominated compels you to reflect on your achievements. Even if you do not win, writing down all the things that your team has accomplished is a good exercise because you remind yourself of the strides they have made. This industry forces you to carry some intense frustrations and worries, and you experience trials every day, so it is important to take that much-needed step back and acknowledge the results that motivate us.