In my opinion, being an individual achiever is easier. I know individual achievers will look at managers and think they are not contributing anything – I used to have this mindset myself, but it truly changed. When you are in a leadership role, you take pride in your team more than your own achievements. You get to feel real happiness watching your people grow, setting goals for them, seeing them achieve those goals and congratulating them. As a leader, you are in the backstage and no longer the centre of attention. That was probably the most difficult professionally for me at the beginning.
What would you say was the motivational point to go outside your comfort zone?
I would always go back to the question of why you want to do something. If you know the reason why you are doing something, you have the ambition to get bigger. Even when you have achieved something great, there is always somewhere further to move. Do take a second to acknowledge what you have achieved but start thinking about what is next. If you are not moving onto the next achievement, you are just standing still, and stagnation is not good for anybody. If you stop moving forward, someone will come along and take your lunch from you.
If you were not in your present role, what else would you do?
A good question, but I have no idea! Someone has already asked me this question once and I honestly have no clue. That is partly the reason why I wanted to get into mentorship too. Once you have found the thing you want to do, it is hard to imagine that you would so something else. I think when I was asked that question before, I might have said I would still be surfing in Nova Scotia… so maybe that (smiling).
What are the most important things for you in life?
For me, unambiguously, the most important thing is family, because they are always going to be in my corner no matter what. The second thing, in a professional landscape, is to be true to your word. If you give someone your word, you live up to whatever it is you promised. If you cannot, you try to do it again and again until you manage to! In professional life, your word is everything. I have found that to be especially true with Russian people and in a Russian company. If you do not keep your word, you will lose credibility.
If you could give one piece of advice to younger people going into the cyber field for a new challenge, what would it be?
I would say do not overthink what it is you want to do or the reason why you want to do it. Try to have a loose understanding of why you want to do something and just go for it. Take one step and the next step will follow. Nothing happens immediately. You have to work towards what it is you want (even if you are not yet sure what it is exactly!). I know it is a huge cliché, but if you work hard enough, eventually it will happen.