Cheryl Kerrigan, Vice President of People at BlueCat, discusses the importance of communication, soft skills and healthy employee cultures in modern cybersecurity companies.

In the podcast, Kerrigan and host Chris Sienko discuss:

– How did you move from standard HR positions to this more tech-focused career? (1:24)
– What is “Vice President of People”? How does it differ from a Human Resources position? What are your primary responsibilities and requirements, and how are they different from Human Resources? (4:52)
– Do you feel that this type of position is necessary because this type of employee advocacy isn’t being provided by managers? (6:27)
– What are some concrete examples of things you do on a day-to-day basis with regards to retaining talent? (7:41)
– Walk us through your average day as VP of People at BlueCat. What time do you get to work? What is your optimal routine? (10:18)
– What are your most common tasks? Do you take work home? What are your most favorite and least favorite parts of your job? (12:09)
– We talked previously about issues of uncommon communication skills that are necessary to advance one’s career in security and tech. Based on your experience, what skill deficiencies hold cybersecurity professionals back? (14:07)
– What I’m hearing is that there’s a disconnect between workers who do the job mechanically versus workers who do the job with an eye on advancing the aims of the company. Is that correct? (17:35)
– How does one go about learning these types of soft skills? What are some practical ways to help people acquire, learn and reinforce these skills in their day-to-day life? (18:30)
– One concept you mentioned in our previous conversation was the idea of the brilliant security expert with difficult people skills. How do you get this type of personality to come down out of the clouds and talk to the rest of us? (21:25)
– If you find yourself being that person who can’t translate their ideas to your clients or coworkers and don’t want to be, what do you do to reel it back? (24:55)
– One of the things you specialize in is helping tech and cyber-professionals move into managerial positions. What is your recommended strategy for people who might not want to transition into management because they like front-line work? (26:35)
– What role do certifications and cert training play in professional development? (31:13)
– If given the chance, would you create or require a tech/cyber-cert that focused on communication, writing and soft skills needed to succeed? If yes, what would your curriculum look like? (32:07)
– For our listeners who might not be involved in cybersecurity and who are considering starting at the beginning, what skills or experiences do you recommend they get involved in while they’re still on the ground floor? (34:20)
– What recommendations do you have for security-focused tech companies in terms of professional development for their cyber-professionals? What tools or techniques are available that aren’t being used by most organizations? (36:45)
– Where do you see the push for better communication, writing and soft skills for cyber and tech professionals going in 2019 and in the years to come? (38:57)
– What will be the mechanism for change for all of this? Do you think there will be a mass understanding that tech professionals require these types of soft skills in order to survive? (40:52)
– If our listeners want to know more about you or BlueCat, where can they go online? (42:59)

Additional Resources

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About the Cyber Work Podcast

Knowledge is your best defense against cybercrime. Each week on Cyber Work, host Chris Sienko sits down with a new industry thought leader to discuss the latest cybersecurity trends — and how those trends are affecting the work of infosec professionals. Together we’ll empower everyone with the knowledge to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.