Career Advice from the POPE

Submitted by Mike Rothman on Wed, 2008-10-08 07:59.

As I mentioned Monday, I'm now another vendor puke - working for eIQnetworks to help security professionals do their stuff better. Given the flexibility, limited stress, and very comfortable economic prospects of continuing Security Incite, why on earth would I take a job?

Basically, a number of things came together - the first being my own restless soul. As I look back through my career, about every 2-3 years I've decided to do something else. Not always with another company, but I've changed my job responsibilities on a fairly regular cycle. It's been about 3 years since I left my last "job" and I was definitely looking to do something else.

Not a job, mind you. But to pretty radically change what Security Incite did and what it offered.

Then I got a call from an old friend and mentor, who asked me to come in and do some consulting in his new shop. So I did, and I guess the rest is history.

But I didn't take the decision lightly, I actually agonized about this more than I have any other career decision in my life. After I took a step back, I built a set of attributes on which I'd evaluate the job and the decision. Basically I went to visit the P.O.P.E.

No, I didn't really go see clergy to help me make the decision. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not me. I tend to listen to my gut about big decisions and the following 4 buckets really helped my gut get some clarity. Perhaps these 4 topics will help you out in your next job search.

People

Ultimately working for a company is all about the people. You spend an awful lot of time with these folks, so you better enjoy hanging out with them. Additionally, they better be good folks and able to do their job. The key question is can these folks get it done? Besides Jim Geary, eIQ has a number of other top notch folks. If the people weren't up to the task, there is no way I'd have joined the company.

Opportunity

WIthout a market, it doesn't matter how good the people are. I've been there and done that. So the fact that I'd done more work on security management than probably any other topic was very helpful. I understood the customer problems, the issues with the existing products in the market and the fact that the space already supports at least two $100 million+ players, so there is a real opportunity there.

Product

If the product sucks, it doesn't matter how good the people are, or how large the opportunity is. You aren't going to get there. So I took a detailed look at SecureVue, eIQ's enterprise-class security and compliance management product. It's been in the space for about 18 months, and is in use in quite a few large, enterprise class customers. These accounts are happy and eIQ is winning head to head deals against the biggest players in the space.

More importantly, in my strategy role, I'll have a hand in pushing the product forward and making sure it continues to meet the needs of the largest customers and government agencies out there.

Exit

Finally, if there are limited potential exits for the company, the capabilities of the people or the market or the product just don't matter. The good news is that there are still quite a few large IT vendors that do security and compliance management pretty poorly. Of course, we have a lot of work to do to add enough value to make a difference, but at some point many of the "Big Security" players will realize that their offerings are lame and need to bring on something better.

eIQ has a lot of flexibility in looking at these strategic options a few years down the line. The company is entirely self-funded, thus far, so there aren't a bunch of pissy investors who have had their money tied up for 7 years and have little opportunity for liquidity any time soon.

Of course, companies are not sold, they are bought. So we need to just keep executing on our plans and at some point down the road, we're confident a partner will come find us. But without that flexibility and the prospect of a liquidity event somewhere down the road, the opportunity at eIQ would be far less interesting.

Final thoughts

I wasn't kidding when I said I agonized over this decision. I was really happy as a one-man band and doing quite well. But ultimately I fancy myself to be a builder and eIQ gives me the opportunity to build a strong strategy and marketing function. I'll be able to add a lot of value, almost immediately, and be able to work with some folks I really respect in a market space that I like.

So from that standpoint, it's all good. But one final parting thought is that my three years doing Security Incite has liberated me from worry. I started with nothing and built something and was able to support my family. If need be, I can do it again. So I'm not scared anymore about being able to pay the bills.

That confidence gives me the ability to take risks because even if it doesn't work out, I know I'll figure something out. Which is a good place to be.

Photo: "Pope's Blessing" originally uploaded by alykat

Submitted by Dr. Richard Jobs (not verified) on Fri, 2008-11-21 16:20.
The saying that more heads are better than one applies to this article. Taking risks and succeeding is truly satisfying, especially if you've gone through a lot with your team to attain those goals.

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