Women in CybersecurityPROFILE - MELISSA SMITH
King & Union – Vice President, Strategic Partnerships & Alliances
What do you do at King & Union?
I am responsible for our strategic partnerships (channel & technical alliances) and go-to-market related to the technical integrations for Avalon, our cyber investigations platform, and our fractional data marketplace partners. Along with partnerships, I have oversight of our partner marketing campaigns and corporate development.
How long have you worked there?
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Getting outside of my comfort zone! Learning new things! Working with colleagues that become friends and family. It makes long days fun and those years that pass by even more enjoyable. I’ve been so lucky to have formed lifelong relationships with friends who have become my closest personal confidants, as well as guiding lights in my professional career. I’d never give that up!
What do you enjoy most about the company?
King & Union is a family. We are small but mighty, but the company is a great team of hardworking individuals who push themselves outside of their comfort zone to learn new skills to go above and beyond. Forging through life in a small, early-stage, startup is challenging, but the camaraderie and trust we have makes even the most difficult challenges pay off. I’m very appreciative each day to work with such a dedicated team, not to mention thoughtful group, and navigate professional and personal circumstances that come up. 2020, crap, yup, I said it, and I promised myself I would not bring up that dirty word. At the end of the day we are all still humans navigating life, homeschooling, and showing compassion in some of the darkest days. I feel proud that I could work with and lean on my team and those that make up our company to preserver in even the most non-traditional times in our lives.
How did you get into cybersecurity?
Ha! By chance, that’s for sure! Many moons ago (circa 2006, gosh, I’m old), I was approached by a “head-hunter” who thought my previous experience would translate well into an inside sales support and development role at a VAR. I didn’t tell him I had NO IDEA what a VAR was… 15 years later, my career has transcended over many companies throughout the cybersecurity industry. Still, my heart has always been passionate about building partnerships and relationships between organizations. I don’t think I would have foreseen the career path this far down the cybersecurity industry. Still, I am happy to be here and humbled to be nominated with this community of successful women – thank you to my friend Andy Gepert for also pushing me on this because I struggle to quantify “what I do, and how am I good at it.”
What are your hopes for women in cybersecurity in the future?
To keep using your voice for other women, minorities – advocate for change for better teams, companies, and industry standards. It’s hard, but don’t hesitate to use your voice if something makes you uncomfortable; better yet, use that voice when you feel comfortable and confident. Be a champion for those around you, and speak up when things are hard. This can be a lonely and isolating industry as a female but don’t forget how far you’ve made it, and at the end of the day, trust your gut.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. How will you help forge a gender-equal world?
I don’t have daughters (#boymom), so at times I think I don’t give this as much thought as I should, if I’m honest. We don’t have to do “BIG” things to make an impact for a gender-equal world. We can start small. Remember that at the beginning and end of the day, kindness matters. “Be kind. We are all fighting a battle…” This mantra has resonated with me for many years, and as I continue to evolve in my career and as a working mom, daughter, sister, friend, it’s even more true. By surrounding ourselves with a tribe of fearless individuals who help us use our voice not just for others but ourselves is important to the equality we strive so much for. Thank you to those, male and female, that I’ve been lucky to have their support, challenge, and betterment to what I do outside of work… Melissa Majewski, David Song, Jared Tobiasen, John Freaney, JR Reicherts, ReseAnne Sims, Michael Anderson, Teddy Powers, Jaci Tomek, Lyndon Brown, Kristi Colvin, and Peter Prizio, (to name a few or a lot!) thank you for allowing me to grow into who I am personally and professionally. Find your people and keep them close -they’ll push you to be the best you can be today, tomorrow, or 10 years from now.