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Security Pro: Four Tips for Working Moms in Tech

As a woman who co-founded a startup in information security and spent many years in technology, Monica Jain says she is often asked how women should best navigate their careers in high tech. Here are some tips that have worked for her during her career.

Editor's Note: This article is part of a series written by women who have successfully navigated careers in the data center industry. More about the series here.

Monica Jain is a veteran of the security industry with more than 15 years of experience in SIEM and cloud security. She worked at ArcSight for over 10 years, culminating in managing the flagship SIEM product portfolio. She saw the company grow from zero revenue to IPO, and ultimately be acquired by HP for $1.5 billion. Monica is driven by a zeal for advancing cyber security from its current state of information overload. After hundreds of conversations with organizations struggling to stay ahead of new emerging threats, Monica co-founded LogicHub™ to help CISOs sleep better.

As a woman who co-founded a startup in information security and spent many years in technology, I’m often asked how women should best navigate their careers in high tech. I have been surrounded by many working moms in tech who are doing great in their careers while managing a happy family life. It validates for all of us that this can be accomplished. Here are some tips that worked for me:

Follow Your Passion

My first tip is to always follow your passion. By doing so, one success will lead to another naturally. For example, my passion to help customers and interact with them naturally pulled me into product management from software engineering years ago. While coding, I would always wonder who is using this product and why? What problem are we solving for them, and how can we make it easier, faster, more efficient?

As an engineer, I took any opportunity I could to talk to our customers directly. Every word from their mouths was precious to me. I would sit with security analysts in their Security Operations Centers (SOC) to witness firsthand how they were using our product and what challenges they faced in their jobs. Listening to them with a keen focus, my mind would in parallel start imagining new product ideas to solve their pain points.Those were my best moments during customer visits. Over the years, I have visited hundreds of customers and built long-lasting relationships.

Ultimately that passion that led me to identify some new technology gaps in the information security domain that evolved over the years. Convinced of the need, I opened my garage with a proposed idea, and my co-founder and I started interviewing customers day in and out to validate the idea and get their feedback. LogicHub was born out of strong validation and encouragement from those conversations.

Identify your passion and pursue it, because when you do, work becomes much more fun and you are set to excel with one success building upon another.

Focus on Results, Nothing Else Matters

Focusing is a critical skill for any career—moment by moment and over the course of many years.

Once you’ve identified your passion and mapped out your career goals, then it’s about dedicating yourself to it with hard work and determination. I would routinely ask myself, “Did I do my best at this particular customer interview, particular feature, etc.?” If the answer was “no, I could do better,” then I needed to work harder and put in those extra efforts. Results matter the most. Focusing on results gives us the best path for career success while overcoming all the hurdles that are sure to come up along the way.

While focusing on results, make sure you are avoiding distractions. This is even more important when you encounter people who are trying to suppress you, probably for the sake of their own career advancements. At such times, it is even more important to stay focused on your work and results, and ignore everything else. Your work will speak for itself; those distractions do not deserve your attention.

By demonstrating results consistently, you will very likely build a strong trust with your manager.  Make sure he or she is someone who values results over gender. They should recognize your accomplishments and be willing to always support you by giving you increasing opportunities on your career path.

Learn to Balance Family Life with Hard Work

The most common question I get asked is, "how do you manage both work and family life"? My answer is, “it’s hard but not impossible; it is doable.” For me this comes down to a handful of key things.

First, time management is critical. It is important to eliminate any non-productive activities; the little things that take up time but are less important for your work or family. You need to brutally prioritize your tasks so you’re spending more quality time at home and at work.

Second, I use the concept of “sharing your paycheck.” As a working mom, I realize it is very important to focus the limited time I get with my family to spend it on quality time. This means delegating some household tasks to others. They can take care of routine chores so you can use that time to talk to your kids about their school, read with them, or go for a bike ride and connect with them.

Finally there is that mom’s guilt, wondering if you’re spending enough time with your kids. My feeling here is that we build this up more internally than is actually the case. Overall when you’re happier, your kids are happier, too. At the end of the day, if your child comes home happily from school, sharing all his stories with you, asking you to read to them at night or hold their hands while they sleep, trust me, they still love you. Focus on the quality vs. the quantity of time you spend with them. 

Find Time to Relax Every Few Weeks

Last but not least, while taking care of both work and family throughout the day, working moms end up sacrificing their own personal time. My tip is that you must make an effort to do something every few weeks or at least once a quarter for yourself, e.g., something that YOU personally enjoy to relieve stress. Whether it’s dancing or attending a yoga class –  it’s important to take yourself out from your normal routine periodically to recharge.

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